June 30, 2017 | The Farm at Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City.
Mr. Siegfred Flaviano, PEMO of South Cotabato went on with the rationale of the program and provided an overview of the activity.
Mr. Flaviano discussed about how the forum came about and how the different sectors were able to raise support for each other. He also discussed the overall goal of the forum which is to “promote the active participation of business sector to invest in environmental protection, and management in the Province of South Cotabato.”
“promote the active participation of business sector to invest in environmental protection, and management in the Province of South Cotabato.”
Specifically, the targets of the forum are to create awareness and appreciation amongst the business sector on the dynamics and sciences of environmental protection and management, climate change and its importance in the sustainability of their economic and business activities; orient the business sector on the state of environment, specifically the status of the forests and the remaining natural resources of the Province vital in the future and sustainability of businesses and economic activities; present environmental management principles, concepts, initiatives and models applicable for the business sector; and present existing environmental management programs of the National and Local Government Units, and partner CSO’s as options for partnership, engagement and investment opportunity for the business sector.
Mr. Flaviano enumerated the reasons why companies should invest in environmental sustainability projects as follows: It is everyone’s responsibility; Economic resources depends on it; It reduces the cost; Environment friendly is a trend; and it improves sustainability. He added the benefits of partnership for cost-sharing in CSR Projects through “EconReforestation” as follows: Companies get to avail for investment incentives; additional company promotion and recognition, and; it gives a big share in making a difference to the communities.
Mr. Flaviano also discussed about the reforestation projects of participating agencies as some of the choices for engagement of the business sector. He went on to tackle some of the terms included should organizations partner for the reforestation projects. He emphasized that in reforestation projects, for example, the company can help the environment, benefit from the harvest of the trees planted and help families of the partner farmers through livelihood at the same time.
Mr. Flaviano explained that the provincial government can help the private sector partner in reforestation projects by giving technical assistance thru cost sharing. The province can also provide planting materials. As form of investment incentive, the provincial government can grant tax holidays to investors depending on programs and partnerships. Details can be discussed once partnership is determined. In terms of promotion, the provincial government can help in campaigning for the partner company’s activities and its environment-friendly projects through its media programs and its advertising LED wall. They are also thinking of putting a wall recognizing its partner companies I environmental campaigns.
The provincial environment chief ended by encouraging the participants to partner with different environmental projects to make a difference, not only in environmental management but also in economic livelihood of the people.
The first presentation, the Climate Change Business, was facilitated by Mr. Ryan Vidanes, Executive Director of RD Foundation.
Mr. Vidanes discussed how industrial revolution from 1750 to 1840 started the increase of carbon emission. It was from the invention of the first automotive machine which used fossil fuels. It was highlighted that the 3 main sources of greenhouse gas emissions were power stations, industrial processes and transportation. He also presented the significant climate change anomalies and events in August 2016.
To connect the global scenario to the local setting, the presentation led to discussions on temperature rise, draught, heavy rainfall, sea level rise and stronger typhoons as significant natural events experienced in the recent times. One destructive event discussed was Typhoon Pablo which ravaged parts of Mindanao especially Davao Oriental area.
Connecting the impact of these destructive natural events to daily life of Filipinos, including business sector, Mr. Vidanes discussed its estimated amount of damages. Connecting to this, he presented the result of the 2015 Corporate Adaptation Survey by University of Notre Dame which shows that 90% of corporate world are “somewhat” or “very concerned” that climate change will have an impact on their supply chain. Ironically, he said, 30% have not developed a plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
He then presented several programs that participating companies can join in to help respond to the need for climate change adaptation and address its impact locally. These include the reforestation initiatives of host province and its partner agencies.
Mr. Vidanes ended his presentation by suggesting to the business sector to adopt green economy practices. He said, it is simple and one company can start by being mindful of their power consumption. It can be done as simple as putting off an air-conditioner and lights during the 12 noon to 1PM noon break to conserve energy.
To connect Mr Vidanes’ presentation to the local environment, Mr. Dennis Librado, Executive Director of Tribal Leaders Development Foundation, Inc., discussed about the current state of South Cotabato forests with focus on the Allah Valley Landscape. The perspectives he presented are as representative of the Civil Society Organizations.
Mr. Librado oriented the participants of the two protected landscapes in the province. The second is Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape covering parts of Tupi, Polomolok including some areas in the municipality of Malungon in Sarangani Province.
Starting with the overall state of forests of the Philippines, Mr. Librado emphasized that the country is classified as the center of marine biodiversity. Unfortunately, we are one of the 25 countries identified by IUCN as biodiversity hotspot, meaning these environments are extremely threatened by human activities.
Deducing to the provincial level, he discussed about AVPL as a key biodiversity area. AVPL was declared in 1985 under then President Ferdinand Marcos as the Allah Valley Watershed Forest Reserve (AVWFR). In 1997, the AVWFR became component of the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems law NIPAS. With the assessment by the DENR, it recommended that it be called the AVPL. The landscape is mostly within Mt Busa, a key biodiversity area. The AVPL, he furthered is one of the sub-basins of the greater Mindanao River Basin.
