MANILA — More than 90 experts from the ASEAN region and the United States gathered in Pasay City to support increased financing to protect the region’s rich biodiversity.
The two-day, ‘International Conference on Conservation Finance’ was organized by the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Delegates from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines came together to discuss effective approaches to fund and sustain eco-systems.
USAID’s Office of Environ-ment, Energy and Climate Change Director Jeremy Gustafson said: “The U.S. government supports develop-ing conservation financing programs to sustainably manage Southeast Asia’s protected areas. In the Philippines, this aligns with our long-term commitment to boost environmental resiliency and help the country become more stable and prosperous.”
Southeast Asia is known as a biodiversity hotspot. Millions of communities depend on the health of the region’s rich natural resources. In the Philippines, more than 200 protected areas cover 2.5 million hectares of terrestrial and marine areas, as declared under the 1992 National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. However, a 2011 study by the Asian Institute of Management found that only 47% of these areas are supported with funding—leaving the majority dependent on unreliable sources.
The conference, which coincided with the World Wildlife Day Celebration, also highlighted the need for increased resources to help combat wildlife trafficking and stopping wildlife crime, including illegal fishing.
“Conservation financing provides incentives and other economic benefits to com-munities so they do not have to poach or traffic wildlife illegally,” Director Gustafson said.
The U.S. government, through USAID, partners with government, civil society and the private sector to improve the management of more than 800,000 hectares of protected areas and critical watersheds by strengthening environ-mental governance, combating wildlife trafficking, increasing economic benefits to local communities, and building national and local capacity for adaptive planning and natural resource management.
For more information about the Conference, please contact: Angel Tiamson-Saceda, B+WISER Communication Specialist at [email protected]; 0917.897.2279.#