Story | 23 Jan, 2024

IUCN Members in Asia commit to strengthened conservation action at Regional Members Committee

The IUCN Asia Regional Members Committee (ARMC) met in Haikou, Hainan Province, China, on 9-10 January under the chairmanship of Professor Ma Keping. The meeting was hosted by the Forestry Department of Hainan Province, China and the Biodiversity Committee of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources, China.

Held annually, ARMC convenes chairs of IUCN National Committees (NCs) and the nominated members’ representatives for countries without NCs, together with councillors from the region and the regional vice-chairs/representatives of IUCN Commissions. The meeting provides a platform for IUCN’s regional constituents to assess progress of their ongoing activities and to deliberate on strategies to further fortify their contributions to the implementation of the IUCN Programme. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the previous years, the 2024 meeting was the first in-person meeting since 2019.

Fourteen countries were represented at the meeting – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam. Also joining were two councillors; Prof Ma Keping from China and Mr Kazuaki Hoshino from Japan, as well as representatives from six Commissions – Commission on Education and Communication, Commission on Ecosystem Management, Species Survival Commission, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, and the World Commission on Protected Areas. Dr Dindo Campilan, Regional Director for Asia and Hub Director for Oceania, participated on behalf of the regional Secretariat.

In his opening remarks as AMRC Chair, Professor Ma emphasised the meeting’s primary objective of enabling IUCN Members, along with the Secretariat and Commissions, to discuss Union policy and programme updates. He encouraged participants to help foster better engagement for and stronger ownership of the Union by all constituents in the region. 

In his welcome remarks, Mr Liu Zhaojun, Director General of the Forestry Department of Hainan Province, highlighted how his province has worked with IUCN to jointly initiate the ‘Global Gibbon Network Initiative’, which has provided an international platform for harmonious coexistence between man and nature.   

Meanwhile Mrs Jiang Xiaohong, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), China, reaffirmed the Ministry’s continuing support towards IUCN’s convening and partnership building efforts. MNR represents China as State Member of IUCN. She further invited institutions, experts and scholars across Asia to actively participate in activities of the Nature-based Solutions Hub for Asia-Pacific and the Global Coastal Forum, both of which are partnership platforms led by China.  

In identifying Asia as a “powerhouse for World Heritage”, Dr Tim Badman, Head, IUCN Heritage and Culture, briefed participants on IUCN’s role as the designated adviser to the World Heritage Committee on nature. He also shared an overview of the Union’s vision to protect the world’s most significant areas of natural and cultural conservation importance.

Dr Campilan presented the updated Regional Programme Agenda and Strategy, as well as preparations by the Asia Regional Office (ARO) for the Regional Conservation Forum (RCF) in 2024 and the World Conservation Congress (WCC) in 2025. Appreciating the participation of diverse Union constituents, he underscored that “we are in this meeting because we share one common vision, have one common programme, and belong to one big family.”

Mr Raj Kumar, Membership Manager, IUCN Asia, shared insights into the RCF scheduled for 3-5 September 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand. Highlighting the RCF's significance as one of premier regional conservation events in Asia, Mr Kumar detailed its role in fostering knowledge exchange, collaboration and the formulation of a global conservation agenda. This agenda is slated for endorsement at the next WCC in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 

After the presentations from IUCN Members and the Secretariat, the Committee invited representatives from the six IUCN Commissions to share updates on their activities, with a particular focus on developments in Asia.

Among the ARMC actions agreed during the Meeting were:

1) in subsequent ARMC annual meetings, NC chairs shall prepare country presentations which integrate inputs from Members, Commissions and Secretariat;

2) a comparative analysis of NCs’ organisational and operational characteristics shall be undertaken by the ARMC vice-chair and ARO Membership Manager to foster sharing of best practices for managing these Committees;

3) proposed RCF agenda and workplan shall be communicated with ARMC and shared with Members and Commissions for them to contribute to organising the event; and 

4) Secretariat support towards strengthening Members’ capacities for policy engagement shall be explored with the IUCN International Policy Centre.

On the 2nd day, ARMC concluded with a field trip organised by the Hainan Forestry Department, for participants to visit the island’s Tropical Rainforest National Park and Nature Museum in the Yinggeling area.