The ASEAN region is increasingly losing its biodiversity within various ecosystems – forest, agro-ecosystems, peatlands, freshwater, mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass. It continues to be confronted with escalating environmental threats, including habitat change, invasive alien species, climate change, pollution, overexploitation, and poverty -- all of which contribute to the declining sustainability of natural resources in these ecosystems.
Concerted efforts, however, have been made to address biodiversity loss at both the regional and national levels. Innovative ecosystem-based approaches to address these challenges that have been implemented include the establishment of more protected areas, the ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme, the Heart of Borneo Initiative, the Coral Triangle Initiative, and the Greater Mekong Subregion Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Initiative, all of which have attracted worldwide attention.
But much more needs to be done, both by the member states individually and by the ASEAN community collectively, to put an end to the deterioration of biological resources. We need to re-examine our lifestyles and consumption patterns to make our choices more responsible and environmentally friendly. We need to assume a fair and equitable share of burden and responsibility as users and providers of these natural resources. We must exert greater efforts in increasing the awareness among the people to protect these ecosystems for future generations, more so to ensure our own continued prosperity and survival.
DR. SURIN PITSUWAN
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)