DENR pushes for policy strengthening against ozone depleting substance HCFC that causes global warming

June 6, 2021

            The government is pushing for the establishment of policies for the use of “low carbon, energy efficient” cold chain system to totally eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons  (HCFC), an ozone depleting substance causing global warming.

            In a project costing $27.5 million, the “Global  Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines” (GPI-FCCP),  DENR is also carrying out a program putting up environment-friendly cold chain facilities.  

            These refrigeration systems for transporting goods for the food industry will no longer use ODS-HCFC.

            Stringent policies are important in providing a stable investment environment for investors in “green” cooling technologies, the DENR said.

            Cold chain covers every produce that needs cooling from the “field to the fork (transport, storage, transformation, packaging).  Policies will involve national standards for flammable refrigerants and revision of energy efficiency standards.

How ozone depleting substances affect the atmosphere; Source- DW

            A project assisted by international funder Global Environment Facility (GEF), the GPI-FCCP includes training of 200 key stakeholders on energy-efficiency and climate-friendly cold chain technologies. 

            There is also a high level training for 50 local engineers, system suppliers and end-users on the use of global innovative cold chain technology.

            Major implementers of the GPI-FCCP are the DENR and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization).   A co-financier is Germany’s international cooperation agency GIZ (Gesselschaft fur Internationanale Zusammenarbeit).    

            According to the DENR, the cold chain project came about as part of the Philippines’ compliance to its commitment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol.  It is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

              The ozone is the earth’s protective layer, absorbing UV light which reduces human’s exposure to harmful (skin cancer and cataract-causing) ultraviolet radiation.

              ODS includes chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbontetrachloride, methy chloroform, hydrobromofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide, and bromochloromethane.

            Refrigeration technologies have come out as top concern to have energy efficiency and low Global Warming Potential (GWP).  It is because refrigerants extensively use  hydrochlorofluorocarbons  (HCFC) that have been found to be ozone-depleting.

            The Montreal Protocol compelled signatory countries to freeze consumption and production of the ODS hydrochloroflouocarbons (HCFCs).  Developing countries should have cut by 100% their HCFC production by 2030.

            Private sector engagement will be crucial in the Philippines’ effort in obtaining knowledge transfer of the most innovative, climate friendly, and energy efficient refrigeration technologies, the DENR said. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan receives forest protection boost as communities engage in sustainable livelihood beekeeping

June 3, 2021

UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental is receiving its needed forest protection boost as its communities have engaged in beekeeping of native “kiyot,” generating sustainable income while protecting the environment.

            With a more dependable livelihood and income, residents of the buffer zone of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) are turning to become strong forest guards who help conserve forests and biodiversity of the protected site.

            The beekeeping livelihood program is a special project called Beekeeping as Bio-diversity-Friendly Community-Based Enterprise in Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary and Expansion Areas of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to involve the community in forest conservation.  This is even as Mt. Hamiguitan is a wildlife sanctuary recognized by UNESCO to have a universal value. It is home to globally threatened flora and fauna eight of which are found only Mt. Hamiguitan itself.

            It is the sixth in the Philippines to be accorded recognition as a World Heritage Site.

            “Raising native bees will not only generate alternative source of livelihood, but it is also considered significant in improving the diversity and productivity of the surrounding vegetation of Mt. Hamiguitan through an improved pollination process offered by the bees,” said Clint Michael Cleofe, Provincial Environment & Natural Resources Office management specialist.

            Fortunately, the native bee variety in San Isidro town, the kiyot, is known to be stingless.  That apparently makes it easier to harvest the kiyot honey.

            The beekeeping livelihood program is supported by the local government of San Isidro municipality.  The University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Tagum campus also has a development plan for the beekeeping livelihood program.

              DENR’s assistance to the beekeeping livelihood project includes a Capacity Development Plan or training of people’s organizations (POs) on beekeeping and business management.

            Beekeeping materials and equipment and start-up kits are provided to the POs.  Assistance in product development and product marketing area also extended to the POs.

              As there is a high demand for bee products—honey and propolis– the project is expected to generate satisfactory income for the community.#

   There is a separate memorandum of agreement between DENR and the local government of the Governor Generoso municipality (also host community of MHRWS) for another livelihood program—sustainable almaciga resin.

   PO  to be benefited is the Lumad Almaciga Tappers of Governor Generoso (LATAGG).  Monthly household income generated from almaciga resin production is P6,000 to P8,000.  At the same time, LATAGG members become volunteer forest patrollers in Mt. Hamiguitan.

