Harnessing the ASEAN youth’s powers for the environment

In the multiverse theory, there exist alternate realities where we have Earths that are untouched, lush, and teeming with biodiversity.

But our reality is we only have one Earth, and on this World Environment Day, we once again contemplate its health and existence to ensure that we protect our own, as a species. The loss of biological diversity on this planet translates into deterioration that affects us all who inhabit it. In Southeast Asia, some 221 species are considered critically endangered. Projections show that the region is poised to lose 13-42 per cent of species and 70-90 per cent of habitats by 2100 if drivers such as habitat fragmentation, pollution and climate change are unabated.

For the people of ASEAN, the rich biodiversity not only underpins the region’s economic development and prosperity – it also is an integral part of our identity. Our culture, our knowledge and our practices are intricately connected with the diversity of life that surrounds us. Nature also holds the solution to the challenges that our region, and indeed the rest of the world, are currently facing. Healthy and intact ecosystems help in mitigating climate impacts, and even regulating disease outbreaks. Irreversible damage to this natural wealth will thus have a huge negative impact on our lives and livelihoods in the region.

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