By Bianca Schlegel
The rich natural resources and biodiversity of ASEAN countries offer significant potential for the region’s socio-economic development. The ASEAN member states (AMS) - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - accommodate about 18% of the species on earth, three of 18 mega biodiversity countries, about 35% of the global mangrove forests, and 30% of the coral reefs worldwide.
Now more than ever, it is vital to understand and acknowledge the value and wealth of biodiversity. The AMS intend to exploit this economic potential by further developing trade relations for biodiversity-based products (BBP) nationally, regionally and globally. However, the potential of BBP has not yet been sufficiently analyzed, especially as far as indigenous populations in buffer zones of the region's protected areas are concerned. The market potential of BBP is often unknown, and the AMS are not supported in the promotion of improving people’s livelihoods while conserving biodiversity.
Therefore, on behalf of the German Government and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, GFA Consulting Group has been implementing a BBP project in cooperation with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in Los Banos/ Philippines since March 2015. The BBP project is piloting biodiversity-based value chains in buffer zones of protected areas in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Until February 2019, the project aims at supporting the ACB and ASEAN Member States in the promotion of biodiversity-based products for the improvement of livelihoods and biodiversity protection. It constitutes one out of three modules of the German – ACB cooperation program “Protection of Biological Diversity in the ASEAN Member States”. The project´s objective is to balance economic growth and biodiversity protection by developing the economic potential of biodiversity into marketable products.
> Program website: https://aseanbiodiversity.org
Photos: Bianca Schlegel (Vietnam, bees and national park), Souvanpheng Phommasane (Lao PDR, bamboo), Ratana Mao (Kambodscha, ginger)