   While generally pronounced to have “good” state of protection, Mt. Hamiguitan is being strictly protected as it faces threats of conversion of land for agriculture.  There are also mining threats outside the site. 

   Potential risks from climate change and increasing tourism are now being addressed by DENR.

   Mt. Hamiguitan is known for its highly diverse mountain ecosystem that makes it home to a number of endemic species known only in Mindanao and particularly found only in Mt. Hamiguitan.

   “The combination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the boundaries of the property and the large number of species inhabiting each makes the MHRWS home to a total of 1,380 species with 341 Philippine endemics,” according to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

   That includes critically endangered species — the iconic Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).  Also considered endangered are the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), the trees Shorea polysperma, Shorea astylosa and the  orchid Paphiopedilum adductum.

   “Its high level of endemicity is well exemplified by the proportion of its amphibian (75% endemic) and reptile (84% endemic) species.  The fragile tropical ‘bonsai’ forest that crowns the MHRWS epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions,” UNESCO said.

   Scientists believe there may be more undiscovered unique flora and fauna in the mountain range.

   “In the lower elevations the agro-ecosystem and remnants of dipterocarp forests house some 246 plant species including significant numbers of endemics such as the globally threatened dipterocarps of the genus Shorea. The dipterocarp forest ecosystem is characterized by the presence of large trees and is home to 418 plant and 146 animal species, which include threatened species such as the Mindanao Bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba crinigera) and Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis).”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR puts up water conservation policies in Mt Makiling Forest Reserve with sustainability threats from resorts operations

DENR puts up water conservation policies in Mt Makiling Forest Reserve with sustainability threats from resorts operations

May 30, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is putting up water conservation policies in the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR) as the water-intensive resorts in the protected area threaten water resource sustainability in Laguna.

            DENR is putting up water conservation policies in the local government units (LGU) of Los Banos and Calamba City to address the unseen threat in water resources that can arise from the influx of tourists visiting the increasing number of resorts.

Water-intensive resorts flourish in Laguna while threatening the aquifers of the Mt. Makiling watershed

            DENR is now employing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze the spatial distribution of resorts in Los Banos and Calamba City.  Its study also involves formulation of a mechanism by which tourists could be charged with a fee for using the environmental resources of Laguna.

            “The project employs economic methods to analyze the willingness-to-pay of visitors for improved water conservation practices by resorts and the conservation of MMFR to secure water services,” said            DENR.

            The government has been concerned that the number of resorts in Los Baños has increased over the last seven years from 42 to 171 in Los Banos. In Calamba City, the number of resorts has increased from 466 to 855 from 2014 to 2020.

            The watershed of Mount Makiling is important in supporting the domestic, agricultural, and industrial water requirements of Los Baños and Calamba City.

            Mt. Makiling is a dormant volcano.  This is the reason why its underground water gives rise to hot springs.  Thus, it encouraged the establishment of numerous resorts with the natural hot spring water in swimming pools and baths.

            While the resorts operations have generated higher income for operators and gave livelihood opportunities for other tourism-oriented (restaurants, food stalls, convenience stores), this has brought about negative side effects, such as that of the use of water resources by the industry.

               DENR’s project called “Economics, Policies and Institutions of Groundwater Use by Resorts in Los Baños and Calamba, Laguna” is hoped to ensure sustainable water operations despite continuing existence of the tourism businesses.             “Majority of visitor respondents have expressed their willingness to pay for the conservation of groundwater resource from Mount Makiling. They want to contribute to the conservation efforts.  They agreed that current practices are wasteful because groundwater is indeed limited,” said DENR. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR carries out $150 million project for enhanced ecosystems through USAID bilateral assistance fund

May 27, 2021

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is carrying out a $150 million (P7.25 billion) project for enhanced ecosystems through a bilateral assistance fund from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

   As the United States government marks this year its 75th year of bilateral relations with the Philippines, it has further committed to a project to help the country in sustainable development.

   The bilateral assistance agreement was signed last February by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and USAID.

   “The agreement aims to protect ecosystems, promote the sustainable use of natural resources, and build the capacity of people, communities and institutions to withstand, cope and recover from shocks and stresses so that people and ecosystems thrive,” said Sean Callahan, Acting Mission Director of USAID. 

   Two of the projects covered by the bilateral agreement are SIBOL and Safe Water Project (SWP). SIBOL or Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes is a five-year, P1.1 billion ($22 million) project.

