An introductory workshop on “Natural Capital in ASEAN” took place on 27-28 November 2019 in Bangkok. The workshop was organised in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), with support from the Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI).
The event is part of a series of dialogue activities between the European Commission and ASEAN on environment and climate change. It brought together 65 representatives from the ASEAN Working Group for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB), related ministries from ASEAN Member States, the Natural Capital Coalition (NCC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ASEAN Secretariat, ACB, civil society organisations, the private sector, think tanks and universities, and the EU Delegations in the region (Bangkok and Jakarta).
The ASEAN region is known for its rich natural resources and biodiversity. Over the years it has become vulnerable as a result of ecosystem degradation, marine debris, water and air pollution, and climate change.
‘’There is a need for governments, industries, and private sectors to better value biodiversity and strengthen natural capital, and mainstream them into development and investment,’’ said Dr Vong Sok, Head of Environment Division of the ASEAN Secretariat.
Awareness on how businesses and communities affect (and depend upon) Natural Capital-defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets: minerals, soil, air, water forests and all living things- remains relatively limited. Marta Santamaria, Policy Officer with the Natural Capital Coalition, explained: "Impacts and dependencies on natural capital create both costs and benefits, not only for businesses but also for society. These are transferred as risks and opportunities that businesses need to manage more carefully. Natural capital 'integral accounting' approaches can help businesses and policy makers seizing the magnitude and value of ecosystem services, so to take better decisions and limit risks."
The two-day workshop facilitated a dialogue between EU and ASEAN on tools and narratives for the integration of natural capital in related decision-making. In a peer-to-peer setting, EU counterparts shared best practices to create greater value from nature-based solutions and become more efficient.
As a follow-up to the workshop, a draft ASEAN Natural Capital Road Map will be prepared in close consultation between the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat. This document aims at clarifying how the EU, NCC, ASEAN Secretariat, UNEP, ASEAN Member States and other international organisations could contribute to the establishment of e.g. a regional Natural Capital Platform, or network. A first draft could be discussed at the EU-ASEAN High Level Dialogue in the summer 2020.
Michael Bucki, EU Counsellor for Environment and Climate Change to Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN concluded: “Accounting for natural assets and associated ecosystem services helps countries and businesses to assess risk, to optimise value, but also to realise the magnitude of their dependence on increasingly scarce resources, renewable or not.”