Philippines signs Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration in support of regional cooperation on coastal resilience on climate change

January 10, 2022

The Philippines has signed the Preah Sihanouk Ministerial Declaration in support of regional cooperation on coastal resilience to climate change programs and of PEMSEA 2030 which will address marine plastic pollution and foster the Blue Economy.

   Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu signed the ministerial declaration during the Seventh Ministerial Forum of the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2021.

   “Being the most vulnerable region in the world to climate change, we need to enhance strategic partnerships under the existing mechanism which PEMSEA provides,” Cimatu said. PEMSEA stands for the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

   The Philippines also reiterates its commitment to the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia 2022 to 2027.

   Cimatu said the need for regional cooperation in coastal management has intensified even in light of the Covid 19 pandemic along with the challenges of climate change.

   He said the Covid 19 pandemic and climate risks have been adversely affecting the Philippine economy.  These have huge negative impact national revenue, people’s livelihood, and the budget for environmental protection.

   The Philippines lost in 2020 $8 billion in tourism revenue including loss due to closure of beach resorts and Marine Protected Areas  and may continue to lose 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) due to climate-associated risks.

   “These have exacerbated the funding gap on marine environmental protection,” Cimatu said at the East Asia Seas (EAS) Congress 2021.

   PEMSEA 2030 is a decade program of collaboration in South East Asia for reducing marine plastic pollution, enhancing management of Marine Protected Area Network (MPAN), and adopting the SDS-SEA.

   The Philippines, Cimatu recalled, asserted before the  26th Conference of Parties (COP) that financing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects need three types of funding support. 

   These are grants, investments by private businesses in climate-ready technologies, and subsidies for renewable energy.

   Investments in climate-friendly systems are a necessity.  Or much more will be lost in national revenue because destruction of the environment destroys natural resources that are a source of income, jobs, and livelihood.

   “Climate change exacerbates the current pressures that our coral reefs are experiencing.  Based on a study, the Philippines is estimated to lose 6% of its gross domestic product every year until 2100 if it disregards he risks associated with climate change,” he said.

   The application of “blended protection,”  the protection of both land and sea (rivers), and environmental protection through “adaptive management” will be done in the Philippines.    

    This DENR aims to do in order to protect biodiversity.   It includes imposition of a ban on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF).

   It also involves both the protection of river ecosystems and establishment of natural infrastructure (fortress, fence).  Both will support “human social, cultural, and economic needs” (according to the the Stockholm International Water Institute’s exposition on blended protection).

   Cimatu said the government is gratified that the famous Boracay beach has bounced back in attracting tourists. This is despite its closure for six months in order for government to set up sewage treatment facilities and water improvement measures.

   “The renewed image of Boracay worldwide now provides the local government and communities with sustained tourism and livelihood,” he said.

   Likewise, despite the seemingly insurmountable task of cleaning the Manila Bay, DENR has started pursuing its rehabilitation.  This cleanup includes cleanup of the 16 major rivers and 14 river outfalls that drain into Manila Bay’s shores.

   “Massive cleanup and dredging of esteros, construction of solar-powered sewage treatment plants, relocation of informal settlers, and beach nourishment of the baywalk are continuously being undertaken,” he said.

   “Significant reductions in fecal coliform counts were recorded at several monitoring stations in 2020.”

   Cimatu said generating income through the “Blue Economy” has become imperative to support protection of  coastal and marine habitats. Blue economy  is the concept of good stewardship of ocean and its resources.

   “To promote the Blue Economy, the Philippines continues to support sustainable tourism where we ensure the protection of coastal and marine habitats, resources and water quality as well as promote viable livelihood for coastal communities.”

   To promote the Blue Economy also means that the country will engage in sustainable fisheries through multi-species aquaculture and supplemental livelihood for fishers.  It is supporting traceability for sustainable tuna fisheries.

   “The country further invests in more green ports using renewable energy, solar panel lighting, and the establishment of shore reception facilities,” he said.

   Conservation of forests and terrestrial ecosystems to eliminate land-based pollution has to continue as land pollution also finds its way to oceans.

   The Philippines will also pursue emerging Blue Economy industries such as marine renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and green shipbuilding. 

   In relation to this, it will produce the National State of Oceans and Coasts Report.   It reports East Asian Seas’ progress in promoting sustainable and inclusive ocean economy and the nations’ ocean assets.

