MANILA, 10 August 2017 – Ten biodiversity conservation advocates representing the grassroots, government, academic, and business sectors received the 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Award at a ceremony held in Manila, Philippines on 7 August. The inaugural award forms part of the celebration of ASEAN’s Golden Anniversary.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is a programme designed to recognise outstanding individuals from the ASEAN region who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries.

From an indigenous community leader who is protecting Papua’s forest to a national scientist who is championing coastal resources management, the inaugural ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes honors inspirational and valiant individuals who have risen to the challenge of helping curb biodiversity loss. Each of the heroes, in their own different ways, have made significant impact on biodiversity conservation in their respective communities, countries, and the region.

“At the heart of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025 is the commitment to lift the quality of life of its peoples through cooperative activities that are people oriented, people-centered, environmentally friendly, and geared towards the promotion of sustainable development. Today is a celebration – where we rejoice the achievement and recognition of these ten remarkable individuals,” said Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASCC.

ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva said, “We are honoring 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes who have dedicated their lives for the cause of biodiversity conservation.  Under great sacrifice to themselves and their families, they have shown tenacity, perseverance and focus to protect our web of life.”

Representing Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the search for the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes holds a special significance for the Philippines and the entire ASEAN region. “Without biodiversity, there will be no life, for biodiversity is life in itself. Without biodiversity in its myriad forms and inter-interdependence, we will not survive and prosper,” he said.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes were selected by the ASEAN Member States. The nominating agencies considered the relevance of the nominees’ contributions to biodiversity conservation, the impact of these contributions to biodiversity conservation efforts in their respective countries and the region, the replicability of their actions, and the recognition they received in communities where they belong. Each ASEAN Biodiversity Hero received a cash prize worth USD 5,000, a special Heroes medal and trophy.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is supported by the ASEAN Secretariat; the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs; the European Union through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN (BCAMP) project; and HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI).

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The 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are:

  1. Eyad Samhan, Former Field Supervisor, Tasek Merimbun, Brunei Darussalam

          For significant contributions to research on fauna and flora in Brunei and in the region

  1. Sophea Chhin, Government Official, Department of Biodiversity, Cambodia

          For sparking interest in wildlife research among Cambodians

  1. Alex Waisimon, Conservation worker, Indonesia

         For protecting Papua’s forests for future generations

  1. Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham, President, Union Development Agricole Import-Export Public Company (UDA Farm), Lao PDR

         For promoting environment-friendly agricultural production and protecting migratory species

  1. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Malaysia

        For making a lasting impact on analysis and assessment of global biodiversity and ecosystem services

  1. Maung Maung Kyi, Chairman, Rakhine Coastal Region Conservation Association, Myanmar

        For effectively promoting community participation to conserve various habitats

  1. Angel C. Alcala, Professor Emeritus, Silliman University, National Scientist, Philippines

       For championing coastal resource management and terrestrial biodiversity conservation

  1. Leo Tan Wee Hin, Professorial Fellow and Director (Special Projects), Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

       For championing biodiversity outreach and education

  1. Nonn Panitvong, Founder and Webmaster of Thailand Biodiversity Conservation Group, Director, NakornPhet Sugar Limited and other companies

       For raising public awareness of biodiversity through taxonomy

  1. Dang Huy Huynh, Vice Chair, Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment

       For fostering the exchange of knowledge and solutions to conserve Viet Nam’s biodiversity