11th Heart of Borneo Trilateral Meeting held in Indonesia
KOTA KINABALU: The 11th Heart of Borneo Trilateral Meeting was successfully held on October 11 to 12 in Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Trilateral Meeting is an annual meeting held on rotational basis by the three member countries, i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, to present progress by each member country in implementing relevant programmes under the initiative; and also serves as an important platform to discuss on possible collaborations under the HoB Initiative that can be implemented by the member countries.
The Malaysian delegation was headed by Dato’ Sr Azimuddin Bahari, Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia, and was well attended by officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia, Sabah Forestry Department, Forest Department Sarawak and also from the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources, Sarawak.
The meeting was officially opened by Irianto Lambire, Governor of North Kalimantan. In his opening speech, Lambire conveyed that the theme of the 11th HoB Trilateral Meeting, i.e. Promoting Ecotourism in HoB for Sustainable Development: Visit the Heart of Borneo, is relevant with the current situation and stated that at this moment, there are many challenges such as climate change, deforestation and hunger. Therefore, the HoB member countries’ commitments in maintaining sustainability of the forest is crucial, having its role as natural balance catalyst, sustaining life, as well as protecting oxygen and water supply. He further emphasised on the importance of evaluating the progress of the HoB and suggested that all initiatives should be transformed into actions.
Malaysia’s proposal on ‘Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros,’ tabled since the 9th HoB Trilateral Meeting has received positive attention whereby during the 11th HoB Trilateral Meeting, it was informed that Malaysia and Indonesia will conduct a Technical Experts Meeting on October 18 to 20 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to provide technical recommendations on rhinoceros conservation to both Governments. Malaysia also proposed that the High Level Bilateral Meeting on Sumatran Rhinoceros Conservation to be held on December 4 and 5.
Other significant outcomes of the meeting, among others, are (i) the implementation of the HoB Corridor Project by each member country, whereby connectivity of protected areas between the three countries is to be addressed; (ii) to proceed with capacity building activities for the proposed ‘Sharing of Experience and Relevant Data Through the Existing TransBoundary Project for Capacity Building’ programme; and (iii) the launching of the Visit Heart of Borneo campaign in support to the proposal on Green Ecotourism and Destination in HoB.
In conjunction with the 11th HoB Trilateral Meeting, the ‘Visit Heart of Borneo’ campaign was launched on October 11 during the Welcoming Dinner. This is in recognition of eco-tourism as a tool for supporting sustainable development of the Heart of Borneo. The launching ceremony was officiated by Fredrick Ellia Gugkang, representing the Minister of Tourism Republic of Indonesia at Gedung Pemerintah Kalimantan Utara, Tarakan Indonesia and was attended by the delegates of the 11th HoB Trilateral Meeting.
The campaign was the result from the decision of the 10th HoB Trilateral Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on September 5 to 7, 2016 in adopting the recommendations by the HoB Green Ecotourism Workshop in Tanjung Selor, North Kalimantan, Indonesia on August 2 and 3, 2016. The campaign is seen as an important step to increase the visibility of HoB and to promote the rich, natural and cultural heritage of the HoB to tour operators, agencies, visitors and the general public.
In his remarks during the launching ceremony, Azimuddin announced that Malaysia is ready for the ‘Visit Heart of Borneo’ and stated that the campaign is indeed very timely to promote the potential of HoB areas, to be promoted as ecotourism sites. He also added that the campaign is in line with the global aspiration as declared by the United Nations General Assembly that ‘Year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development,’ recalling the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Malaysia through the Sabah Forestry Department and Forest Department Sarawak has identified several top eco-tourism sites in Sabah and Sarawak to be promoted in the campaign. These sites are chosen based on their uniqueness in promoting the Heart of Borneo Initiative within the states, especially in promoting conservation, sustainable natural resources management and also community engagements. The respective states will also have further deliberations with their relevant stakeholders, on the best way of implementing the campaign. In addition to that, both Sabah and Sarawak will also have its special launching of the programme in the respective states in due course.
An official logo of the Visit HoB Year 2018 campaign was also launched during the launching ceremony, which will be used as the official promotional tool for the campaign. The logo consists of a Heart of Borneo area boundary on Borneo Island, surrounded by two abstract images of hornbills and leaves depicting the biodiversity of Borneo Island. The hornbill was chosen in the logo as the species was found in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, and they have become a symbol of cooperative relations among the three countries.
During the launching, Malaysia also performed a cultural show that showcased the traditional dances of Sabah and Sarawak, i.e. the famous Sumazau Dance of Sabah, the graceful Datun Julud of Sarawak, and also a medley of Sabah and Sarawak cultural dances.
The Heart of Borneo (HoB) is the initiative of three countries, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia that share the island of Borneo. The initiative was declared on February 12, 2007, in Bali, Indonesia and has come to its 10th year of implementation. Comprising approximately 30% of the island of Borneo’s land area, more than 22 million hectares of tropical rainforest and the sources of fourteen major rivers and 70% of the water needs, the HoB delivers ecosystem products and services for at least 11 million people.