   The Integrated Coastal Management Act supports Philippines’ sustainable development of coastal and related ecosystems, food security, poverty reduction, and elimination of circumstances that makes the country vulnerable to climate change impacts.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR averts climate-vulnerability in flooding-prone Ilog Hilabangan (Negros), Tagum Libuganon (Davao Region), “ecosystem-based” management done

January 7, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is implementing an ecosystem-based management on Ilog-Hilabangan in Negros Isalnd and Tagum-Libuganon in Davao Region (mainly Davao del Norte) in an aim to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.

  DENR and the Deutsche Geselschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) signed a technical cooperation agreement for the implementation of the Ecosystem-based Adaptation in River Basins (E2RB) project.

   DENR’s River Basin Control Office (RBCO), implementation partner of the project, initiated activities in 2021 despite challneges due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

   “A Project Management Committee has already been created.  We can start implementation this year after some delays due to Covid 19,” according to RBCO Executive Director Nelson V, Gorospe.

   The Philippine government is receiving a E4.6 million grant from the German government  for the “Ecosystem-based Adaptation in 2 River Basins” . 

Tagum Libuganon River in Davao Region

   It will strengthen the river basins’ ecosystem services, protect their biodiversity, and important, reduce their vulnerability to climate change as destructive flooding have been experienced in the river basins.

   “One of the basis for the choice of the site is perennial flooding,” said Gorospe.

   The German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservatin and Nuclear Safety through the International Climate Initiative has commissioned GIZ to implement the project.

   E2RB is in line with DENR’s program on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction Roadmap 2018-2022. It also aligns with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Philioppine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and enhanced National Greening Program.

   “The effective protection of forests in river basins supports the objectives of the Philippine intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in the area of mitigation through the contribution of forest sector to the planned total greenhouse gas reduction of 70% in 2030,” according to the DENR-GIZ implementation agreement.

Ilog Hilabangan, Negros

   The project intends to have the following impacts:

  •  Secure access to drinking water for 500 households and sufficient supply of water for 3,000 hectares of agricultural land
  • Introduction of financial instruments to support the EbA activities
  • Use of ecosystem services valuation instruments in government policies, plans and monitoring procedures for conservation financing for river basins
  • Reduce vulnerability to climate change  with improved biodiversity protection (from landslide, flood risk in four watersheds in at least 20 municipalities by 10 %.
Flood hazard map, Ilog Hilabangan. Credit- Mahar Lagmay

   Government has also been arresting extinction of important species in the forests in the river basins.     Among the threatened species in the Ilog Hilabangan watershed are hornbills (Penelopides panini and Aceros waldeni), the endangered Philippine spotted deer (Cervus alfredi), and the Philippine warty pig (Sus cebifrons (WCSP 1997). (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Philippines wins Global Wildlife Programme award as it combats illegal wildlife trade, fights Covid 19 traced to wildlife disease transmission

December 14, 2021

The Philippines has recently won the 2021 Knowledge Market “Most Useful Project Resources” award at the recently concluded Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) Annual Conference held virtually last November 30-December 2, 2021.

   The country bested 36 projects in 31 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

   The award was part of a series of mini-competitions that included “Best Knowledge Market Pitch”, “Best Overall Knowledge Share/Need”, “Most Useful Project Resources”, and “Best HowSpace Collaboration.” Team Philippines was also nominated in the “Best Knowledge Market Pitch” category.

   As the prize, the GWP Team will co-design a webinar with Team Philippines.

   With the theme Working Together for Wildlife Conservation, the 2021 GWP Annual Conference focused on successfully collaborating, engaging, and empowering stakeholders to support wildlife conservation and sustainable local livelihoods.

   The Team Philippines’  Knowledge Products and videos may be viewed at Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Biodiversity Management Bureau’s YouTube Channel.

   The Philippines has been aggressively disseminating information on wildlife conservation considering its huge impact in human lives, surprisingly on human health.

   In “Illegal Trade:  A Conduit Through Which Coronavirus Transmitted to Human, Atty Theresa M. Tenazas said pandemics have clearly shown “links to virus reservoir in wildlife populations.”

   “The SARS outbreak in 2002, which infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in 774 deaths in 37 countries, came from a novel betacoronavirus sourced from bats through masked palm civets as the intermediate host before reaching humans,” said Tenazas.

   Tenazas is Wildlife Resources chief of DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).

   “The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012, which infected 2,494 and cost 858 human lives, also came from another coronavirus passing though dromedary camels to humans,” she said.

