ACB chief: Concerted efforts needed towards future-ready, green cities

CALOOCAN CITY, Nov. 1 (PIA) -- In the global observance of the World Cities Day, the head of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) underlined the need for greater partnership among the private and public sectors, and communities in further developing future-ready and sustainable cities amid risks posed by climate change and the emergence of infectious diseases.

“The conservation of the remaining natural areas and biodiversity in the cities, and developing green spaces are of paramount priority. Mainstreaming and integrating biodiversity into urban planning must be done, and it will entail the collaboration of various sectors and stakeholders,” said ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim in her press statement on Saturday.

Designated by the United Nations in 2014, the celebration of World Cities Day seeks to promote global interest in urbanisation and engender international cooperation to address the challenges of urbanization, thereby contributing to sustainable urban development.

Lim said as urbanisation becomes inevitable, the development of cities must take into consideration present and future needs, and their long-term impacts on nature and biodiversity. 

“In the ASEAN and the rest of the world, the expansion and development of urban areas have brought economic development right at the fringes of forests or marine coastal areas, resulting in the alarming decline of vast natural resources and biological diversity,” she said. She cited the estimates of the 2018 ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy report that more than half of the region’s populations are concentrated in the cities, and this number will increase by more than 70 million by 2025.

Given these challenges, Lim commended some regional, national, and local actions in conserving and enriching biodiversity and ecosystems in urban areas.

She shared that the ASEAN region has been making headway in developing green and sustainable cities. Under the Bio-Bridge Initiative of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) of Thailand are leading the development of an ASEAN Work Programme on green infrastructure, aimed at integrating green infrastructure and urban biodiversity and incorporating ecosystem-based adaptation solutions into the member states’ planning and development. The draft of this work programme is currently under review by the ASEAN Member States. 

The ACB head likewise acknowledged the continued actions to conserve the last lungs of some cities in the region.

She mentioned the declaration of the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila, Philippines, as a "permanent forest park," just early this year. The conservation of the 2.2-hectare park, which hosts more than 3,000 trees of 61 varieties and 8,000 ornamental plants and is home to 10 bird species, will help build resilience against siltation and flooding, apart from contributing to the physical and mental wellness of the city residents.

Meanwhile, the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC), a 23.85-hectare protected area in the heart of Quezon City, Philippines, continues to serve a haven for 73 bird species freely flying in the area and a place of recreation for tourists and locals.

In Thailand, on the other hand, green spaces in the megacity of Bangkok are being integrated into urban structures that can also be used for agricultural production.

“Without a doubt, urban biodiversity contributes by and large to the overall capacity of cities and communities to function well and become more resilient,” said Lim, stressing that urban development and biodiversity need not be at opposing ends. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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