Imported in 1981 to pollinate trees, African Oil Palm Weevil makes a significant annual contribution to Malaysian prosperity PM launches newly-revised national policy to guide biodiversity management through 2025 KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 (Bernama) --
Opening a major UN biodiversity meeting at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri
Najib Tun Razak today paid tribute to an insect from Africa credited with adding billions of dollars to national prosperity. He also welcomed scientists and policy makers from 124 countries to the 4th
Plenary of the UN’s Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
And he underlined Malaysia’s special interest in the issue, citing the African Oil Palm Weevil as an example of the enormous economic and other benefits such species provide. The bug played a fundamental role in establishing an industry that has become a cornerstone of Malaysia’s economy.
Back when the oil palm industry was still very young, he noted, and after years of study, the weevil was imported from Cameroon in West Africa and introduced to Malaysian plantations in 1981 to help pollinate trees, work previously done by hand, much of it by women – “a timeconsuming and ineffective practice.”
Introduction of the weevil to the process led to a significant increase in palm oil production. The total amount of money saved by the Malaysian palm oil industry in the period 1982 to 2015 through using this insect pollinator instead of human labour is in the magnitude of US$ 10 billion.”
The IPBES is a world body that convenes biodiversity science experts and policy makers. It’s first- ever assessment report, to be launched Friday, 26 February, constitutes the most authoritative review ever of the health and value of pollinators – some 20, 000 species of bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and others. Pollinator populations are harmed by human activities in many parts of the world.
“If indeed pollinators are under threat,” the Prime Minister told delegates in his keynote speech, “we must find a way forward to address those problems and we look to you for the options to ensure that species survive and thrive.”
Governments, he added, acknowledge with deep appreciation the partnership of scientists in efforts to alleviate or solve the many acute problems confronting societies today.
Najib noted that political leaders face the twin challenges of policy making to protect humanity’s natural heritage while fostering socio-economic progress and eradicating poverty.
Answers to sustainable development quandaries are available however, he said, by leveraging the expertise of the scientific community, seeking their insight into likely scenarios of the future given today’s trends and trajectories, and taking under advisement their modelling of the results to anticipate from a range of policy options.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister also launched a revised version of Malaysia’s National Policy on Biological Diversity, which will guide national biodiversity management through 2025.
Through this policy, Malaysia, one of the world’s 12 mega-diverse nations, emphasizes the need for conservation, sustainable utilisation and the sharing of biodiversity’s benefits in a fair and equitable manner. The revised policy improves on its predecessor by adding clear targets and timelines for implementing action (for additional information: www.nre.gov.my)
The policy calls for the active participation of all stakeholders and supports Malaysia’s strategic efforts and obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and to meet the world’s recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals.
The Prime Minister outlined a series of other steps taken by Malaysia over the years to protect biodiversity within its own jurisdiction and through regional agreements.
For example, he noted that forest fragmentation due to past development poses a threat to biodiversity. In response, Malaysia is embarking on the 5.3 million hectare national Central Forest Spine initiative to create linkages between the four main forest areas covering the central mountain range in Peninsular Malaysia.
This long term plan will conserve and rehabilitate small forest fragments and increase their connectivity with the main forest. The Central Forest Spine will cover an estimated 40% of Peninsular Malaysia, with 80% of that area designated as Permanent Forest Reserve, helping safeguard species survival.
Similarly at a regional level, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have partnered in the “Heart of Borneo” Initiative to conserve approximately 200,000 square kilometres of forest together. About 30% of the protected area is in Malaysian territory.
“The services that nature provides sustain humanity: food, shelter, clean air and clean water. And yet recent scientific assessments indicate that at least 60% of these services are being degraded globally due to human activity, most particularly those occurring during the last half-century.”
The forthcoming IPBES’ report on pollinator species, two years in preparation by a team of 77 global experts, has major implications for the global food supply, agriculture industry and world economy. It is the first assessment presented to IPBES member nations since the organisation was created in 2012.
The Prime Minister’s Science Advisor, Tan Sri
Zakri Abdul Hamid, has Chaired the IPBES since its inauguration. An election this week will choose his successor, to be announced at the meeting’s conclusion later on 28 February (Sunday).
“The first output of IPBES has been seminal and we are grateful for the contributions of the various experts,” says Prof. Zakri, who serves as co-Chair of MIGHT, the Malaysian Industry -Government Group for High Technology.
“But this is only the beginning. The road ahead is long and winding, particularly with respect to the need to strengthen the ability of nations to do authoritative assessments to inform decision-making.” Initiatives by the Government of Malaysia, such as the Science to Action (S2A) programme will ensure that relevant actions will be taken by not only the Government but also the industries.
Datuk Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MIGHT; the implementing agency of S2A further highlighted, “MIGHT fully subscribed to the objective of sustainability and capacity building. We are the ideal platform to match industries’ capacity needs with human and natural resources”. All these initiatives are in line with current S2A Initiative and the Eleventh Malaysia Plan. About Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT)
The Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) is a not-forprofit company limited by guarantee under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. MIGHT, the implementing agency for Science to Action (S2A) national agenda, plays a key role in developing Malaysia’s high technology for business through its role as a thinktank, private-public consensus building and business nurturing platforms. It is an organisation built on the strength of public-private partnership with more than 100 members, both local and international, from industry, government and academia. (www.might.org.my) IPBES For more information about IPBES-4
: www.ipbes.net/media SOURCE : Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT)
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