   Even African Swine Fever (ASF) which has caused huge economic losses to Philippines and many Asian countries is attributed to wild African suids.

   Tenazas noted that the wildlife of the Philippines includes a significant number of endemic animal and plant species. Sixty-seven percent of the 52,177 species in the country are endemic and 418 are listed as threatened by the Rest List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources as of year 2000.

   Hunting for international trade, massive land conversion and climate change have all been wreaking havoc on these wildlife population.

   Today, wildlife trafficking is a transnational organized crime. It is the “fourth largest transnational criminal activity in the world next to drugs trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeit goods trafficking”.

   Disease transmission through animals have long been documented in the Philippines.

  Tenazas noted that evidence of Reston ebolavirus (RESTV) infection was found in domestic pigs and pig workers in the Philippines in 2008-2009.  And bats were suspected to be the possible reservoir of RESTV.

   DENR-BMB is now advocating for stricter penalties for illegal wildlife trade through proposed amendments to Republic Act 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.”

   It has so much to protect as Philippines is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world with its unique endemic flora and fauna species.

   DENR-BMB has been continuously holding workshops as part of controlling illegal wildlife trade (IWT).  It is training people on  IWT expertise including Online Trade Investigation, Financial Investigation on Wildlife Crimes Advance Prosecutor and Enforcement Workshop.     

    In these efforts, it has partnerships with USAID Protect Wildlife Project,  BMB-ADB/GEF (Asian Development Bank-Global Environment Facility) IWT Project and the United States Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, &Training Counter Wildlife Trafficking.

Automation of permits to trade endangered flora and fauna introduced

December 10, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has automated permit issuance for the trading of flora and fauna to enhance global trade transparency in a long term aim to prevent illegal trade and sustainably develop biodiversity.

   In compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Philippines has started issuing permits for the trading of flora and fauna electronically.  It will be through the eCITESPH.com.

   So that information can be accessible anywhere  thereby facilitating trade, the electronic permitting system will be integrated into the Philippines’ national single window system.

   As such,  international trade of threatened animal and plant will easily be monitored and controlled.

   “The system will improve control of international trade in endangered species.  Automation of CITES processes will help enforce regulations, increase transparency, and facilitate processing and electronic data exchange with customs and other agencies,”  according to Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Assistant Director Amelita Ortiz.

   “Electronic information exchange will reduce opportunities for corruption and the use of fraudulent documents in the trading of endangered species,” she said.

   The DENR has been tapping information technology to enhance capability building to produce experts in wildlife trade. 

35,000 species protected under CITES

   Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the addition of two online learning platforms “enables the DENR to uphold its mandate of educating the people about the country’s wildlife resources despite the prevailing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.”

   BMB has introduced the eTraining Course on Basic Wildlife Law Enforcement (BWLE) and the Wildlife Philippines Podcast. 

   This project is  under the DENR-Asian Development Bank/ Global Environment Facility Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines.  

   The project  also involves aid from the United States Department of the Interior International Technical Assistance Program-Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Project 3.

Controlversial ivory trade. Credit– Deutsche Welle

   Modules under this e-learning project includes Wildlife Law Enforcement in the Philippines; Species Commonly involved in Wildlife Crimes; Substantive Laws on Wildlife Resources Protection; Other Crimes against Wildlife; Roles and Responsibilities of Government Agencies in Wildlife Law Enforcement; and Procedural Laws on Wildlife Resources Protection.

   The BWLE training course can be accessed at https:// elearn.adb.org

   More than  38,700 species including  5,900 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants are protected under the CITES, an international treaty signed by Philippines.  It was entered into force in 1975.  Each species is under any of three appendices depending on the degree of of protection they need.

   Each year, the BMB issues more than 1,500 permits on a tedious manual basis.

   But the new automated permit issuance system eases burden of manual work. This is aligned with Republic Act 11032 of 2018 or “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery.” (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Zamboanga City cacao farmers started to supply dried cacao beans to Hershey chocolate’s Kennemer, help sustain Pasonanca Natural Park

November 22, 2021

A 100-strong cacao farmers association in Zamboanga City has started supplying dried cacao beans to Hershey chocolate-associated Kennemer Foods International while being able to contribute to sustainability of the watershed Pasonanca Natural Park.

   The Tolosa Buffer Zone Association (TBZA) and the Salaan Buffer Zone Association (SBZA), with around 50 farmer-member each, have successfully cultivated an estimated 8.2 hectares of cacao land in Zamboanga City. 

