The Asean-Business Advisory Council (Asean-BAC) and the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) have forged a partnership to boost business and biodiversity integration initiatives in the region.
They signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in Jakarta on September 2 at the Asean Climate Forum 2023, during the Asean-BAC Business and Investment Summit Week.
Asean-BAC Chairman and Executive Director M. Arsjad Rasjid P. Mangkuningrat and ACB Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim signed the agreement.
According to ACB, the pioneering partnership aims to further boost biodiversity and sustainability mainstreaming in business operations across Southeast Asia, particularly in the carbon trading market and adoption of nature-based solutions to climate change.
The collaboration also aims to provide a platform for the Asean business sectors or groups to actively promote and exchange knowledge and practices on their emerging sustainability efforts in order to create a strong network of nature-positive business alliances among the Asean member states.
Sustainable development: A priority agenda
As Asean-BAC chairman for 2023, Indonesia decided to promote sustainable development as a priority agenda of the regional group.
“This is not because of Indonesia’s interests; this is a global concern that has become of regional importance,” M. Arsjad Rasjid P. M said in his opening speech.
He said Asean countries have tremendous potential to mitigate climate change and achieve net zero.
He added that it is inspiring to see progress on how Asean countries may inclusively collaborate and collectively push the climate action agenda for the greater benefit of society.
“Recognising the challenges of climate change and sustainability on communities and societies in the region, under the chairmanship of Indonesia, the Asean-BAC has committed to launching significant legacy programs which are the Asean Net Zero Hub and the Asean Carbon Center of Excellence,” he said.
M. Arsjad Rasjid explained that the projects were developed based on two observations.
First, Asean countries are committed to net zero that requires a strong understanding of the regional pathway, and synchronizing the efforts together is key.
Second, companies in Asean are increasingly looking to develop climate strategies and solutions to improve their performance across their value chains and share long-term access to finance.
For her part, Lim expressed excitement to have the opportunity to engage with the Asean business community through the Asean Business Advisory Council.
She added that it would help to ensure that the road to net zero in the Asean incorporates the contribution of nature-based solutions, including biodiversity conservation and benefits for climate change mitigation and resilience.
Lim pointed out: “The ACB as the centre of excellence for regional cooperation in addressing biodiversity loss, is very much committed to mainstreaming biodiversity in the development agenda. This partnership is a step forward in promoting biodiversity conservation as a viable investment.”
Asean Business and Biodiversity Initiative
The ACB and Asean-BAC collaboration is expected to lead to the establishment of an Asean Business and Biodiversity Initiative (ABBI) as the regional platform for the joint implementation of activities through the Asean-BAC Working Group on Sustainable Development.
ACB explained that the ABBI is designed to actively contribute to the transitioning to a greener and sustainable future for Asean through the mainstreaming of biodiversity and nature-based solutions in the strategic priorities of the business sector in the region.
The Asean-BAC will be taking the lead to ensure continuity and maximize the reach of business networks and implementing nature-positive systems and processes in the business strategies of its members.
At the same time, the ACB will facilitate in proposing collaborative actions and activities, or joint programs among relevant stakeholders in the region on cutting-edge technologies and policy frameworks relevant to mainstreaming biodiversity in business and finance.
The partnership will ensure regional representation of each Asean member state (AMS).
Interviewed by BusinessMirror via Messenger on August 21, Lim outlined the objectives of the ABBI.
“[ABBI’s objective] is to facilitate cooperation to enhance the role of the business sector in advancing Asean’s climate goals and green and blue economy through nature-based solutions and mainstreaming biodiversity,” Lim said.
Lim, who advocates the mainstreaming of biodiversity in the region, said the Asean-BAC-ACB initiative also aims to contribute toward building sustainable supply and value chains by supporting capacity-development programs for micro-, small-, medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. Thus, this will encourage the adoption of biodiversity-friendly and climate-smart practices and operations.
She added that it also aims to encourage more investments in biodiversity mainstreaming and nature-based solutions through targeted communication, education, and public awareness-raising campaigns, sharing best practices and demonstrating the benefits of incorporating biodiversity in business plans and processes, using natural capital accounting, risk analysis, impact assessment, ecosystem valuation, and other science-based methodologies.
Nature-based solutions, sustainability tool kit
ACB said the initial possible joint programs or activities being explored include the following: the conduct of studies on nature-based solutions; creation of sustainability tool kit for MSMEs to help them move toward net zero carbon targets; stocktaking of lessons and good practices on business and biodiversity engagements; biodiversity mapping of Asean Heritage Parks.
The activities also include support to AMS in producing communication, education and public awareness materials and knowledge products on improving the policy environment and programs that support business and biodiversity efforts, among others.
The ACB serves as the chairman in the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity from 2022 to 2024. Mainstreaming biodiversity is one of the priority programs of the ACB in key sectors, such as business and investments, in recognition of their significant role in biodiversity conservation and in ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources in the region.
Image credits: ACB