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ACB promotes youth action for biodiversity conservation.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) will engage the youth in efforts to reverse biodiversity loss in Southeast Asia.

'ACB recognizes the youth as dynamic partners in conserving, restoring and sustainably using biodiversity,' Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim said in her 2019 International Youth Day (IYD) message this week.

She said the youth in ASEAN and around the world has the 'passionate energy, fresh ideas and technological familiarity to make a difference in halting biodiversity loss'.

She noted the youth already has a track record in initiating and sustaining environmental efforts like coastal clean-ups.

'Estimated to grow to nearly 1.3 billion in number by 2030, the youth can be a powerful force for change when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to act,' she said.

The youth sector already accounts for some 33 percent of population in ASEAN region alone, she noted.

'We are committed working with the youth in creating a future they would not fear but would instead look forward to in hope and possibility,' she said.

ASEAN said drivers of the region's biodiversity loss are ecosystems and habitat change, climate change, invasive alien species, pollution, poverty and over-exploitation due to deforestation, land and water use changes, wildlife hunting and trade for food.

Established in 2005, ACB is ASEAN's response to the biodiversity loss challenge.

ACB is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates cooperation and coordination among ASEAN member-States as well as with regional and international organizations on conserving and sustainably using biodiversity aside from promoting fair and equitable sharing of benefits from utilizing this natural resource.

According to Dr. Lim, young people like Adeline Suwana and Greta Thunberg demonstrated the youth sector's potential to be an agent of positive change.

Dr. Lim said at 12 years old, Suwana formed 1,700 member-strong youth group Sahabat Alam (Friends of Nature) which helps plant mangrove trees, protect turtles and other marine species and undertake environmental clean-up and education activities.

Suwana is among ASEAN's biodiversity champions, she noted.

Thunberg in her mid-teens protested outside the Swedish parliament to demand urgent action on climate change - inspiring other young people around the world to join such call, Dr. Lim continued.

When Thunberg speaks, Dr. Lim said everyone - including world leaders - listens.

'This is the power and impact of the youth,' the ACB chief said.

In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated Aug. 12 as International Youth Day.

The annual IYD brings youth-related issues to the international community's attention and celebrates youth's potential as partner for change.

IYD's 2019 theme is "Transforming education" to highlight efforts for making education more inclusive and accessible for all youth.

Dr. Lim said ACB continues to help promote youth empowerment for biodiversity.

'Through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN Project supported by European Union, we launched the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme (AYBP) in collaboration with Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) Southeast Asia,' she said.

GYBN is the official youth constituency to UN Convention on Biological Diversity representing the global youth's voice in political processes affecting biodiversity, she noted.

'AYBP provides ASEAN youth with capacity-enhancing opportunities, mentorship and resources through the Youth Biodiversity Leaders (YBL) programme and youth internships in ASEAN Heritage Parks which are protected areas of high conservation importance,' she continued.

'We are pleased with success of the kickoff YBL workshop last March where 20 passionate biodiversity advocates not only received training but also actively shared best practices and initiated collaborations with other youth leaders,' she added.
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Publication:Philippines News Agency
Date:Aug 15, 2019
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