   The project supports DENR in improving natural resource governance, stimulating public and private sector investments in conservation, and reducing environmental crime, leading to greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth. The project also includes provision for communities’ access to clean water and sanitation services.

   SIBOL works with the Biodiversity Management Bureau, Forest Management Bureau, and DENR’s field offices in Central Luzon (Region 3), Southern Luzon (Region 4B) and the CARAGA Administrative Region (Region 13). 

   SIBOL’s implementation is led by RTI International, a U.S.-based non-profit organization.  It has three decades of experience providing technical assistance, institutional strengthening, programmatic support, and research in a variety of sectors in the Philippines.
   Meanwhile, SWP is a five-year worth P870 million ($18.4 million).  It works to improve water security for vulnerable and underserved communities. 

   Working with both the national and local governments, SWP supports initiatives to increase access to resilient water supply and sanitation services.  It aims to improve the sustainable management of water resources that enable long-term water provisioning.

   Also part of SWP’s mandate is to strengthen the governance and regulation of the water sector. 

   SWP’s implementation is coordinated with NEDA and with multiple sections of the DENR.  These include the Forest Management Bureau, DENR field offices in Southern Luzon (Region 4B), Western Visayas (Region 6), and SOCCSKSARGEN. It also works with the National Water Resources Board.  

   The project is being implemented by the DAI Global LLC which carries a long history of working in the Philippine water sector. 

   SWP is also coordinated with local organizations, Orient Integrated Development Consultants, Inc. (OIDCI), Lutheran World Relief, Inc. (LWR), CEST, Inc., Geosciences Foundation Inc., and the Manila Observatory.  

“The long history of the partnership between DENR and USAID has been fruitful.  We have achieved much in creating a more secure environment that sustains both ecological integrity and human development. It has led to the improved management of protected areas and strengthened environmental law enforcement. It has increased public awareness about the challenges of wildlife trafficking and improved water security through integrated watershed management, among others,” said Sean Callahan, Acting Mission Director of USAID. 

   “As USAID and the Philippines mark the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations this year, I am truly optimistic that these memorandum of understanding will help us achieve many more milestones together as we work toward our shared goal of inclusive and resilient growth for all Filipinos,” he added

   Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu looks forward to the partnership.

   “We always welcome effective collaboration to continue the advancement and sustainability of how we protect our ecosystem and natural resources,” he said.

   “USAID has always been a consistent and effective ally for the DENR for the past years. They have supported us for years in creating sustainable models which guided us in increasing and strengthening our policies for the management of our ecosystems. That is why we are looking forward to more meaningful years with USAID in advancing our shared goals of environmental sustainability and improving the lives of the Filipino communities.”    Since 2014, USAID has provided more than P5 billion ($100 million) in assistance to the Philippine government in conserving the country’s biodiversity and protecting its landscapes and seascapes. 

DENR strengthens five seaports’ seizure capability for illegal wildlife trade

May 25, 2021

The government is strengthening five seaports’ capability to seize illegally traded wildlife in light of unabated cases of wildlife smuggling that threatens biodiversity, consequently the nation’s economic resources.

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-attached Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) has entered in a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT) beginning with the country’s five major seaports.

    The seaports in the south include the Lipata Port in Surigao del Norte, and Nasipit Port in Agusan del Norte. In Metro Manila, these are the ports of Manila —  Manila North Harbor,  Manila South Harbor , and Manila International Container Terminal.

Illegal wildlife trade renders to extinction endangered species. Credit-ADB

   DENR-BMB and PPA have started evaluating emergency responses to wildlife smuggling of these five seaports. Data showed that over the last 10 years (2010 to 2020), there have been 17 cases of wildlife confiscations in ports overseen by the PPA. 

   The MOA involves partnership to combat IWT in all of the 337 PPA-registered seaports nationwide. 

   According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), IWT is estimated to have a value of $23 billion per year.  This makes it the fourth “largest transnational crime” in the world after narcotics, human trafficking, and arms.

Philippines’ most illegally traded species. Credit-ADB

   With the assistance of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-6) through the project

“Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines,” DENR-BMB is implementing a three-year project on capability building against IWT.  It is co-implemented with the  Asian Development Bank.

   “It aims to combat environmental organized crime in the Philippines through legal and

institutional reforms, capacity building in the full law enforcement chain, and reduction of demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife parts and derivatives,” DENR said.

