Pakse, Lao PDR— The Sixth ASEAN Heritage Parks Conference (AHP6) kicked off on Monday, gathering about 300 officials, protected area managers, top experts, stakeholders, and partners in stewardship from ASEAN Member States and across the globe. 

With theme “Sustainability and Innovation for Parks and People—Celebrating 35 years of ASEAN Heritage Parks,” AHP6 builds on the experiences and knowledge of protected area managers and international experts in the bid to improve the ASEAN Heritage Parks (AHP) network and strengthen camaraderie among AHP stakeholders and other dialogue and development partners under the AHP Programme, one of the flagship initiatives of ASEAN.

Organised by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Government of Lao PDR through the Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with support from the European Union (EU), the German Development Cooperation through the KfW, German development agency GIZ, SwedBio, Convention on Biological Diversity, and THE Japan Biodiversity Fund, the four-day AHP6 ALSO CELEBRATES THE 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AHP PROGRAMME in the charming city of Pakse in Champasak province in Lao PDR on 21-24 October 2019.

AHP6 began on Monday with the European Union-ASEAN policy dialogue, which focuses on the EU’s “Larger than Tigers” report, the EU’s inputs for a strategic approach to biodiversity conservation in Asia.

The dialogue serves as a platform for ideas on several aspects of protected areas management; landscape and seascape approaches to conservation; and approaches to address wildlife crimes in ASEAN.

“This ASEAN-EU dialogue demonstrates our continued partnership within the framework of ASEAN cooperation on environment, with governments, non-government organizations, experts, private sector, women, youth, indigenous and local communities and other key stakeholders,” ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim said in her message.

Enrico Strampelli, head of cooperation for the EU delegation in the Philippines, underscored the need for “a global vision and a political will at the highest level” to stop biodiversity loss.

“I have no doubt that the ASEAN–EU partnership can reinforce that vision towards a common objective and interest. The EU takes a particular pride in having a constructive dialogue with ASEAN on biodiversity issues as this is one of the highest priorities on its development cooperation with South East Asia,” Strampelli said.

Lim noted that while approaches to address biodiversity loss can be done locally or nationally by every ASEAN member state, several issues require collaboration between and among countries in the region.

“Many large landscapes and seascapes important for biodiversity conservation are shared between multiple countries. Many protected areas are situated close to national borders and offer potential for transboundary collaboration, while much of the wildlife crime plaguing the region is also transnational in nature,” Lim said.

She said the ACB plays a key role in facilitating collaboration and strengthening capacity for jointly addressing strategic issues.

Participating in the dialogue are members of the ACB Governing Board, members of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, ASEAN Working Group on CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Wildlife Enforcement, the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime, key development partners from the Delegations of the European Union, as well as protected area and wildlife conservation stakeholders in the region.

The delegates were welcomed by Sousath Sayakoummane, director general of Lao PDR’s Department of Forestry.

The EU has been supporting the AHP programme through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project, a five-year initiative designed to contribute to global sustainability by ensuring that the ASEAN’s rich biological diversity is conserved and sustainably managed.