Big commitments call for bold actions: Upsized MPAs needed for ASEAN region

A risky yet ambitious era for global biodiversity

With the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in December 2022, the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) pledged the world’s most ambitious conservation commitments yet. Adopted by 95% of the 196 Parties to Convention, the GBF was dubbed as a “historic package of measures deemed critical to addressing the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restoring natural ecosystems” (CBD, 2022).

A key target under the GBF, Target 3, is the conservation of at least 30% of the world’s lands and waters by 2030. This “30 x 30” target (30% by 2030) is a considerable step up from the previous CBD global agreement, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which aimed to protect or conserve 17% of the world’s lands and 10% of the world’s waters. Despite some areas of progress, the world as a whole failed to meet the Aichi Targets. The GBF is an effort to rectify the reasons for this failure and catch up on the lost progress.

In ASEAN, the conservation of marine areas is one of the big gaps in the achievement of the Aichi Targets and is one of the biggest challenges of the Kunming-Montreal commitments. By the end of the Aichi Targets implementation period, only 4% of the region’s coastal and marine areas had been protected. To meet the new GBF targets and improve the health of coastal and marine ecosystems in the region, the ASEAN Member States (AMS) should work together at establishing larger areas of conserved and protected waters.

This document discusses recent findings showing areas of high marine ecological connectivity in the ASEAN region, which strongly suggests the need to establish cross-boundary partnerships to restore coastal and marine biodiversity and ecological services.

The full policy brief may be accessed here: