Government communication officers, biodiversity experts from the ten ASEAN member countries, and representatives from regional organisations are gathering in Mandaluyong city, the Philippines, for a workshop on ASEAN Biodiversity Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA).

Addressing the opening session on November 24, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Roberto Oliva said the three-day workshop is to strengthen the capacity of ASEAN countries in promoting public awareness of the values of biodiversity to help reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

He added that the event is a contribution of the ASEAN member states and ACB in realising Target No. 1 of the global biodiversity Aichi Targets, which states that by 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

The workshop aims to assist the ASEAN countries in strengthening their CEPA strategies to enable them to meet their commitments as Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity; share good CEPA practices from the ASEAN region and other parts of the world; while identifying challenges and discuss actions to strengthen the ASEAN countries' capacity to communicate biodiversity.

It also focuses on enhancing the participants' skills in preparing national CEPA strategies; drafting an outline of the ASEAN Regional CEPA Strategy; and establishing a network of communicators who will take the lead in promoting biodiversity conservation in the ASEAN member countries.

The workshop will be followed by an awarding ceremony for the 2014 ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity, which recognises outstanding projects on biodiversity conservation and advocacy in the ASEAN region.-VNA