Press Releases

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has congratulated the province of Albay on being named a biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Paje said the designation gives due recognition to the province’s commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

“Albay’s recognition as a UNESCO biosphere reserve is a tribute to the outstanding efforts of its people as well as its local leaders to live harmoniously with nature, to respect the environment, and to take responsibility for its rich natural resources,” Paje said.

He added: “If every community completely owns up to the care of its ecosystem, then a huge part of our country’s resources is already secured for the future generations of Filipinos.”

Albay’s inclusion in the list of biosphere reserves was announced on March 19 during a two-day meeting in Lima, Peru, following the recommendation of the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) program.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda personally received the award, saying “this award means very much to the people and government of Albay.”

He assured the International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program that Albay will always be a “champion of sustainable development.”

The MAB, set up in the early 1970s, aims to improve the “interaction between people and their natural environment on a global scale.

Biosphere reserves are internationally recognized as models of sustainable development, which provide “living observatories” for the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Albay is the third biosphere reserve in the Philippines. The first was Puerto Galera, which was declared in 1977, followed by Palawan in 1990.

There are a total of 669 biosphere reserves found in 120 countries around the world as of 2015.

Salcedo said he had increased Albay’s terrestrial and marine buffer zones from 35,000 hectares to over 131,000 hectares to enhance the conservation of its biodiversity and natural resources, and protective measures for the spawning grounds of sea turtles have been strengthened and put in place.

Albay is blessed with various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, vast biodiversity, including endangered sea turtles and whale sharks, and is home to the world-renowned Mayon Volcano.###

The management of the country’s over 200 protected areas (PAs) – ranging from large natural parks, landscapes and seascapes, to wildlife and marine life sanctuaries – has enjoyed significant gains with strong support from the Aquino administration, according to Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

“The support provided by the present administration for PA management has been exponential, not only in terms of budget allocation but in legislation and strategies to enhance conservation and development,” Paje said.

According to the environment chief, such support could not be discounted given the immense role of PAs in providing services that address pressing challenges such as food and water security, health and well-being, disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation.

Paje, however, said several challenges remain in the management of conservation areas. Among these are the inclusion of PA management in the planning and budgeting of local government units (LGUs); the scaled-up development of management capacities including financing; and decision-making that are based on science.

He cited how the budget allocation increased from P100 to P600 million in 2014 for the management of 240 PAs spanning 5.4 million hectares nationwide.

Allocations for coastal and marine areas and resources have been increased to improve their resilience, as well as that of coastal communities and marine-dependent livelihoods, to climate change impacts.

The government has also established the Integrated PA Fund (IPAF) Retention Income Account, which retains 75 per cent of revenues generated by PA for use by the PA Management Boards in their rehabilitation and protection efforts. The remainder of the IPAF is remitted to the National Treasury.

Paje likewise cited the DENR’s strong representation in Congress to push for the passage of the Enhanced National Integrated Protected Areas System or ENIPAS Act. The law addresses system-wide issues and adopts the concept of ecosystem-based adaptation to comply with the Philippines’ commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

A record 175 countries had ratified the Agreement in New York and committed to primarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the global temperature at less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The DENR, through its attached agency, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, has already completed the delineation of all PAs. Complementing this is the prioritization of 39 PAs for resource assessment, habitat protection, sustainable financing, and support to the operations of the Protected Area Management Boards.

With the Philippines being party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau has updated the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets from 2016 to 2028.

The 20-point Aichi Biodiversity Targets provides an overarching framework for all member-countries of the United Nations and their partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development. #

It only took five minutes for employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reach the designated “evacuation site” during the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) held on April 21.

For this, officials and members of the DENR Disaster Risk Reduction Management Team (DRRMT), the Knights of Rizal-Disaster Emergency Responders International (KOR-DERIN), and the Quezon City Fire Bureau declared the earthquake drill held at the DENR central office in Quezon City a “success”.

NSED forms part of the periodic disaster response exercises ordered by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, based on the National Disaster Response Plan.

Such drills are executed quarterly to help people understand the impact of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake feared to specifically hit Metro Manila and adjacent provinces.

Administrative Service Director Jesus Enrico Moises Salazar, head of the DRRMT, said the earthquake drill was conducted to ensure the safety and welfare of all DENR workers and guests in times of disaster and other emergencies.

Now on its fourth year, Salazar said the drill “aims to save lives and properties as it becomes a natural response in all, when held regularly.”

Capt. Jose Roberto Tolentino Jr. of KOR-DERIN said the activity was expected to “level up” the earthquake preparedness of the DENR central office and its adjacent offices like the Philippine Information Authority, whose employees joined those of the DENR in the “evacuation site.”

