Major meeting of Asian leadership to explore new partnership for protected areas
Senior government officials from 12 Asian countries have concluded a meeting in Bangkok today to explore the establishment of a new transboundary Asian partnership on protected areas. The Asia Protected Areas Partnership will be co-chaired by the Government of Japan as the first country co-chair and IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature. The idea was initiated at the first-ever Asia Parks Congress held in Sendai Japan in November 2013 which concluded with a pledge for stronger collaboration that will capture the energy and imagination of the current Asia boom to ensure protected areas contribute to human progress in the region while also conserving its rich treasure of biodiversity.
Protected areas are a vital link to meeting the challenges of development in one of the world’s most dynamic regions. In addition to helping reduce the risk of natural disasters, they provide clean water and enhance food security, provide clean air and medicines, store carbon to help mitigate climate change, and provide homes, jobs and livelihoods to millions of people in Asia and worldwide. Protected areas are also increasingly being impacted by high rates of economic development in Asia, and their ongoing conservation has transboundary implications.
“The establishment of this group represents a new commitment from governments across Asia to work together on protected area issues, and demonstrates a growing recognition of the critical place of protected areas in multiple realms that are critical to human survival and to the times we live in: sustainable economic development, climate change and disaster risk reduction, as well as for their aesthetic beauty and cultural significance,” said co-chairs of the initiative Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, IUCN Asia and Dr. Yoshitaka Kumagai, Regional Vice Chair, East Asia for IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas.
“I am pleased the Government of Japan has initiated this partnership with IUCN, and am sure it will make a significant contribution to the effective management of protected areas and to improved understanding, region-wide, of their important contribution to the health of our societies and economies,” said IUCN Councillor Ambassador Masahiko Horie from Japan. The Ministry of the Environment Japan also welcomed the results of the meeting and the progress towards the formal establishment of the Asia Protected Areas Partnership.
Countries represented at the meeting included Japan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The development of the partnership is being generously supported by the Ministry of the Environment Japan and the Nagao Natural Environment Foundation. The group discussed priority areas of interest and the focus of the partnership moving forward, and agreed on the official launch of the partnership at the next IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia in November 2014, the world’s most important gathering on protected areas, which takes place only once every 10 years.