   Earlier assessment of the five seaports indicated flaws that have to be addressed in order to fight wildlife trafficking. The evaluation found out that there is an absence of a “single window environment for Electronic Clearance System in the ports. 

    There has also been a lack of intelligence and intelligence access on a regional scale that may help the early detection and interception of wildlife contrabands entering the port.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

 These problems also have to be addressed so that government will be able to stop or reduce cases of IWT:

1.       Lack of risk profiling system complemented with wildlife crime risk indicators;

2.       Absence of a K9 Unit able to detect wildlife, by-products, and derivatives

3.       Absence  of established standard operating procedures for inspection and seizure of wildlife and other illicit goods;

4.       Absence of a protocol on post seizure investigation of cases;

5.       ABsence of an information exchange system with local ports (for PPA) but under-maximized communication exchange with international institutions;

6.       Absence of an established system to maintain employees’ integrity and professional standards and to deter corrupt practices; and,

7.       Absence participation of industry operators, and need for greater cooperation and support from other supply chains.

Highly-toxic mercury use in mining to be eliminated in Philippines’ compliance with Minamata Convention

May 23, 2021

  The government is strengthening regulations against the use of highly toxic

mercury in mining in compliance with the Minamata Convention that protects the

environment and human health from mercury emissions reaching to 1,000 tons yearly.

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is

implementing a program that establishes national policies ensuring elimination of

mercury’s use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM).

      DENR said it is implementing the “Global Opportunities for Long-term

Development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector (GOLD-ASGM)” project

under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and with the United Nations Environment

Program (UNEP). 

Mercury is vaporized to extract gold, creating toxicity in human when inhaled

   Grant amount for both countries totals to P585 million until 2024.  The Philippine

government through DENR has a counterpart funding of P96 million.

   The project will help small miners shift to legal mining that uses mercury-free

technology. It will empower small miners and help raise their income and livelihood by

producing higher value-added products such as jewelry from mere raw gold ore.

   “Meaningful economic incentives as well as adequate community development

strategies are needed to fully aid mining communities with their formalization efforts,”

said the DENR.

    The project also aims to address issues of ASGM like hazardous working

conditions, child labor, and gender gaps through capacity building and assistance to

government agencies in developing relevant policies, DENR said.

   The Philippines’s ASGM sector takes up a critical role in the economy, directly

employing 500,000 small miners and indirectly providing livelihood to two million people.

   According to the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau, there are 38 ASGM

operators in the Caraga region while 78 exist in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

   While mostly operating illegally, the ASGM sector accounts for 70% of the

country’s gold production.  The Philippines itself is one of world’s top 20 gold producers.

     DENR said the project sites for the gold project in the Philippines are Mountain

Province and Camarines Norte. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Private investors eyed for $27.5 million global project on cold chain that boosts pharma, food safety, food security

April 24, 2021

A multilateral cold chain project is looking for private sector investors in a “low carbon” cold chain system that involves a Covid 19 vaccination storage facility and a “hub” of  facilities that will boost Philippines’ food-pharmaceutical safety and food security.

   A project totally costing $27.5 million, the “Global  Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines” (GPI-FCCP) is putting up cold chain facilities critical to the country’s food industry. 

   Cold chain has also now become critical to the health of the country’s population in the advent of Covid 19 pandemic .

   A project led by international funder Global Environment Facility (GEF),  the GPI-FCCP primarily involves  establishment of policies advocating use of low carbon and energy-efficient refrigeration facilities for the food system.   

   Stringent policies are important in providing a stable investment environment for investors in “green” cooling technologies.

   Cold chain covers every produce that needs cooling from the “field to the fork (transport, storage, transformation, packaging).

   Policies will involve national standards for flammable refrigerants and revision of energy efficiency standards.

   A total of 200 key stakeholders is targeted to be trained on energy-efficiency and climate-friendly cold chain technologies. 

   There is also a high level training for 50 local engineers, system suppliers and end-users on the use of global innovative cold chain technology.

   Major implementors of the GPI-FCCP are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) .

   A co-financier is Germany’s international cooperation agency GIZ (Gesselschaft fur Internationanale Zusammenarbeit).    

   GIZ now looks for private sector companies as part of distributing Covid 19 vaccines in the Philippines.

   “Vaccine cold chains have become a  new and urgent priority in the Philippines. The project also provides an opportunity to help develop integrated cold-chain strategies that build on the existing food cold chain system – ensuring better health and a reliable food supply in the Philippines,” reported the DENR.

