MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) are seeking to strengthen their partnership toward the sustainable management of natural resources in the Asia and Pacific region.

WWF International Director General James Leape visited ADB Headquarters in Manila today to discuss existing programs, as well as explore new collaborations on issues of climate change, natural resource management and use, biodiversity conservation, and water.

Mr. Leape presented ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda with a certificate of appreciation for ADB's work promoting environmental sustainability in the Asia and Pacific region.

"ADB is committed to help our developing member countries face the enormous challenges of environmental and climate change threats," said Nessim Ahmad, Director of ADB's Environment and Safeguards Division. "One way of achieving success in this crucial task is through effective partnerships - such as the one we have with WWF."

During his visit, Mr. Leape also talked about the challenges of sustainable development and WWF's response through various partnerships with governments, private sector and other partners.

In 2001, ADB and WWF signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work on the sustainable management of natural resources in the region through joint projects and programs, information sharing and knowledge management, capacity building and the development of sustainable development policies and strategies.

ADB and WWF are currently partnering to support the development and implementation of a number of regional cooperation programs, including the Coral Triangle Initiative, a regional effort by Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste to preserve and manage the region's coastal and marine resources; the Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program, which aims to integrate environmental considerations into economic sectors and cross-border development; and the Heart of Borneo Initiative, which aims to create a network of protected areas and sustainably managed forests in the biologically-diverse areas bordering Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Under its long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020, ADB will expand its promotion of, and investment in, sound environmental management. Last year, ADB approved a record 26 environmentally sustainable projects, totaling $2.6 billion of financing.

ADB and WWF have held annual consultations since 2002 to review existing programs, discuss new areas of focus, and conduct joint programming. This year's consultation will be held on 21-22 October.