Senior government officials from 12 Asian countries and IUCN agree to establish a new transboundary Asian partnership on protected areas, following a meeting in Bangkok last week.
The Asia Protected Areas Partnership will be co-chaired by the Government of Japan, as the first country co-chair, and IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The idea was initiated at the first-ever Asia Parks Congress, which took place in Sendai Japan in November 2013. The Congress resulted in a pledge for stronger collaboration to capture the energy of the current Asia boom to ensure protected areas contribute to human progress in the region while also conserving its rich biodiversity.
“The establishment of this group represents a new commitment from governments across Asia to work together on protected area issues," say 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. "It demonstrates a growing recognition of the crucial 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 their aesthetic beauty and cultural significance,”
Protected areas are vital to meeting development challenges in Asia - 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 increasingly impacted by high rates of economic development in Asia and their ongoing conservation has transboundary implications.
“I am pleased that the Government of Japan has initiated this partnership with IUCN," says IUCN Councillor Ambassador Masahiko Horie from Japan. "I 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."
The Ministry of the Environment Japan also welcomed the results of the meeting and progress towards the formal establishment of the Asia Protected Areas Partnership.
Countries represented at the meeting include Japan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The group discussed priority areas of interest and the focus of the partnership moving forward.
The partnership is supported by the Ministry of the Environment Japan and the Nagao Natural Environment Foundation. It will be officially launched at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia in November 2014. The Congress is the world’s most important gathering on protected areas, which takes place only once every 10 years.