officers from the ten ASEAN Member States will gather in Manila for a three-day workshop on heightening public awareness of biodiversity issues and concerns. The ASEAN Biodiversity Communication, Education and PubGovernment communication lic Awareness (CEPA) Workshop will be conducted from November 24 to 26 at the Legend Villas in Mandaluyong City. The opening program will be addressed by Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, executive director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Atty. Roberto Oliva, executive director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), and Dr. Bertholt Seibert, project director of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project (BCCP).

According to Rolando Inciong, head of ACB’s communication and public affairs, the workshop aims to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN Member States in promoting public awareness of the values of biodiversity to help reduce the rate of biodiversity loss. “The workshop is a contribution of the ASEAN Member States and ACB in realizing Target No. 1 of the global biodiversity Aichi Targets. Target No. 1 states that by 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably”.

“Today, the trend us to plant trees, advocate green technology, segregate waste, or bring reusable bags to the supermarket. Awareness is the key and when people, communities, organizations and governments become more aware of the impacts of human activities on the environment and the actions needed to address them, appropriate solutions can be developed and implemented to combat biodiversity loss. Awareness is like a light switch that creates opportunities for change, big or small, which collectively brings huge benefits to the environment,” Inciong explained.

Organized by ACB and supported by the Government of Germany through the BCCP, the workshop aims to assist ASEAN Member States in strengthening their CEPA strategies to enable countries to meet their commitments as Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity; share good CEPA practices from the ASEAN region and other parts of the world; identify challenges and discuss actions to strengthen ASEAN Member States’ capacity to communicate biodiversity; enhancing the participants’ skills in preparing national CEPA strategies; draft an outline of the ASEAN CEPA Strategy; and establish a network of communicators that will take the lead in promoting biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN Member States.

Workshop facilitator Sahlee Bugna Barrer of ACB announced that the key resource speaker at the workshop is Dr. Jinie Dela from Sri Lanka. Dr. Dela is director, Probe for Nature (Pvt) Limited, and member, Commission on Education and Communication of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The workshop will be followed by the awarding ceremony for the 2014 ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity, which recognizes outstanding projects on biodiversity conservation and advocacy in the ASEAN region.  The ceremony includes the launching ofStats and Stories: Storytelling for Biodiversity Southeast Asia & Beyond, a compilation of feature stories by Philipp Gassner of Germany, which explains biodiversity issues and concerns in layman’s term.(DENR-PAO)