’30 by 30’ is the goal included in the draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, meaning that 30 per cent globally of land and sea ought to be conserved through systems of protected areas by 2030. In South-East Asia, where currently only 3.88 per cent of sea areas fall under this protection, this target is an enormous challenge. In order to catalyse action for the achievement of new biodiversity targets in South-East Asia, the EU Ocean Governance project partnered up with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity to host a three-day workshop in Puerto Princesa, Philippines. 

From 23 to 25 November, 30 participants from different ASEAN countries came together in Puerto Princesa to share knowledge and expertise among each other regarding the progress on plans and strategies to achieve new protection targets. The workshop was organised in anticipation of the currently ongoing 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where the new Global Biodiversity Framework shall be agreed upon. The current draft of the text for CBD includes target 3:

 “Ensure that at least 30 per cent globally of land areas and of sea areas, especially areas of particular importance  for  biodiversity  and  its  contributions  to  people,  are  conserved  through  effectively  and equitably  managed,  ecologically  representative  and  well connected  systems  of  protected  areas  and other  effective  area-based  conservation  measures,  and  integrated  into  the  wider  landscapes  and seascapes” (CBD/WG2020/3/3 First Draft of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) 

To reach this new Aichi biodiversity target of potentially 30 per cent in South-East Asia, it will require considerable amounts of ambition and investment. The success of this endeavour is dependent on transboundary cooperation and knowledge-sharing, which the EU Ocean Governance project aims to facilitate as part of its project components 3 and 4. The workshop in Puerto Princesa aimed to deliver capacity-building that helps the ASEAN countries to better appreciate this new set of goals and to harness their potential to reach them.

Marine protected areas are not the only form of conservation that are accepted under the new Biodiversity Framework, and the workshop reflected this by discussing alternative approaches for site-based conservation. Presentations therefore covered the topics of other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) and indigenous and community conserved areas. Our expert speakers further gave presentations on sustainable finance of different conservation measures, which inspired lively discussions in brainstorming groups among the participants. One day of the workshop was dedicated to a field visit to the community-led Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPUR), where it was extremely insightful to listen to the voices of the local people in charge of managing and conserving this area. 

The workshop has been a success on many levels. First of all, it achieved its main goal of sharing knowledge and expertise among Southeast Asian nations to facilitate the achievement of the new biodiversity targets. It also offered a platform for cooperation and a space where new partnerships could be built, as it brought together actors from government and civil society of many different countries. Last but not least, this workshop has been the first contact with the EU Ocean Governance project, expanding our scope to new countries including Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. 

We want to thank the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, our consortium partners at WWF, and all participants for their support and participation in this workshop. Our team is now at COP15, where we closely follow the ongoing negotiations and promote the need for capacity building and knowledge exchange in the form of events like this last workshop in Puerto Princesa.