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  • Writer's pictureSimon Kaack

The Web of Life: Political Pathways to Safeguard Biodiversity

Under cautious political measures, successes in biodiversity protection are slowly growing.

Building on our knowledge on the importance of biodiversity and indigenous wisdom in recent weeks, we now turn to potential policy solutions in this final article. As governments, scientists, and environmental advocates grapple with the urgency of biodiversity protection, political efforts play a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of Southeast Asia's diverse flora and fauna. Thus, regional as well as national and global forums and proposed solutions must be considered.

National legislation is the most obvious venue that comes to mind for biodiverse pathways. There are several approaches here, some of which have been in place for a long time. For example, Indonesia has an Environmental Law that includes provisions for biodiversity conservation. The country has established national parks, wildlife reserves, and protected areas to safeguard its diverse ecosystems. Malaysia instead possesses a National Forestry Act, which helps regulate logging activities and promotes sustainable forest management. Further, a Wildlife Conservation Act is aimed at protecting its diverse fauna. The law regulates the hunting, trade, and possession of wildlife.

Forests are the focus of many national protection laws.

In contrast, Thailand's National Park Act plays a key role in biodiversity conservation by establishing and managing national parks and protected areas. Another Act, focusing on Wild Animal Reservation and Protection, serves the protection of wild animals, regulating their capture, possession, and trade. Equally, Cambodia has implemented several laws and policies to address biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. The Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management from 1996 can be considered a starting point in this regard. This law serves as a comprehensive framework for environmental protection and management of natural resources, including biodiversity. It establishes guidelines for sustainable development and the conservation of ecosystems and wildlife.

In addition, the Forest Law from 2002 focuses on the sustainable management and conservation of forest resources, which are also integral to biodiversity. The law addresses issues such as logging, land-use planning, and community forestry. More recent examples in Cambodia consist of the Law on Natural Protected Areas from 2016, which specifically focuses on the management and conservation of natural protected areas, reinforcing the importance of these areas for biodiversity conservation. It provides a legal framework for the designation, administration, and protection of such areas. These laws represent just a portion of the legal frameworks in Southeast Asia aimed at biodiversity conservation. While regulations exist, effective enforcement and implementation remain challenges. Additionally, regional cooperation is crucial to address transboundary issues such as illegal wildlife trade and habitat connectivity.

Different habitats such as forests and rivers often merge seamlessly into one another.

Many countries in the region are also active participants in international conventions and agreements related to biodiversity conservation. Cambodia for instance has also actively participated in international conventions related to biodiversity, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty established in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The CBD aims to address the growing loss of biodiversity and promote its sustainable use. The convention has three main objectives:

  1. Conservation of Biodiversity: The CBD seeks to conserve biological diversity at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. This involves the protection of ecosystems, species, and genetic resources, as well as the sustainable management of these resources.

  2. Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: The convention emphasizes the sustainable use of biological resources to meet the needs of present and future generations. This includes ensuring that harvesting, utilization, and trade of biological resources are conducted in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.

  3. Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits: The CBD highlights the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, with particular attention to the contributions of indigenous and local communities to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Thereby, the CBD provides crucial services for the provision of ecosystem services such as pollination, water purification, and climate regulation. These services are vital for human well-being and sustainable development. It operates through various mechanisms, including conferences of the parties, subsidiary bodies, and national strategies and action plans.

The biodiversity COPs are there to create an overall international picture from the national mosaic pieces.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD is a series of meetings held regularly to assess and advance the implementation of the CBD's objectives. The first meeting, or COP1, was held in 1994 and hosted in Nassau, Bahamas and established the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to provide scientific guidance. A big success was achieved at COP 15 in 2022, hosted in Montreal, Canada. Here, parties adopted an international agreement to protect 30% of land and oceans by 2030 (30 by 30) and the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

In sum, the described COP meetings and national legislations play a vital role in shaping international policies and actions related to biodiversity conservation, providing a platform for collaboration and negotiation among countries to address the global challenges of biodiversity loss. While progress has been made since their inception, challenges persist, such as habitat destruction, overexploitation of resources, pollution, and climate change. Continuous local, regional and international collaboration and efforts at various levels are crucial for the effective implementation of the convention and the conservation of global biodiversity.


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