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ERIA Participates in Brunei Darussalam Conference on Biodiversity

11 June 2024

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Bandar Seri Begawan, 11-12 June 2024: ERIA participated in the Brunei Darussalam Conference on Biodiversity, co-hosted by Universiti Brunei Darussalam and the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism of Brunei Darussalam.

ERIA President Tetsuya Watanabe delivered the keynote speech, speaking on ‘Fostering a Green, Connected, and Biodiversity ASEAN for a Sustainable Future’. He highlighted ASEAN’s critical juncture as this region looks toward achieving ASEAN Community Vision 2045, a roadmap for a peaceful, prosperous, and green Southeast Asia by 2045. Along with the vision, this incredibly biodiverse region is experiencing alarming rates of biodiversity loss, deforestation, and water scarcity. ‘To address these challenges, ASEAN needs immediate and coordinated action. Ensuring a thriving future for ASEAN and its people.’ President Watanabe remarked.

He also mentioned that the principle of ASEAN Digital Economy Framework (DEFA) which underscores leveraging digital technologies, can further drive inclusive growth and sustainability, consequently impacting climate mitigation efforts. ‘Collaborative efforts in research, innovation, and evidence-based policy making, combined with digital technologies, public–private-people partnerships, and co-benefit approaches, create a strong foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future for ASEAN and the Planet’ President Watanabe stated.

In the end, he highlighted that ERIA will establish the Asia Zero Emission Centre, as mandated by leaders of the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC). This initiative is pivotal to achieving the region’s shared-vision of net-zero emissions and a resilient economy.

In the afternoon, Ventakachalam Anbumozhi, ERIA Director of Research Strategy and Innovation, shared his expertise during the second panel discussion on ‘Conservation Innovations: Restoring and Safeguarding Biodiversity.’ He emphasised the critical role of nature-based solutions in addressing climate change, highlighting how these solutions not only help conserve and restore biodiversity but also have the potential to drive carbon markets in Asia.

On the second day of the conference, during the fifth panel discussion on ‘Biodiversity’s Role in Building Resilience to Climate Change’, Michikazu Kojima, ERIA Senior Research Fellow on Environmental Issues, discussed the impacts of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and climate sustainability. He explained that Southeast Asia’s marine ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass, and salt marshes play a crucial role in mitigating climate change through the sequestration and storage of carbon from the atmosphere and ocean. However, in recent years, the vital carbon sink ecosystems have been endangered by anthropogenic activities, notably plastic pollution.

‘Mangrove and seagrass ecosystems have complex structures that create a high trapping potential for marine plastics. Acting as plastic sinks has imposed negative impacts on their overall growth and survival rates,’ Kojima stated. With plastic pollution on the rise, mitigating its effects on blue carbon ecosystems is crucial for climate resilience. Kojima shared both preventive and reactive countermeasures that various stakeholders can take to combat plastic accumulation in mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

‘ERIA, through the Regional Knowledge Centre for Marine Plastic Debris, is actively contributing to this cause by implementing preventive countermeasures, such as knowledge production and dissemination efforts throughout the region,’ he concluded.

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