   Another market for their cacao beans is the and JAS Agri-ventures Inc.  

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) just conducted in August a five-day training for farmers in Tolosa on cacao farming,

   With an initial 10 to 20 sacks of dried cacao beans supplied to Kennemer Foods per month, this volume is expected to increase next year.

   “By the middle of next year (2022), we will have been ready to harvest from more cacao areas that we helped rehabilitate,” said Dr. Reynaldo C. Navacilla, field manager of Protect Wildlife. 

   Protect Wildlife, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a consortium of agencies helping the watershed natives to learn agriculture and agro-forestry in exchange for destructive wildlife practices.

   DENR’s training on cacao farming was conducted with USAID’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

   Kasanyangan Center for Rural Development & Microfinancing Inc (KCRDMFI) has supplied UF18  and W10 varieties of cacao seedlings to the communities. KCRDMFI also supplied them the fertilizers..

   The  TBZA and SBZA have also been producing their home-made tableas sold at P120 per pack, producing around 50 packs per month.

   The cacao farms of TBZA and SBZA have helped forest communities within the Pasonanca Natural Park to sustain a livelihood for themselves.

   “Some of them used to poach wildlife in the area.  Some of them used to get firewood in the forests in order to produce charcoal sold to bakeries downtown. With a livelihood now, majority of them no longer do these destructive practices,” said Navacilla.

DENR Protect Wildlife project donates cacao processing facility to Pasonanca community

   As to their agforestry and intercropping practices, the farmers are able to help conserve soil, reduce soil erosion, and stabilize slopes in the mountains. Intercropped with cacao are coffee and vegetables.   

   Inday Campaner, protected area superintendent at Pasonanca Natural Park, said DENR’s vision is for the Pasonanca Natural Park to become recognized as an ASEAN Heritage Park.

   ASEAN Heritage Parks are selected based on their  “unique biodiversity and ecosystems, wilderness and outstanding values in scenic, cultural, educational, research, recreational and tourism.”  As such, they become significant sites for conservation.

   Strengthening the conservation program in Pasonanca is important even as new flora and fauna species are being discovered in the protected area.  Among these are the mistletoe and amorphophollus, according to Dr. Dante Oporto, former PENRO (provincial environment and natural resources officer) of Zamboanga Sibugay.

   Partnering with USAID in the effort to help the communities and conserve the environment are Conservation International, DAI Global LLC, Orient Integrated Development Consultants Inc., Conservation International, Rare, and Tanggol Kalikasan.

   However, Lorna Guerrero, president of TBZA, said the farmers’ group needs support in maintenance of the cacao trees to make them bear fruit. They need fertilizers, pesticides, and perhaps sustained technical assistance for best agronomic practices in cacao farming.

   Nevertheless, numerous organizations continue to aid the farmers.  USAID provided the coffee grinder to them.  USAID gave each farmer a set of three tools (including knives and pruning tools) for maintaining their farms.

   The Pasonanca Natural Park is an important watershed that contains the headwaters of the Tumaga River in southern Zamboanga Cordillera Mountain.  It is the source of water for nearly one million residents in Zamboanga City.

   It covers an area of 10,560 hectares of forest reserve and is the largest remaining old growth dipterocarp forest in Zamboanga.

   As part of its conservation, DENR’s Protect Wildlife project with USAID has also introduced financing measures for its protected area management. This is to help fund the P30 million annual cost for watershed and environmental management by the Zamboanga City local government unit (LGU).

DENR-USAID Protect Wildlife project trains farmers in Zamboanga’s Pasonanca protected area on cacao growing

  The LGU hires around 120 forest guards in the protected area.

   Moreover, the project’s livelihood program ensures that the communities in the buffer zone become protectors of the watershed especially during critical times as the Covid 19 pandemic.

   “DENR distributed 5,400 ready-to-plant vegetable and fruit tree seedlings and 1,500 Acacia mangium seedlings to Tolosa and Salaan people’s organizations in the park’s buffer zone as part of the government’s livelihood assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” reported the USAID.

   The Zamboanga City LGU also allocated P1 million yearly for the conservation of the park, being known as habitat of Philippine eagle and the Zamboanga bulbul, flagship species of the park.

   Since the Pasonanca Natural Park is an ecotourism—trekking and adventure – site, the Protect Wildlife Project installed monuments and markers on strict protection and multiple use zones.

