By Charles Bedford, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific region
Asia Pacific is at a crossroads—one that is emblematic of the challenges our interconnected world now faces as populations grow and become more urban. Increasing demands for food, water, housing and energy are placing enormous pressures on the region’s natural resources, including fresh air and water, tropical forests and fisheries—putting species, communities and quality of life at risk.
With seven of the world’s top ten largest cities being in Asia Pacific, the demand for timber, fish and agricultural products, once coming primarily from the U.S. and Europe, is now coming increasingly from the region itself as hundreds of millions of people move from poverty into the middle class.This combination of human development, economic growth and natural diversity is what makes the Asia Pacific a critical region for The Nature Conservancy.
To address these challenges, we’re working with communities, governments and industries to build a more sustainable future for both nature and people. Living here and traveling in the region has been an eye-opening experience. What I appreciate most about Asia Pacific are the voices from the field—Mongolian herders using the Conservancy’s maps to preserve traditional lands and livelihoods, Indonesian villagers who protect the carbon-rich forest for their livelihoods as well as the homes of the last remaining wild orangutan populations in the world, and fishers in Palau and around the Pacific who are testing data-capture techniques that could transform tuna fishing across the Pacific.
Together, the Conservancy and our many partners are making a positive impact on the management of diverse natural systems and the resources they supply. For more than 25 years, the Conservancy has successfully worked with partners across the Asia Pacific to implement science-based, innovative conservation solutions that address some of the biggest global environmental challenges we face. Success in the next 25 years will take all our combined efforts to make this continuing work possible.