SEAMEO BIOTROP held its 61st Governing Board Meeting in Penang, Malaysia, on 5 – 6 October 2023 and the Regional Workshop on the implementation of Agro-Eco-Edu-Tourism in Southeast Asia for Biodiversity Conservation Education on 6 October 2023. These activities were conducted in collaboration with the Universiti Sains Malaysia.
The governing Board of the Regional Centre of Tropical Biology is the highest policy-making body of the Center. The board serves as the representative of the SEAMEO member countries that have a significant role in determining the center's policy, approving the programs and activities, and evaluating and monitoring the implementation of those programs and activities.
The Governing Board shall have a meeting at least once a year to discuss and make agreements on the significant issues of the Centre. This year's governing board meeting was the first regular governing board meeting held after the revocation of the COVID-19 pandemic status. Seven Governing Board Members and Representatives attended the face-to-face meeting (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand), while two Board Members joined the meeting online (Lao PDR and Singapore). The meeting was also attended by Education and Cultural Attache of the embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Malaysia, representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia, SEAMEO Secretariat, and IPB University. A total of 16 papers were submitted to this year’s meeting.
"This governing board meeting is a significant platform for us to reflect on our past accomplishments, discuss ongoing initiatives, and chart a course for our future endeavors." Stated Dr Zulhamsyah Imran, SEAMEO BIOTROP Director, in his welcome remarks.
The SEAMEO BIOTROP 61st Governing Board Meeting was officially open by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Represented by the Education and Cultural Attache, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Firdaus, SP., M.Si.
Muhammad Firdaus highlighted the resemblance between Indonesia and Malaysia in their wealth of biological diversity in his opening remarks. Both countries are endowed with verdant rainforests, thriving ecosystems, and distinctive wildlife, capturing the interest of scientists and nature enthusiasts around the world.
"The dual significance of this biodiversity richness serves as a source of pride and a shared responsibility, and in recognising the imperative to safeguard and conserve this treasure for the well-being of future generations," he said.
Other than issues on annual programs, human resources, financial and administration, and the process of SEAMEO BIOTROP Directorship, one of the highlighted discussions in the meeting is about the development of the Agro-Eco-Edu-Tourism Program that was initiated by Prof Dr Arif Satria, the Governing Board Member from Indonesia/Rector of IPB University since 2021.
On this connection, the meeting was held vis-a-vis the Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Agro-Eco-Edu-Tourism (AEET) in Southeast Asia for Biodiversity Conservation Education. This workshop will focus on the lessons learned from AEET best practices in Southeast Asian countries and the implementation of SEAMEO BIOTROP AEET adoption in Southeast Asia.
The Agro-Eco-Edu Tourism Program is a form of tourism that combines the landscape (ecosystem) and agriculture-based education as an attraction or destination for tourists and visitors. The program of AEET is designed to be a model for off-campus biodiversity conservation education and as a “showcase” of biodiversity in Southeast Asia.
In 2022, the Centre has developed four prototypes, i.e., Stingless Bee Garden, Sensory and Therapeutic Garden, Smart Hydroponic, Aquatic Garden, and BIOTROP Science and Technology Expo. Those prototypes are documented in the AEET SEAMEO BIOTROP educational module, which explains any necessary information related to the prototypes. The AEET program is also being spread to other institutions, such as students, lecturers, the community, and practitioners. Study analysis on AEET impact is needed for future implementation in Southeast Asia.