Malaysia: Better biodiversity efforts with revised policy

HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM The Star 23 Feb 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has further increased its commitment to biodiversity management with the launch of a revised National Policy on Biological Diversity.

The revised policy emphasises the need for continued conservation, sustainable utilisation and the sharing of benefits from biodiversity in a fair and equitable manner, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The policy, said Najib, will provide the nation’s guide to manage biodiversity over the next decade.

“It has clear targets, actions and timelines for implementation and calls for active participation by all stakeholders.

“The revised policy complements Malaysia’s obligations under the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity and to implementing the Sustainable Develop­ment Goals,” said Najib in his speech at the fourth plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform For Biodiversity And Ecosystem Services (IPBES) yesterday.

Also present were Natural Resources and Environment Minis­ter Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah.

Najib said different countries have different issues when it comes to dealing with environmental conservation.

For developing countries, finding the right balance in bringing in much needed development without sacrificing nature is pivotal.

Malaysia has also had its fair share in finding the right balance, said Najib.

Citing the opening of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) scheme in 1956 to alleviate poverty, Najib said the plan was a success with the drop of poverty level from 49% to less than four percent now.

“But I will be the first to admit that development through the opening of land for agriculture, human settlement, industrialisation, transport, has had significant impact on the natural environment.

“The issue at hand is sustainability and how to harness the power of technology and knowledge to ensure that while we continue with our growth momentum, we are also able to preserve our natural heritage,” he added.

Najib said Malaysia has also undertaken various efforts to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.

Among them are the Central Forest Spine, an initiative that will link four main forest complexes which form the central mountain range in the peninsular.

Later in a press conference, Wan Junaidi said his ministry has consulted various stakeholders since 2014 before including it in the policy.

He said 29 comprehensive consultations were carried out between 2014 and 2015.

The first National Policy on Biological Diversity was formulated in 1989.

The revised policy will provide the direction and framework in conserving the nation’s biodiversity and use it sustainably in the face of increasing challenges.


PM launches revised National Policy on Biological Diversity
ADRIAN LAI New Straits Times 22 Feb 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launched the revised National Policy on Biological Diversity, which he hailed as an important guide to the nation’s biodiversity management over the next decade.

Speaking to the participants of the Fourth Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) here, Najib said the revised policy emphasised the need for continued conservation and the sharing of benefits from biodiversity in a fair and equitable manner.

“It has clear targets and actions and timelines for implementation and calls for active participation by all stakeholders,” Najib said when opening the conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here today.

This revised policy, he said, complemented Malaysia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.

“As you can see, Malaysia tries very hard to forge a balance between socio-economic development and environmental wellbeing, in particular conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

Present were Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, the prime minister’s Science Advisor and IPBES chairman Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, former prime minister Tun Abdullah Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, and United Nations Environment Programme deputy executive director Ibrahim Thiaw.

IPBES is a world body that convenes biodiversity science experts and policy makers. Its first ever assessment report, to be launched on Friday, constitutes the most authoritative review of the health and value of pollinators.

One of the primary focuses during the conference was the survival of pollinator species, which include bees, butterflies, beetles, birds and bats, and their significance to food production. The conference found that pollinator populations were under threat by human activities in many parts of the world.

“If indeed pollinators are under threat, we must find a way forward to address those problems and we look to you, the scientific community and the body of your work for the options to ensure that these species survive and thrive,” said Najib during his keynote address.

The prime minister also paid tribute to an insect from Africa, which has helped the country’s palm oil industry save over US$10 billion in its role as an effective pollinator.

“In the early years of our palm oil industry, pollination was done by hand, much of it by women -- a time-consuming and ineffective practice. After years of study, a group of researchers found a highly effective pollinator for oil palm trees in the form of a weevil from Africa.

“This development led to a significant increase in oil palm production. And the total amount of money saved by the Malaysian palm oil industry in the period 1982-2015 through using this insect pollinator instead of human labour is believed to be in the magnitude of some US$10 billion.”

Najib, during the conference, outlined to scientists and policy makers a series of other measures taken by the Malaysian government to protect biodiversity within its own jurisdiction and through regional agreements.

He said Malaysia was embarking on the Central Forest Initiative, which covers an area to create linkages between the four main forest areas covering the central mountain range in Peninsular Malaysia.

Najib said at a regional level, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei were working together under the Heart of Borneo Initiative to conserve approximately 200,000 square kilometres of forest together. About 30 per cent of the protected area, he said, was in Malaysian territory.

“The services that nature provides sustain humanity: food, shelter, clean air and clean water. And yet, recent scientific assessments indicate that at least 60 per cent of natural resources are being degraded globally due to human activity, most particularly those occurring during the last half-century.”

UN biodiversity conference opens in Malaysia
"Humanity is edging that little bit closer to an unavoidable crossroads": United Nations' official Ibrahim Thiaw on the importance of biodiversity preservation work, at the plenary opening on Monday.

Sumisha Naidu, Malaysia Correspondent, Channel NewsAsia 22 Feb 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Scientists and policy makers from about 124 countries are gathered in Malaysia's capital city for the fourth plenary of a United Nations-backed body that assesses the stage of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is being held in Malaysia from Monday (Feb 22) to Feb 28. It is set to launch its first assessment report since it was first formed in 2012, on Friday.

The IPBES plans on releasing "the most authoritative review ever" on the health and value of pollinators, which are under threat by human activity.

At the plenary opening on Monday, the deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Ibrahim Thiaw also underscored the importance of work to preserve biodiversity with the human population expected to hit more than 9 billion people in less than 40 years.

"Humanity is edging that little bit closer to an unavoidable crossroads where some hard decisions must be taken to address the health and well-being of us all," he said in his speech.

He added: "By destroying or fragmenting habitats, wild species are more likely to come close to humans, notably the poorest communities that have little immunity and nearly no health facilities.

"Our best insurance against repetitive outbreaks of viruses as a global community is to maintain our ecosystems' health. "

- CNA/hs

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