UNESCO Office Jakarta in collaboration with ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) organized the Workshop on “Strengthening Science-Policy-Society Interface for Implementing Sustainability Biodiversity Conservation in ASEAN and Asia Pacific Region” on 19-20 June 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The two-day workshop was attended by 55 participants, among them 36% women, and brought together partners and stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Sustainability Science demonstration sites to share results, representatives from ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP), Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, representatives from FutureEarth and the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia as well as Japan Water Agency.
This workshop was the last activity under the two projects “Sustainable Transformation Across the Region” (STAR) supported by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) and “Science Harnessed for ASEAN Regional Policy” (SHARP) supported by Malaysia Funds-In-Trust (MFIT). The aim of the workshop was to disseminate and discuss the results of STAR project by sharing successful stories on sustainability science demonstration sites in Asia and the Pacific region, and to disseminate the results of SHARP project to ASEAN Member Countries in order to enhance understanding on how sustainability science approach can assist sites, including UNESCO Designated Sites and ASEAN Heritage Parks.
The Opening session began with welcoming remarks from Atty. Roberto Oliva, Executive Director of ACB and from Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director and Representative UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. This was followed by remarks from both donors: Video remarks from Mr. Kazuaki Kawabata, Secretary General Japanese National Commission and remarks from Malaysian National Commission by Ms. Roslinda binti Mat Musa as representative of Secretary General Malaysian National Commission. Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim delivered her remarks as Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Philippines. Prof Shahbaz Khan launched the Sustainability Science publications produced under the two Sustainability Science projects STAR and SHARP including “Photostories from demonstration sites” of each project, “Lessons Learnt and Best Practices Sustainability Science”, and “Science-Policy-Society Interface Policy Paper – Practical Guidelines to Apply Sustainability Science Frameworks”. The Policy paper also includes the framework, achievements and results from the Indonesian Funds in Trust Sustainability Science project “A Sustainable Future: Supporting Indonesia’s Strategies to Address the Social Implications of Climate Change”.
The first technical session focused on Sustainability and Biodiversity Conservation in ASEAN. Dr. Ai Sugiura, UNESCO presented UNESCO Natural Sciences Programmes related to Biodiversity and ecosystems conservations with introducing in particular UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage and Geoparks site as well International Hydrological Programme Hydrology for Environment Life and Policy river basins as sustainable development models. Dr. Filiberto Pollisco, Jr. from ACB presented then “Integrating Science-Policy-Society through ASEAN Heritage Park”. Panelists who were representatives from ASEAN Member States/MAB (Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao PDR; Malaysia; Philippines; Thailand; Vietnam; Myanmar), were invited to deliver the main challenges and issues in the context of biodiversity conservation and specific economic development of their country. The second session was organized as two group discussions, the first group discussion aimed to identify the management challenges of sites such as ASEAN Heritage Park, World Heritage, Biosphere Reserve at local level with the following questions:
- the challenges of being a multi-designated site (UNESCO and ASEAN) for local development
- how being a site (UNESCO or ASEAN) can contribute to biodiversity conservation or does being a site challenge local development?
Second group discussion focused on how to understand the institutional frameworks in successful sites where the site designation is creating a local development dynamic as well as identifying what are the necessary policy and institutional framework necessary and sufficient for successful designated sites to act as engine for local development. The first day was concluded with the following remarks:
- All participants agree it is beneficial to have designated sites (recognition, pride, local empowerment, sense of belonging, government support).
- However on multiple designation, because of differences in guidelines or requirements sometimes areas covered by the different designation, it can create confusion in the establishment and efficient implementation of management plan.
- Designation or multiple designations come with responsibilities and duties sometimes becoming challenges especially in successfully providing alternative livelihoods when some activities have to be abandoned because some areas are now dedicated to conservation purposes.
- All participants agreed Sustainability Science can be a useful tool for different purposes:
- For monitoring and evaluation and effective co-management
- For awareness raising and community empowerment and sense of ownership due to its socially inclusive aspects and social learning
- As an integrative tool for policy development or existing policy upgrade with tailored made solutions.
On the second day of the workshop, the different UNESCO Sustainability Science Frameworks developed by Science Unit and Social Human Sciences Unit of UNESCO Office Jakarta were presented to the participants. Prof. Tahmina Rashid from University of Canberra presented the results of an integrative socio-environmental approach study on the five Sustainability Science UNESCO demonstration sites. Partners and stakeholders of the demonstration sites then shared the results, challenges, and way forward from implementing Sustainability Science framework and applying Sustainability Science approach in solving water-related problems at a UNESCO designated site. Prof Helmi from Andalas University shared also the findings and results from his demonstration site in Indonesia emphasizing social learning processes and transformational change. Then Mr. Seishi Nabesaka from Japan Water Agency presented how water scarcity issues were tackled in Ogasawara Island World Heritage within the spirit of IWRM. The last session of the workshop focused on reflecting on the achievements of the two projects, discussing the lessons learnt and way forward or possible future for Sustainability Science through a Panel discussion with as panelists representatives of FutureEarth in the region, the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia.
The panelists debated on the following points:
- There is a need to clarify what participatory process means and how to achieve it.
- Sustainability Science is about managing the boundaries between the different stakeholders and allowing the flourishing of innovative solutions which are the real impact of science on society.
- Sustainability Science is not new however the UNESCO branding can be significant as it can bring together actors and stakeholders who usually do not come together.
- Sustainability Science still needs to gain trust from decision makers and policy makers as well as youth and private sectors.
- Sustainability Science will become sustainable development when the local community can apply it even without money because they have been convinced and when Sustainability Science become advice to policy makers and to policy making.
- Sustainability Science can be the tool to bring adaptability to people in this uncertain environment and future.
The workshop was closed by Prof Shahbaz Khan and Atty Roberto Oliva concluding Sustainability Science could be a useful tool and there is a need to create a community of practices and an e-platform to share and diffuse all results and achievements of STAR and SHARP projects.