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HoB Week kicks off with Expert Dialogue in Celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Heart of Borneo Initiative

Posted on 10 October 2017

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.
10 October 2017, Tarakan, North Kalimantan: The Heart of Borneo (HoB) Week started today with an Expert Dialogue to celebrate a decade of the HoB Initiative. The event took place at Universitas Borneo Tarakan in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia.  

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
About WWF-Indonesia
WWF-Indonesia is an independent national conservation organization and is part of a global network of WWF. It started out in 1962 with research on Javan rhino in Ujung Kulon and today, it has conservation work in 28 regions in 17 provinces from Aceh to Papua. Supported by approximately 500 staff, WWF-Indonesia works with the government, local communities, private sector, NGOs, civil society and the public at large. From 2006 to 2013, WWF-Indonesia has about 64,000 supporters in the country. For more information, visit
About WWF-Malaysia
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia) was established in Malaysia in 1972. It currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental conservation and protection work, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. The national conservation organization also undertakes environmental education and advocacy work to achieve its conservation goals. Its mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the nation’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.  For latest news and media resources, visit
About Heart of Borneo (HoB)
The Heart of Borneo (HoB) is a 22-million hectare landscape of natural capital with intact forests that is home to a diverse group of wildlife species such as orangutan, clouded leopard, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino. Apart from being one of WWF’s global priority conservation areas, HoB is also an important socio-economic development area for the livelihoods of the local and indigenous people. 
The HoB Initiative is 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 HoB. Since the signing of the joint declaration by the three countries in 2007, WWF continues to play a key role in supporting the three Governments implement the Initiative, enhancing collaboration as well as implementing conservation programmes across the landscape of Borneo. Working closely with both national and regional key partners - governments, private sector, civil society and other support institutions (donors, technical specialists, public and media) - various conservation projects are being led by WWF HoB Programme, a joint collaboration between WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Malaysia with support from WWF offices around the world.
Notes to the media:
1) All quotes are to be attributed to the designated persons quoted in this media release.
2) Should you need more information, please see the details below: 
Nuraini Soulisa, Heart of Borneo Programme Communication Manager, WWF-Malaysia 
Email:, Tel: +60374503773 
Irwan Gunawan, Kalimantan Program Director, WWF-Indonesia 
Email:, Mobile: +628128748535
Stephan Wulffraat, Heart of Borneo Thematic Leader for Species and Places, WWF-Indonesia
Email:, Mobile: +6281319995562
heart of borneo; HoB; wwf indonesia; wwf malaysia; jimmy syahirsyah
WWF-Indonesia’s CEO, Mr. Rizal Malik moderates the expert dialogue session with policy makers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and local governments of Kalimantan.
© WWF-Indonesia/Jimmy Syahirsyah
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WWF-Malaysia’s CEO, Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma introduces the joint report by WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Malaysia, entitled Environmental Status of Borneo.
© WWF-Indonesia/Jimmy Syahirsyah
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CEO of WWF-Indonesia, Mr. Rizal Malik (middle right) and CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma (middle left) jointly launch the report.
© WWF-Malaysia/Henry Chan
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Visit The Heart of Borneo
© Heart of Borneo
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Students from SMA Negeri 1, Tarakan participate at the photo tour, showcasing photos of WWF HoB work in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan provinces.
© WWF-Indonesia/Arman