The Philippines launches commitments to biodiversity conservation and protection

22 May 2017 (Quezon City) - The Philippines, led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, launched its commitments to biodiversity conservation and protection at the First National Biodiversity Congress held on 22-24 May 2017.

The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2015-2028 was launched during the Congress, as well as the Philippines Voluntary Commitments to the Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water for the Ocean Conference, and the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program.

The three-day Congress, which also marks the International Day for Biological Diversity, is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). More than 500 representatives from about 180 civil society organizations, local chief executives from local government units, and environmental managers from all over the country came together to share local solutions for biodiversity conservation, including viable models and lessons and good practices in both large territories and small communities.

"The International Day for Biological Diversity offers a timely reminder of the importance of effective management of a country's natural wealth. Few places in the world are as rich in biodiversity as the Philippines: considered as one of 17 mega-biodiverse countries, harboring more diversity of life per hectare than any other country in the world," DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim said.

The PBSAP is the country's blueprint in managing its natural wealth and was developed in close consultation with various sectors to ensure that it reflects and responds to the needs of conserving biodiversity and critical ecosystem services at the international, national and local levels. UNDP also With UNDP support, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) has also determined the financing gap of implementing the PBSAP, estimated to be at least Php 334 billion (US$7.4 billion) until 2028 [PhP24 billion annually].

This covers actions on: forest, coastal and marine, inland wetlands, caves and cave systems, protected areas, invasive alien species, agrobiodiversity, access and benefit-sharing and urban biodiversity.

The Philippine Government's Voluntary Commitments to the Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, which will be presented to the Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June, was also be adopted during the Biodiversity Congress. The Ocean Conference aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of the world's oceans.

The DENR also launched the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP), a 12-year (2017-2028) national program which aims to comprehensively manage, address and effectively reduce the drivers and threats of degradation of the coastal and marine ecosystems to achieve and promote sustainability of ecosystem services, food security and climate change resiliency.

The Biodiversity Congress will help formulate a road map that will expand and deepen the participation of civil society organisations in designing and implementing programs to be funded by the Global Environment Facility, the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. The Philippines has received international support for its environmental protection programs through the GEF).

The winners of the Selfie for Biodiversity 2017 photo contest, an annual competition mounted by the DENR-BMB together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, will also be announced during the Congress. With this year's theme being "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism", the contest challenged everyone to capture scenes or efforts to sustain biodiversity and highlight how biodiversity is connected to sustainable tourism. The winner won a roundtrip airfare and accommodation for two to any of the beautiful biodiversity areas in the Philippines.

Plenary speakers at the First National Biodiversity Congress include: Senator Cynthia A. Villar, DENR Undersecretary for Climate Change Service Ms. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, who also serves as the DENR's Operational Focal Point for GEF, and DENR-BMB Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim.

The First National Biodiversity Congress is co-convened by the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Project, Biodiversity Partnerships Project, Foundation for the Philippine Environment, Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Philippine Indigenous Communities Conservation Areas (ICCA) project, Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet), Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, GEF UNDP Small Grants Programme, SMARTSeas PH, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID Protect Wildlife, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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