“The drill prevents panic and develops some form of ‘muscle memory’ in a person, to avoid injury during an actual major tremor,” Tolentino said.

Such exercise also helps the responders improve their response plans while determining limitations and improving the capabilities of their equipment, he added.

During the drill, the DRRMT registered 663 personnel successfully evacuated, three “rescued” and “administered to” for minor injuries and ailments, and four determined as “casualties.” #

The commitment was the gist of a covenant signed on Friday at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City on the occasion of Earth Day.

The covenant signing happened on the same day the Paris agreement on climate change was signed by world leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje represented President Benigno Aquino III during the high-level signing of the new global climate accord.

In a statement, Paje described the covenant as a manifestation of the country’s commitment to come up with its national determined contributions (NDC), which outlines climate mitigation and adaptation actions that will be implemented beyond 2020.

Paje said the country’s participation in the signing ceremony in New York was an assurance that the Philippines would continue to work with the U.N. and other countries against global warming “for the benefit of climate vulnerable communities around the world.”

“[With the covenant] we will be making actual deliveries on our intended contributions, transforming them into realities across a wide range of sectors, from energy, industry and transport, to agriculture, waste and forestry,” the environment chief said.

Isagani Serrano, president and country coordinator of Earth Day Network Philippines, said the Paris agreement was only one of those the country had signed to end poverty, reduce inequality and share prosperity while trying to save humanity from climate change catastrophe.

Serrano expressed optimism in finding “game-changing ways to capture and store carbon and give us back clean air.”

“We cannot go on the way we have been doing in the past up till now. We cannot continue with development that degrades the environment and leaves so many behind,” he said.

Around 50 organizations and agencies were represented during the covenant-signing, committing their support to the Paris accord’s goals.

The Paris agreement enjoins parties to minimize the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while actively working towards a lower limit of 1.5 degrees.

To achieve the objective of a 70-percent emission reduction in the country, the covenant encourages different stakeholders to participate in the consultation and formulation processes for the NDC Roadmap.

This will ensure that the roadmap would be guided by principles of sustainable development, low emission development, disaster risk reduction and inclusive growth.

Signatories also commit to pursue policies and prioritize programs and projects that would make ecosystems more resilient and communities more adaptive to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

The Philippines, through the covenant, likewise supports the global effort to plant 7.8 billion trees to serve as carbon sinks. This is also to contribute to the first of five goals of the International Earth Day Movement, which marks its five-year countdown to its 50th anniversary in 2020. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hosting a conference that aims to strengthen efforts toward sustainability of protected areas (PAs) in the country.

The agency will bring together some 200 protected area managers and stakeholders from local government units, indigenous communities and civil society for the conference to be held from April 26 to 28 in Mandaluyong City.

This will be the second time the DENR holds a conference devoted to PA management. The first one took place in Davao City in 2001 when the participants focused on building lessons from past experiences in the field to serve as guide in improving PA management.

For this year, the meeting seeks to discuss new paradigms and good practices, as well as strengthen partnerships for more effective management of species and their habitats within PAs and to improve the livelihoods of rural communities.

The 2nd PA Conference is being organized by the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and will carry the theme, “Sustaining Ecosystems Services and Benefits from Protected Areas.”

The conference is seen as an opportunity to review the implementation of Republic Act No. 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, while emphasizing the role of PAs in providing and sustaining ecosystem services and benefits.

The highlight of the conference is the launching of the “Guidebook to Protected Areas in the Philippines” by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Climate Change Committee.

The confab will be divided into three plenary sessions, with each session having two breakout sessions.

The first plenary session, which will be chaired by BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim and ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Roberto Oliva, will be on harnessing the benefits of PAs. The economic aspects of PAs will be discussed, including sustainable tourism.

The second plenary session will be on enhancing PA governance, with topics on inclusion of PA management in academic curriculum, public-private partnerships, integrating ecosystem management, and initiatives in biodiversity conservation. The session will be chaired by Clarissa Arida of the ACB’s Programme Development and Implementation, and Rodolfo Ferdinand Quicho Jr. of the Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Programme in the Philippines.

Improving advocacy and enforcement in PAs will be the focus of the third plenary session, which will be chaired by Tanggol Kalikasan’s Atty. Maria Paz Luna and Atty. Maria Generosa Mislang. Legal experts will discuss issues and challenges in PA law enforcement, including implementation of rules of procedure for environmental cases.

Since the last conference, PA management in the Philippines has undergone several developments, among which are the country’s commitments to various international agreements; recognition of the increasing role of indigenous and local communities in conservation areas; and climate change adaptation and mitigation. ###