   “Park signage was installed to remind nearby communities of prohibited activities in the strict protection zone and to promote agroforestry in buffer zones. Signage was installed along marked boundaries, where the threat of encroachment is high.”

  The Protect Wildlife project also supported the Zamboanga City Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Task Force (ZCAWTTF).  It helps in the enforcement of environmental laws in Zamboanga City.

    Pasonanca Natural Park is home to a reported 96 highly threatened species. These include the Philippine Eagle and  Zamboanga bulbul Mindanao bleeding-heartPhilippine kingfisherPhilippine leafbird and little slaty flycatcher. It is said to be home too to the Mindanao broadbillazure-breasted pittacelestial monarchsouthern silvery kingfisherblue-capped kingfisherspotted imperial pigeongiant scops owlJapanese night heronChinese egretrufous-lored kingfisherPhilippine dwarf kingfisher and Philippine cockatoo(Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

20,000 households in Bohol island gets stable 24-7 green solar energy supply, enjoy sustained economic growth

November 16, 2021

A renewable energy project called “DREAMS” has brought a stable 24-7 solar energy supply to 20,000-household residents of Pamilacan, Baclayon, Bohol– stabilizing economic development in the island.

   Financed under the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Support Facility for Renewable Energy (SF4RE), the solar energy project installed a 39 kWP (kilowatts peak) Photovoltaic (PV) system to the Pamilacan Island Community.

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed support for the solar energy project that will be generating carbon sequestration credits for Bohol Province.

   As the GEF Operational Focal Point in the Philippines is in DENR under the office of Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, DENR is gratified that  an entire 20,000 household community benefits from an energy source that contributes to reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission.

   A switch on event was held last October 28 in Pamilacan Island, Bohol to signal the operation of the Photovoltaic expansion project.

   The WeGen Laudato Si Social Enterprise and Bohol Electric Cooperative (Boheco I) will lead the operation of the PV system. 

   They will also coordinate with the LGU (local government unit) and assist the community partners to have the management capacity as an energy association.

   These are the other community partners of the PV project:

  1.  Pamilacan Solar Credit Cooperative, a women enterprise that collects payment from consumer households at P10 per kilowatthour (kwh).
  2. Department of Education which provides the school space or roof tops for the solar PV installation.

   The operation of the PV system generates financial benefits for the Pamilacan community as the share of the cooperative becomes a trust fund. 

   The GEF SF4RE is a $1 million facility under GEF’s DREAMS (Development of Renewable Energy Application Mainstreaming and Market Sustainability).  SF4RE’s aim is to generate renewable energy investments or financial support for renewable energy.

   The SF4RE also  builds partnerships among local government units, distribution utilities, power generators and community associations to attain energy security and 100% household electrification.

   The PV expansion system in Pamilacan Island is such a milestone since the island enjoyed power for only five hours per day five years ago. 

   Their electricity was powered then by diesel generators of the Boheco 1 through a Genset with 50 kVA (kilovolt-ampere) and 80 kVA for nightime power supply.

Solar energy lights up Pamilacan Island, Bohol. Credit– Cbholganza

   As soon as WeGen installed in 2017 an off grid solar PV system that supplied 24/7 electricity to the households, economic development was immediately observed.

   “Economic growth flourished as the island is an ecotourism area.  Living conditions improved with additional livelihood.  Energy demand increased due to more appliances and equipment for household use and business.”

   However, increased demand was ensued by shortage in supply and system malfunctions.

   Thus, the PV expansion at present is needed to match power demand from additional 357 households.

   “The expanded system would reduce the community usage of the diesel generators.  Thus it is expected that the average cost of energy at the family level will decrease since households will be getting cheaper power during the day.  This will also continue to support the electricity of the school,” reported the Department of Energy (DOE).

    The diesel generators will only supply night-time electricity.

10 Benefits of Photovoltaic Panels. Credit– Pinterest

   The additional installed power capacity may free up the demand on the Boheco Genset.  The Genset may potentially be used to run a small desalination plant which will be under a study.

   The installation will also lead to the compliance of Boheco to the Renewable Portfolio Standards (off-grid) under the Renewable Energy Law. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Philippines haggles for Least Developed Countries to seize bigger chunk of the Global Environment Facility Round 8

The Philippines has supported the interest of Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Development states (SIDs) to seize a significant chunk of the “green” funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which is in its eighth round of funding replenishment.

