The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, a program designed to recognize outstanding individuals who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy in their respective countries, was one of the highlights of the observance of 50 years of ASEAN in this year’s host country, the Philippines.
The 10 Heroes, representing each of the 10 ASEAN Member States, were cited for their extraordinary success in biodiversity conservation in their respective countries in an awards ceremony held on August 7, 2017, at New World Manila Bay Hotel. They are: Eyad Samhan (Brunei Darussalam), Sophea Chhin (Cambodia), Alex Waisimon (Indonesia), Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham (Lao PDR), Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia), Dr. Maung Maung Kyi (Myanmar), Dr. Angel C. Alcala (Philippines), Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin (Singapore), Dr. Nonn Panitvong (Thailand), and Prof. Dang Huy Huynh (Viet Nam).
Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), presented to them a special award, the Hyundai Icon for Biodiversity, for their indefatigable commitment to curb biodiversity loss through the implementation of awareness programs and conservation initiatives through their work and expertise in the fields of taxonomy, marine biology, wildlife and aquatic resources, research, and training and education, among others, within their respective countries and beyond.
Said HFI President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, “HARI counts close to 20 years as a business and over a decade of nation-building through HFI, taking responsible corporate investment to heart. Together with the ACB, we kick off a new leg in our journey of the heart as the Philippine automotive industry’s champion for biodiversity in the ASEAN region . . . Here and now, we demonstrate bayanihan as one ASEAN . . . presenting to the world an alternative growth model, and sparking a regional movement for a future worth saving.”
“The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes are individuals whom people can identify with and will inspire others to take action for biodiversity in their own spheres of influence. As ASEAN Member States continue to work on national development and sustainability goals, and collaborate on regional initiatives to conserve ASEAN’s shared natural wealth, the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes play the crucial role of spreading awareness for the urgent need to conserve biodiversity,”ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh said.
HFI partnered with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in this landmark search for these“defenders of the web of life.” This milestone venture between HFI and ACB amplifies the rallying call of HFI to nurture the treasure trove of flora and fauna in the region to achieve a more sustainable future for generations to come.
The awards ceremony was immediately followed by a forum, where the Heroes interacted with students and other proponents of biodiversity in the country. Session 1 tackled the role of national governments in promoting biodiversity conservation while Session 2 focused on biodiversity education and public outreach.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is supported by the ASEAN Secretariat, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the European Union (EU). ACB serves as the awards secretariat.