The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity or ACB is now accepting entries to the 1st ASEAN-wide photo contest “Zooming in on Biodiversity”.
The announcement was made during the annual International Day for Biodiversity celebrations at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
The photo contest, launched in partnership with the European Commission (EC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), aims to heighten awareness on biodiversity among its stakeholders and the general public through the medium of photography.
It will run from 22 May 2009 to 30 August 2009
Open to all residents of ASEAN Member States Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, the contest welcomes entries which are exclusive to the contest, unpublished, and not submitted to previous contests.
The entries must be of images related to biodiversity (plants, animals, marine life, ASEAN Heritage Parks) or the many benefits that biodiversity brings to human beings, its importance, the threats biodiversity face (deforestation, climate change), or how biodiversity affects lives.
Photos showing initiatives to protect biodiversity resources such as plants, animals, and marine species are also welcome.
Entries must also depict biodiversity as a source of food (food and agriculture) or as source of medicine (health and medicine), shelter.
The images must also be able to portray biodiversity and climate change or the aesthetic value of biodiversity and biodiversity as source of livelihood and biodiversity as a venue of ecotourism.
“Among environmental issues and concerns regionally and globally, biodiversity conservation among the least known, yet one of the most important” ACB Executive Director Rodrigo U. Fuentes told about 100 scientists, ambassadors, students, and media practitioners who participated in the International Day for Biodiversity rites.
Fuentes expressed regrets that “only a small fraction of the global population, mostly scientists and environmentalists, understands the key role that biodiversity plays in humankind’s survival”. He added that the “lack of knowledge often translates to the lack of care for the very environment that nourishes us.”
Fuentes reiterated the “urgent need to popularize biodiversity” and “one effective way to accomplish this is to use the power of photos . . . an old cliché but still very true: a picture paints a thousand words.”
He explained that “by translating biodiversity and its relationship with health, food security, climate change and other everyday human issues into powerful images, we can generate a greater awareness for this often-difficult-to-grasp concept.”
Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines Delegation Ambassador Alistair MacDonald said that the photo contest "is an excellent means of increasing public awareness on the importance and beauty of biodiversity . . . one's photographic eye can encapsulate a very complex issue in a single image."
The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity or ACB is an inter-governmental regional centre of excellence that facilitates cooperation and coordination among the members of ASEAN, and with relevant national governments, regional and international organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, guided by fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such biodiversity.
It is known as the first regional initiative to save the ASEAN’s rich but highly threatened biodiversity.
ACB is a continuation of the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), which was a joint cooperation project of the ASEAN and European Union (EU), and hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines.
Between 1999 and 2004, the ARCBC successfully established the bridge that fostered strong collaboration among ASEAN Member States (AMS) and between ASEAN and EU partner institutions, and gained recognition in the regional and global arena for biodiversity.
In 2005, the ASEAN and EU agreed to establish the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity to carry on the work of the completed ARCBC project.
The Financing Agreement inked between EU and ASEAN provided the necessary funding for the establishment of ACB. The Centre was established primarily to facilitate coordination and cooperation among AMS on the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity.
The Agreement on the establishment of the Centre was signed by the Environment Ministers of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam on behalf of their respective governments.
ACB was launched at the 9th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in September 2005.
The Agreement also established the ASEAN Biodiversity Fund with voluntary contributions of the AMS, other governments and organizations as approved by the Governing Board. The Fund is to be utilized to meet the expenses of the Centre and its various initiatives.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has recommended to the Senate President and Members of the Senate the ratification of the Host Country Agreement (HCA) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.
Signed in August 2006 in Manila, the HCA provides that the Philippines shall be the Host Country for the ACB which is currently headquartered at the University of Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna.
Subject to concurrence by the Senate, the Philippine Government will later grant immunities and privileges to ACB and its staff.
The Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) have endorsed the ratification of the HCA.
Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), calls ACB “a unique mechanism that uses the bottom-top approach to deal with the biodiversity loss problem.”
The ASEAN has resolved to further strengthen its commitment to protect its biodiversity from degradation.
“As part of the ASEAN action to save the region’s biodiversity, the countries declared twenty seven areas as ASEAN Heritage Parks and designated 1,523 protected areas based on the World Conservation Union category,” Director Fuentes said.
He added that “promoting national and regional cooperation to address measures related to environmental agreements, and establishing a regional database containing an inventory of the region’s biological resources are also part of the action to curb biodiversity loss,” Director Fuentes said.
Now on its third year, ACB reinforces its efforts to engage more sectors and stakeholders in the quest to save the region’s biodiversity. It forms alliances with key stakeholders in the regional and global levels.