As the pandemic has hit harder on LDCs and SIDs, the Philippine government, represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the GEF talks, has supported the fund’s System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR).

“On STAR, (Philippines recommends) general support for full flexibility, inclusion of the vulnerability index, and increased allocation for vulnerable countries, LDCs and SIDS,” according to  “GEF Asia Post Replenishment Debrief.”

The world has faced greater challenges these times as global temperature is estimated to be 1.1 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial times.  As the world could cross the 2 degrees Centigrade threshold by 2050, GEF supports funding for projects that achieve global goals against global warming.

The GEF is a trust fund created 30 years ago to enable developing countries to address priorities such as deforestation, desertification, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion.

The funding for green projects is estimated to reach $6.5 billion for this eighth round of replenishment.

For this cycle’s second meeting, Philippines-DENR’s Analiza Rebuelta-Teh  represented the GEF Asia Region being the Asia observer for GEF Asia GEF Operational Focal Point for the Philippines . 

The region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Syria, and Yemen.

With a united stand, the Asian Region has brought to the consciousness of  GEF its support for the vulnerability index as a factor in the prioritization of  GEF funding of projects.

The vulnerability index under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR) is important in determining the real economic issues of countries on the ground. 

This especially applies among LDCs and SIDS which need more assistance especially due to the pandemic.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the country also faces significant challenges in financing projects for  intensified environment protection against the pandemic and climate-related calamities.

“There is a need to mobilize more resources to finance climate action and intensified environmental protection amidst the Covid 19 pandemic.  GEF-8 is an opportunity that the countries should tap for this,” Cimatu said.

GEF-8’s next four-year cycle spans from July 2022 to June 2026.

GEF-8 can balloon to $6.5 billion given an increase in allocation for non grant instruments (NGI) and Small Grants Program (SGP). The allocation is meant to support private sector and civil society participation in NGI and SGP.

The GEF-8 $6.5 billion scenario allocates the biggest chunk for biodiversity, 34%, followed by climate change, 15%; chemicals and wastes, 14%; international waters, 12%; and land degradation, 11%. An allocation of $157 million is being made for SGI and $256 million for SGP.  

The following are among Asia’s other recommendations for GEF’s eighth round:

  1. Intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy
  2.  Inclusion of fragile and conflict afflicted countries in the design and implementation of projects in these countries.
  3. Mobilization of private sector in the environment goals and the role of NGI and blended finance in this effort
  4. Inclusion of indicators on co-benefits of climate adaptation, private sector engagement and sustainability
  5. Criteria setting for participation of all GEF agencies in Integrated Programs; concrete measures to reduce transaction costs; provide analysis of GEF agencies administrative costs; explore and address why MDBs (multilateral development banks) receive less GEF funding.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Philippines leads Asia in GEF-8 fund replenishment talks; GEF 8 ushers developing countries to meet environment goals amid pandemic

November 3, 2021

The Philippines has led the Asia Region in the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-8 Fund Replenishment talks that will usher developing countries to meet international environment goals amid recovery efforts from the pandemic.

   The GEF-8 second global meeting, held virtually from September 29 to October 1, comes at a crucial time as the world is in the COVID crisis recovery stage.

   Yet, global goals have to be attained while in the peak of new challenges on biodiversity, climate change, harmful chemicals, among other focal points of the multilateral trust fund.

   DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the country faces significant challenges in financing projects for  intensified environment protection against the pandemic and climate-related calamities.

   “There is a need to mobilize more resources to finance climate action and intensified environmental protection amidst the Covid 19 pandemic.  GEF-8 is an opportunity that the countries should tap for this,” Cimatu said.

   The Philippines, represented by DENR Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh to the GEF-8 talks, looks forward to sustained funding for its environment projects from this next cycle.

   GEF-8’s next four-year cycle spans from July 2022 to June 2026.

   GEF-8 can balloon to $6.5 billion given an increase in allocation for non grant instruments (NGI) and Small Grants Program (SGP). The allocation is meant to support private sector and civil society participation in NGI and SGP.

   The GEF was created 30 years ago to enable developing countries to address priorities such as deforestation, desertification, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ozone depletion.

   For this cycle’s second meeting, Philippines-DENR’s Teh  represented the GEF Asia Region being the Asia observer for GEF Asia GEF Operational Focal Point for the Philippines . 

   The region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Syria, and Yemen.

