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Hyundai iCONs for Biodiversity: Educators for Sustainability

Singapore

 

Vietnam

 

Cambodia

HFI Chairman Richard L. Lee and President Ma. Fe Perez Agudo presented the Hyundai Icon for Biodiversity to Dr. Leo Tan Wee Hin of Singapore (top photo); Dr. Dang Huy Huynh of Viet Nam (second photo); and Sophea Chhin of Cambodia (bottom photo).

 

Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) through its corporate social responsibility arm, HARI Foundation, Inc. (HFI), bestowed the first-ever Hyundai Icon for Biodiversity to four ASEAN scientist/academics. The special citation was given during the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes awards ceremony held August 7, 2017 at the New World Hotel, Manila. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, a recognition program for outstanding work in biodiversity conservation and advocacy in the 10 ASEAN member states, was a highlight of the ASEAN’s 50th foundation day celebration in this year’s host country, the Philippines.

 

HFI honored Cambodia’s Sophea Chhin, Singapore’s Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin, and Vietnam’s Dr. Dang Huy Huynh as dedicated scholar-mentors whose work in research and education have driven public awareness and action in favor of the region’s biodiversity.

 

Dr. Leo Tan Wee Hin, Professorial Fellow and Director for Special Projects of the Faculty of Science of National University of Singapore, is considered an icon in Singapore’s biodiversity community. His outreach program that promotes biodiversity conservation as a way of life in

 

Singapore transcends government and scientific circles, inspiring students to pursue careers in the sciences. “We have only one planet,” he stressed. “Whether Singaporean or part of ASEAN or the world, each one should look after one’s backyard, otherwise there’s no future. Think Global but Act Local and you can change the world.”

 

Dr. Dang Huy Huynh, 84, and a well-loved senior scientist in Viet Nam, is Chairman of ASOEN-Viet Nam and Director General of the Viet Nam Environment Administration. He spearheaded global research programs and knowledge fora that have had profound impact on the development of strategies and legislations to conserve the biodiversity of Viet Nam and the region. On this new award, he humbly remarked, “This is not only for me, but for all biodiversity scientists in Viet Nam and the ASEAN. I hope that in serving the 700 million people of ASEAN, we will be in solidarity for the environment.”

 

Sophea Chhin is an official and researcher at the Ministry of Environment and a biology teacher at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. In 2012, Chhin and his team founded Birds of Cambodia Education and Conservation to encourage bird and wildlife photography, which the group shares through various communication platforms. “We must share information about the forests to people who never had time to appreciate nature,” he explained. “My field courses have helped our students love our forests. This is good, not only for Cambodia, but for ASEAN. Our job is not easy but it will be made easier if more people can become heroes for biodiversity.”

 

Said HFI President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, “Our partnership with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in this landmark search for the ‘defenders of the web of life’ is an important step toward expanding the scope and scale of our advocacy for education in social and environmental sustainability. Together with the ACB, we kick off a new leg in our journey of the heart as the Philippine automotive industry’s champion for biodiversity in the ASEAN region.”

 

Early this year, HFI and ACB signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to strengthen regional efforts at biodiversity conservation.

 

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is also supported by the ASEAN Secretariat, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the European Union (EU). ACB serves as the awards secretariat.