Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Green Community youth organization from Indonesia along with HSBC Brunei, the GMA Network`s “Born to be Wild” television program in the Philippines, won the first ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity awards presented in a ceremony held in Manila, Philippines, on May 31.

The winners truly exemplify a cadre of champions who will serve as ambassadors of goodwill for biodiversity conservation and advocacy in the ASEAN region, Dr. Makarim Wibisono, executive director of the ASEAN Foundation, said as quoted on the official website of the Jakarta-based ASEAN Foundation here Tuesday.

“The ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity addresses the lack of awareness of ASEAN especially among the youth as well as the dearth of information about biodiversity in the region. We hope our Champions and their commitment to biodiversity conservation will inspire others to give importance and support various efforts in preserving the region`s rich biodiversity,” he said.

The ASEAN Champions of Biodiversity is a recognition program for ongoing projects on biodiversity conservation and advocacy in the ASEAN region.

The program is supported by the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity and supported by the ASEAN Foundation, the European Union, GIZ, the Government of Japan, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, UNESCO and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.

The award is aimed at generating greater leadership, public and media awareness of the problems facing the region`s rich but highly threatened biodiversity and the need for a concerted effort in biodiversity conservation and advocacy, the ASEAN Foundation said.

HSBC Brunei was recognized for being the first corporation to support the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Initiative and for advancing climate change research in the forests of Brunei.

“Born to be Wild” topped the Media Category for effectively bridging the gap between scientists and the public and for going the extra mile in assisting viewers in implementing their own conservation initiatives.

The study group Green Community won for its efforts to introduce young students to conservation at an early age and bringing the results of their biodiversity inventory activities to communities in Semarang, Indonesia.

PTT Public Company Ltd. of Thailand and Chevron Philippines, Inc. won second and third places in the Business Category, while The Brunei Times and the Philippines` BusinessMirror ranked second and third in the Media Category. The second and third spots in the Youth Category were bagged by Sahabat Alam of Indonesia and the Architectural Students` Association of the Philippines – University of the Philippines Diliman Chapter (ASAPhil-UP).

The awarding ceremony and forum followed the launch of the United Nations Decade in Southeast Asia in Malacaang hosted by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, and forms part of the celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2011 and the International Year of Forests.