   With a united stand, the Asian Region has brought to the consciousness of  GEF its support for the vulnerability index as a factor in the prioritization of  GEF funding of projects.

   The vulnerability index under the System for Transparent Allocation of Resources (STAR)

is important in determining the real economic issues on the ground. 

   This especially applies among Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Development States (SIDSs).

   The Philippines has brought to GEF’s attention the need to increase support for LDCs and SIDSs

   The GEF-8 $6.5 billion scenario allocates the biggest chunk for biodiversity, 34%, followed by climate change, 15%; chemicals and wastes, 14%; international waters, 12%; and land degradation, 11%. An allocation of $157 million is being made for SGI and $256 million for SGP.  

   The following are among Asia’s other recommendations:

1.      Intensified support for countries in their blue (ocean) and green (forestry) recoveries with the pandemic recovery factored in the GEF strategy

2.      Mobilization of private sector in the environment goals and the role of NGI and blended finance in this effort

3.      Inclusion of indicators on co-benefits of climate adaptation, private sector engagement and sustainability

4.      Criteria setting for participation of all GEF agencies in Integrated Programs; concrete measures to reduce transaction costs; provide analysis of GEF agencies administrative costs; explore and address why MDBs (multilateral development banks) receive less GEF funding

   In its most recent funding period, the GEF has provided about $1 billion a year for projects managed by 18 partner agencies alongside national governments.

   Addressing representatives of the GEF’s 184 member-governments, CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez made the case for an ambitious GEF-8 replenishment. 

   Such should match the goals of international environmental negotiations and dial back imminent risks to the world’s forests, landscapes, oceans, rivers, and remaining wild spaces.

   “The GEF is prepared to help deliver the political ambition that is emerging from your countries in the negotiations on biodiversity, chemicals, and climate change,” he said.    

   “Being bold and ambitious in what we aim for in GEF-8 is about impact – it is about results – on the ground and in the water,” Rodriguez said. “Our role is to provide donor countries with great opportunities to make an impact, and to provide recipient countries with great outcomes through well-designed projects that can be scaled.”

   The replenishment negotiation process serves as venue for the donor countries to discuss and negotiate financial allocation sharing for the upcoming GEF replenishment cycle.

    It also provides the opportunity to review GEF performance and evaluate progress, assess future funding needs of the member-countries, and to agree on the GEF financing framework.

   Replenishment meetings are attended by representatives from four clusters of non-donor recipient countries (regions of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia), NGOs (non government organizations) and the private sector.

   World Bank Vice President of Development Finance Akihiko Nishio said the discussions were happening at a moment where it was clear that the world needed to shift from established patterns contributing to environmental harm.

   “GEF-8 comes at a challenging time with unprecedented environmental challenges ahead of us. Now more than ever, business as usual will not work,” Nishio said. “We have an opportunity with this replenishment process for the GEF to take bold, decisive action, and enable developing countries to tackle the world’s considerable environmental threats in a way that generates benefits beyond national borders.”

   Rodriguez said that meeting the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants would require additional funding.

   GEF8 should provide greater outcomes under the GEF focal areas (biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, international waters, and chemicals and wastes) and the newly enhanced integrated programs.

   A key strategy to realize these goals is to intensify efforts to achieve better policy coherence, political consistency, and good governance.  GEF should bring together the government, the civil society, and the private sector leaders which have significant impact in addressing the roots of environmental degradation.

    The Third GEF-8 Replenishment Meeting will be held in February 2022 followed by the Fourth, and last Replenishment Meeting in April-May 2022.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR pushes for creation of mini bamboo forests in Ph’s 1,500 cities, towns; to export bamboo-based lumber

October 22, 2021

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is pushing for the creation of mini “bamboo forests” in all of Philippines’ more than 1,500 cities and municipalities in an aim to create a nature-friendly, export-oriented bamboo lumber industry.

   In a courtesy meeting made by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).Country Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Cimatu said Philippines and UNDP can have a collaboration in the establishment of “community-based mini forest, bamboo plantation, urban forestry” project.

Sturdy and beautiful bamboo. Credit- LLDA

   Secretary Cimatu specifically requested UNDP if it can possibly design assistance for localities (not within DENR areas) to put up bamboo nurseries. All municipalities can have their “mini-forests”.

   Ramachandran made the courtesy call to the DENR secretary together with Edwine Carrie as UNDP’s deputy resident representative and Ms. Floradema Eleazar UNDP Team leader.