Cold chain “hub”

   The global cold chain project is also putting up the Cold Chain Innovation Hub (CCIH).  It will be the project’s “central ecosystem of technical resources, training, knowledge sharing and stakeholder collaboration. “

   The CCIH will guarantee that ”knowledge within the field of energy efficiency, low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigeration technologies, and monitoring of the cold chain will be kept in the Philippines,” according to the GEF.  That is even after project closure in 2022.

The Cold Chain; Source- DGrid Energy

Montreal Protocol

    The cold chain project came about as part of the Philippines’ commitment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol.  It is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

   The ozone is the earth’s protective layer, absorbing UV light which reduces human’s exposure to harmful (skin cancer and cataract-causing) ultraviolet radiation.

   ODS includes chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbontetrachloride, methy chloroform, hydrobromofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide, and bromochloromethane.

   Refrigeration technologies have come out as top concern to have energy efficiency and low Global Warming Potential (GWP).  It is because refrigerants extensively use  hydrochlorofluorocarbons  (HCFC) that have been found to be ozone-depleting.

   The Montreal Protocol compelled signatory countries to freeze consumption and production of the ODS hydrochloroflouocarbons (HCFCs).  Developing countries should have cut by 100% their HCFC production by  2030.

   Very potent greenhouse gases, HCFCs are used as “refrigerants,   solvents, blowing agents for plastic foam manufacture, and fire extinguishers.”

   Private sector engagement will be crucial in the Philippines’ effort in obtaining knowledge transfer of the most innovative, climate friendly, and energy efficient refrigeration technologies.

How ozone depleting substances affect the atmosphere; Source- DW

Financiers

   Financiers of the GPI-FCCP  include Asian Development Bank, $10 million loan; DENR, $190,000; UNIDO, $199,500; Land Bank, $7 million; Development Bank of the Philippines, $5 million; Shecco, $3 million in supplies; and GIZ, $100,000.

   The vaccine initiative will be financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).  BMZ supports private sector initiatives that “mitigate the economic as well as the health-related impact of the corona pandemic” of countries like the Philippines

   BMZ disclosed that projects related to the Covid 19 vaccine cold chain requirements will receive up to €2,000,000 (US$2,430,710) of funding.  This has a government cost counterpart of 50%.

Emission reduction targets

   The GPI-FCCP targets to cut emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) by up to 5,722 metric tons (MT) directly. It also aims to cut CO2 emission indirectly by up to 479,815 MT.

   The project will also have a forecast of Philippines’ growth in energy demand  and its climate impact.

    Emission of carbon due to refrigerants is estimated to contribute to 20% of total carbon emission. Moreover, energy consumption accounts for the highest 80% in carbon emissions.

   “Worldwide it is estimated that 40% of all foods require refrigeration, and 15% of  electricity consumed is used for refrigeration . With the rising concern over climate change, global warming as well as the insecurity in development and fluctuations in energy costs , there is increasing pressure to make significant reductions in carbon emissions and energy use,” GEF said.

Food exports

   Adequate cold chain facilities are critical to the Philippines with its growing population.  Its current capacity of 300,000 MT  in cold chain threatens the quality of food it feeds to its people. With inadequacy, Philippines will also have difficulty sustaining its export/import potential.

   The GEF report indicated the cold chain project will support the country’s increasing agricultural exports  that reached $1.03 billion as of 2016.

   The country’s cold storage sector was earlier projected to have reached a market value of $1.4 billion by 2020.

   “The sector is highly fragmented, with more than 100 players active in the market.  What’s currently lacking is end-to-end, integrated cold chain management to consistently allow all players on the network to connect,” according to the GEF report.

   Poor practices in cold chain operations in countries like the Philippines has led to the “waste of electricity to feed the cold chain, release of powerful greenhouse gases, and post harvest losses.”

   It is estimated that post harvest losses account for 30% of total production.  The absence of a good cold chain is a major reason for this, among others.

   “Lack of proper maintenance and knowledge very often translates into an inadequate management of the life cycle of refrigerant gases. More refrigerant leakage means less efficient equipment and higher emission of high GWP (global warming potential) gases into the atmosphere,” according to a Global Environment Facility (GEF) report.

Network of experts

   The CCIH is so far eyed to be run by any of the following training institutions—De La Salle University Laguna, TESDA Green Technology Center or the University of the pHIlippines Los Banos Post Harvest Horticulture Training and Research Center.

   The CCIH will maintain the network of experts in the project.  It will run cold chain technology exhibition and training center.   (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)