Filipino student wins EU-Asean biodiversity video competition | Global News
Youth key to preserving the environment

Filipino student wins EU-Asean biodiversity video competition

/ 10:05 PM June 05, 2018

Philippines’ Sophia Ivana Diano (2nd from right) is one of the top three finalists in the recently held European Union-Asean biodiversity video competition. With her are the other Asean finalists, EU Ambassador to the ASEAN Francisco Fontan, EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar, EU cooperation head Frank Viault and Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in ASEAN program manager Xavier Canton-Lamousse.

SIEM REAP – A student from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas was among the winners in an international video competition sponsored by the European Union.

Ivana Sophia Diano, 18, won alongside Adeline Tiffanie Suwana, 21, from Indonesia; and Krittin Laohawarutchai, 21, from Thailand.


Diano’s video featured a tree-planting activity in Mt. Ipus in Maragondon, Cavite.


“If we cannot help bring back [the] Philippines’ former glory, we should find ways to preserve it,” Diano said, citing the temporary closure of Boracay Island as example.

Emphasizing the role of youth and social media in protecting the environment, she said it is important for young people to use the platform they are most active in.

“We have to find creative ways to harness the power of social media to influence more people,” she said.

The entries of the three winners stood out from among a hundred videos on environmental preservation submitted to the European Union-Association of the Southeast Asian Nation biodiversity video competition.

Held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the awarding ceremony coincided with the celebration of the International Biodiversity and the 40th anniversary of the EU-Asean dialogue last month.

The competition was open to young people aged 18 to 30 from Southeast Asia.

EU Ambassador to the Asean Francisco Fontan said the contest aims to enhance people-to-people connectivity among Asean member states.


Thailand’s Laohawarutchai was declared the grand winner in the competition. The other country finalists were Brunei’s Nur Bazilah, Myanmar’s Nang May Thu Aung, Cambodia’s Saing Kimleng, Laos’ Kannika Sisavong, Malaysia’s Faridah Binti Mohd Saman, Singapore’s Cheo Zi Han and Vietnam’s Phuong Dao.

The winners and finalists were each given a Go Pro camera for their winning videos.

They also participated in a brief dialogue with students from Cambodia and the heads of the European Union Delegation, including Fontan, the EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar, EU cooperation head Frank Viault and Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas in Asean (BCAMP) program manager Xavier Canton-Lamousse.

Conservation ‘starts with love’

For Laohawarutchai, “conservation starts with love.”

In his one-minute video, Dhole, a group of young enthusiasts whose hobbies include taking photos of wild animals, showed how the Asian youth — in their own small, unique voices — can protect the environment using the power of social media.

“We love being with nature. We hope that our work would create a better understanding of nature… so that they would fall in love with nature as much as we do… we believe conservation starts with love,” Laohawarutchai, said in his winning video.

He said the disappearance of forest areas because of “agricultural encroachment” is a major issue in Thailand.

Youth is key

“This event is an interesting platform to share the biodiversity of my home country Indonesia. Video, in itself, is a very versatile form of media,” Suwana said.

For Suwana, previously named 2009 Action for Nature International Young Eco-Hero, young people are key to finding solutions tobiodiversity degradation and climate change.

Suwana, who founded the environmental group Mahabat Salam (Friends of Nature), started protecting the environment at age 11 by organizing students to plant coral reefs, engage in fish breeding and turtle protection, plant mangrove trees, join environmental cleanups and other educational activities.

She said rising sea levels and global temperature and endangered animals like rhinocerous, orangutans and the Sumatra tigers are among the environmental problems in Indonesia.

In Brunei, Bazilah said habitat loss is a major problem as wild animals like pangolins and slow loris are being taken by people as pets.

“They are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but they are not protected by Brunei’s law yet,” she said.

For Vietnam’s Dao, a member of Education for Nature-Vietnam, an NGO against wildlife crime, youth volunteers are very helpful in their advocacy.

“We cannot monitor wildlife crimes in (Vietnam) without the help of volunteers,” he said.

Dao said local beliefs such as benefits of consuming certain animal products such as pangolin scales, rhino horns, tiger bones and bear bile drive the demand for wild animals and consequently lead to poaching.


The contest organizers said that Laohawarutchai, as the grand winner, will get two tickets plus accommodation to any of the three heritage parks in Southeast Asia: Mt. Hibok Hibok in the Philippines; Mt. Kota Kinabalu and Mt. Bulung Bulu in Malaysia; and Mt. Khaoyay National Park in Thailand.

In an interview after the event, he said he also wished to go to the Komodo National Park in Indonesia, a UNESCO heritage park, to see the big lizard Komodo dragon. He said as it makes him happy to see animals in their natural habitats.

“Today we would like to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the environment to ensure [that] future generations will continue to enjoy the biodiversity of our planet,” said Fontan.

“My Nature My Hero” ambassadors Nicholas Saputra, Mario Maurer, and Solenn Heussaff will do the voice overs for the selected videos.

Heritage parks

Viault noted that the Asean region encompasses four of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and is home to three mega-diverse nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In 2017, the EU funded the first EU-Asean development cooperation program focusing on BCAMP, which aims to contribute to global sustainability by promoting the conservation and sustainable management of diversity in the region.

With 10 million euros in funding, the five-year program is implemented by the Asean Centre for Biodiversity in Los Banos, Laguna. It aims to enhance the conservation of biodiversity and the effective management of protected areas in the region, which include over 40 Asean heritage parks, according to ACB executive director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim.

Dr. Vong Sok, Head of Asean secretariat’s environment division, who spoke in behalf of Asean secretary general Dato Lim Jock Hoi, said the video competition is a core component of the EU-Asean partnership.

EU study

During the ceremony, the EU also launched its first report, “Larger than Tigers Inputs for a Strategic Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in Asia,” which showed that there are 6,926 protected areas in the 25 Asian countries covered by the study.

In the Philippines, the important protected areas include the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Coron Islands, El NIdo-Taytay Managre Resource Protected area, Malampaya Sound, St. Paul’s Subterranean River National Park, the Agusan Marsh, the Mt. Hamuguitan Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park, and the Mt. Guiting-Guiting National Park.

The EU said the Philippines and Papua Guinea have “relatively progressive” protected areas (PA) arrangements.

The Philippines has the most comprehensive regulations for PA covering new areas, indigenous rights, and the establishment of multi-stakeholder management boards, the study added. /ee

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TAGS: De La Salle University, EU-Asean biodiversity video competition, European Union, Filipino student, Ivana Sophia Idano
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