   Ramachandran said UNDP has received the same request for support for bamboo plantation establishment during his visits to Albay and Cagayan provinces.

   He also informed the DENR secretary that Vietnam has a thriving bamboo lumber industry– being a major exporter of bamboo to Canada. 

   Despite Vietnam’s reported huge bamboo export to Canada, the Philippines has the same opportunities in bamboo products.  This is considering the humongous $14 to $15 billion global bamboo trade, according to Agrideco Vietnam.

.     Bamboo has both the potential to create a profitable industry and to be a tool for controlling soil erosion and sequestering pollutant carbon dioxide (CO2).

   Bamboo prevents soil erosion to which riverbank communities have been predisposed to danger. 

   A hectare of bamboo retains 30,000 liter of water during rainy season.   Bamboo absorbs huge amount of pollutant CO2. A hectare of bamboo sequesters 12 tons of CO2.

   Bamboo plants are excellent cover for vegetating riverbanks to protect these from erosion.   These have a root system called “rhizomatous” and come in clumps.  This rooting system helps keep soil together.

  Another species used in riverbanks is the Iron bamboo Guada angustifolia .  It also grows on hilly grounds.

   The National Greening Program (NGP) listed bamboo as among the preferred species for reforestation.  Bamboo will help boost supply for food, products (timber, fiber, non-timber forest products), services, and provide aesthetic value to the environment. 

Philippines just like Vietnam can export high quality bamboo products. Credit–Agrideco Vietnam

    Bamboo, kawayan in Filipino, has been considered an excellent substitute for many raw materials in different industries. Its charcoal is used as organic fertilizer. Its tall, erect stems and petiolate leaf blades make for good ornamental plants. The specific specie is Arundia pygmae.  It decors the environment well with bonsai . 

   During UNDP’s courtesy call, possible future collaboration has been discussed on the following:

1.       The Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-SGP);

2.      Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Climate Finance;

3.      Circular Economy, Plastics, and Marine Litter; and

4.      Resiliency and adaptation projects on landslide/flood prone areas, and capacity building of local government units (LGUs) on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR). (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR adopts National Plan of Action for prevention and reduction of marine litter toward “zero waste” Philippine waters by 2040

November 8, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has adopted a National Plan of Action for the prevention and reduction of marine litter (NPOA-ML) toward “zero waste” Philippine waters by 2040.

   DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said the adoption of the NPOA-ML through Memorandum Circular (MC) 2021-10 will serve as guidance to enhance efforts in resource and waste management in the country’s waterways and marine environment. 

   Considering that marine life and biodiversity can only well survive within clean waters, the implementation of MO 2021-10 has become critical for Philippines, being a country of many islands.

   “This initiative is timely as the country has been named by external studies as one of the main sources of plastic leakages into oceans.  It also presents opportunities to revisit current efforts in municipal solid waste management, particularly reduce-reuse-recycle or 3Rs approaches, and eventually help localize the NPOA-ML,” he said.

Innovative solutions to marine litter reduction. Credit- Nature

   Leones took note of MO 2021-10 as the globe celebrates World Habitat Day in the first week of October.  It is a reminder to each citizen and local government units (LGU) of their contribution to waste management, climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals.     

   The World Habitat Day  is supported by the Healthy Oceans and Clean Cities Initiative (HOCCI). It is funded by Japan government to enable local governments to strengthen capacity to  implement  reduction of marine litter. The Philippines heads the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) of the HOCCI.

   “This will bring the focus of marine litter to marine management and biodiversity issues,” Leones said.

Sources of marine litter. Credit- Surfer Today

   He also took note of the ratification of the Philippine Green Jobs Act (Republic Act 10771) which promotes a green economy. It provides “incentives to enterprises that provide green goods and services, green jobs, green technologies and sustainable development.”

   Green jobs refer to employment that restores the environment’s clean quality especially in the agriculture, service, and industry sectors.  Examples are jobs in water conservation, sustainable forestry, biofuels, geothermal energy, environmental remediation, energy audit, recycling, electric vehicles, solar power, and wind energy.

   It is also important that the Philippines adopts programs on climate change mitigation and adaptation since it is one of the world’s climate vulnerable countries, Leones said. Disaster risk reduction is a very important goal for the country.  It is plagued with around 20 tropical cyclones yearly and daily seismic tremors being in the Pacific Ring of Fire. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Tackling marine debris. Credit- National Academies Press