HoB Week kicks off with Expert Dialogue in Celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Heart of Borneo Initiative
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the HoB Initiative – a transboundary collaboration of the three Governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia – to conserve and sustainably manage the biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources in the Heart of Borneo. Since its inception in 2007, various programmes and activities have been individually and collectively implemented by the HoB Governments to achieve the shared vision for the HoB. Significant progress has been made possible with the strong support and participation of Indigenous Peoples and civil society, and other stakeholders, as well as local and international partners.
Today, the transboundary collaboration of the three countries that share the island of Borneo continues to be an effective and innovative way for securing and helping forge a path towards green and inclusive development in the Heart of Borneo. As new challenges arise and conditions change, it is important for the Initiative to regularly reflect, get expert input and strategize on how to continue to keep the Initiative relevant and effective in safeguarding the natural environment for sustainability and prosperity in the Heart of Borneo.
With the theme “Safeguarding the Natural Environment for Sustainability and Prosperity in the Heart of Borneo”, today’s Dialogue brought together some of the best minds from the three countries, and from the island of Borneo, featuring experts from Governments, Universities and Research Institutes to share knowledge, experiences as well as achievements and challenges over the last decade in implementing the HoB Initiative.
During the Dialogue, the CEOs of WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Malaysia jointly launched the conservation latest report, entitled “The Environmental Status of Borneo 2016”. It is the third of a series of biennial reports that details the changing status of the major ecosystems and key species, the land use developments, and the current conservation management issues in Borneo. “These findings will help us better plan for more sustainable future of the island”, said Rizal Malik, CEO of WWF-Indonesia. “I am certain that this publication will be a valuable reference for all development actors in Borneo and other partners to help maintain the sustainability of the natural capital of Borneo as one of the world's last remaining expanses of contiguous primary forest in the region,” he added.
Having extended its analysis from the HoB area to the whole of the island of Borneo, the report evidently shows that HoB has indeed fared far better compared to areas outside the HoB boundary.
While a large portion of Borneo’s lowland has been converted from forests to other land uses, much of the HoB area remains relatively intact. “We are convinced that this is largely due to the success of the three countries’ visionary exercise to conserve the HoB that our governments have continuously committed since the historic joint declaration in 2007”, said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
However, the report finds that environmental health in the whole of Borneo continues to decline. Borneo is undeniably at risk of losing its major ecosystems and the valuable eco-services they provide which are critical for the long-term wellbeing of the local communities and the economies - both national and regional - of the three countries. “The HoB Initiative can play a bigger role as a leading example to create an even bigger impact to the whole of Borneo. We need to ensure that all our efforts would also contribute to the overall environmental health of the entire island of Borneo”, added Dato’ Dionysius.
The two CEOs reiterated their commitment to continue supporting the three governments in implementing the HoB Initiative and urged all stakeholders and partners to take part in the endeavour to make a better future for the HoB and the entire island of Borneo, both for mankind and environment.
The Dialogue also explored a range of other topics, including: 1. Biodiversity and Environment in HoB – Rhino and Elephant Conservation; 2. Climate Change, Energy and Transboundary Watershed Management: Challenges and Opportunities; 3. Social Forestry; 4. Agriculture: Tradition and Innovation to safeguard the rich biodiversity of HoB; and 5. Education and Culture: Traditions for a Sustainable Future.
Jointly organised by the HoB Indonesia National Working Group, Universitas Borneo Tarakan and WWF, the Dialogue was part of a series of activities of the HoB Week in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the HoB Initiative.
During the HoB Week, WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Malaysia also held a joint exhibition, featuring photos of WWF HoB work in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan provinces, representing the five HoB trilateral strategic plans of actions (SPA) on transboundary cooperation, protected areas, sustainable resource management, ecotourism and capacity building. A photo tour and photography class was also held for high school and university students and the local photography communities in the area.
The 11th Trilateral Meeting is scheduled to be held on 11-12 October at Universitas Borneo Tarakan. This two-day meeting will bring together representatives from the three governments to discuss and review the development and progress that have been made in their respective areas of HoB since the signing of the HoB Declaration in 2007. The three governments will officially launch “Visit the Heart of Borneo” - a multi-year campaign to promote HoB as a trans-boundary ecotourism destination.
The Environmental Status of Borneo 2016 is available for download here
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