He added that around 27,000 hectares of the 102,000 hectares areas are considered timberland. Only 26,000 of these fall under Alienable and Disposable category.
Continuing the presentation, Mr. Librado highlighted the significance of AVPL as it provides water up to municipalities of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat down to areas within Ligawasan Marsh in Maguindanao down to Cotabato City.
Currently, more than 4,000 hectares are dedicated to plantation crops. Based on the estimates of NIA, more than 16,000 tons of silt are produced by siltation per day. This is a cause for concern for the communities in AVPL.
AVPL’s primary and secondary forests are mostly found in Lake Sebu and Tboli towns. Around 62,000 hectares of these are around Mt. Busa. Unfortunately, he said, these areas cannot be considered virgin forests since it’s already disturbed. In fact, part of Mt Busa key biodiversity within Sarangani have different mining tenements.
Message of Encouragement
The PENRO of South Cotabato, Radzak Sinarimbo gave a message to further encourage the participants to participate in the environmental endeavors of the government.
He thanked the organizers and the provincial government through the PEMO and the Governor Daisy Fuentes for such an event that will benefit the environments of South Cotabato. He assured that PENRO is a partner as it works on the same concerns in environmental protection and management.
Mr. Sinarimbo reiterated that the challenges presented are concerns of all sectors. He also encouraged the participants to look at the opportunities presented.
For its part, PENRO is working with 20 Peoples Organization to support their program to help address climate change impacts and to support livelihoods of its members. Fifteen of these POs are in AVPL while 5 are in MMPL. PENRO have programs parallel to addressing climate change proverty and alleviation of livelihood.
To end, PENRO Sinarimbo encouraged to participants to commit to the environmental projects of the government. He added that South Cotabato is a good area for investment and hopes that more in the private sector would give more time and effort for environment. He said, there has to be a balance between environment and development and asked participants to partner with the government.
Mr. Rogelio Acosta followed by presenting options for partnerships on ecosystems management.
He first presented the different ecosystems in South Cotabato to give an overview of the environment the business sector could be working out on if they engage with the programs presented.
To present how the overall ecosystems work and the potential options for co-investments, Mr. Acosta discussed the interconnectivity of ecosystems from uplands to the lowlands down to the drain areas.
Mr. Acosta outlined programs that can be entered into by interested parties for institutional partnerships. It can be through Environmental Programs of LGUs, as donors to environmental projects of NGOs or as sponsor to “adopt a forest or watershed or river program.
He also discussed about the concept of Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) as an option for private institutions to be of help in environmental protection and conservation.
Ridge to Reef Project
Mr. Roel Ian Brawer, Program Coordinator of Mahintana Foundation presented the Ridge to Reef Project in Silway-Klinan River Watershed.
He highlighted the 5 Components of the program which are as stakeholder and resource mobilization; riverbank and mangrove vegetation enhancement and stabilization; agro-biodiversity development and monitoring; livelihood assistance, settlement management and disaster risk reduction; sanitation, nutrition and health services.
He said that these programs are results of years of study and familiarity of stakeholders in the area. Similarly, these are in response to the challenges identified which are as follows: denudation of riparian zones due to conversion of areas to agricultural land; formal and informal settlements within riparian zones and environmentally critical areas; improper waste management and poor sanitation; low productivity due to lack of access to opportunities; changing climactic conditions, and; lack of coordinated plans from LGUs on how to address these issues.
The overall goal of the SKRW is to reverse the environmental degradation and improve economic and environmental status and benefits of the upland, downstream and coastal resources.
To inspire the participants, the presenter announced that SKRW has already mobilized 48 partners from public and private sectors (BLGUS, associations, companies, schools and other agencies.
The project has already planted and maintained 124,046 bamboos, 209,725 endemic fruit and forest trees and 8,280 mangroves and earthmatting of 67,500 sqm of eroded area with napier and other erosion control grasses. It has already assisted 197 farmers and their families in their livelihood through planting assistance, nursery establishment, coconut planting and food production projects. SKRW has also planted 2,400 poles of bamboo in support to the indigenous dikes establishment within the watershed. SKRW also provides CSR materials such as media mileage to partners through social and traditional media.
Interested partners can engage with SKRW through 3 modalities , namely: direct adoption of communities with entire package of interventions; co-adoption of a community with partner organizations, and; channeling of assistance through Mahintana Foundation, Inc.
Ms. Jane Gabriel Manilisis, Supervising EMS, PEMO,
presented the Provincial Government’s Reforestation Initiatives open for collaboration with the private sector.
To start, Ms. Manlisis stressed that it’s not only the government that has responsibility over the environment.
“…it’s not only the environment that has responsibility over the environment.”
She then discussed about different areas of engagement where the province has ongoing projects. For upland areas there is the biodiversity corridor covering Mt. Matutum, Tampakan, Tupi and Plomolok and eventually, in Malungon in Sarangani.
She said that the ambitious project aims to reconnect protected forested areas from Tampakan to Tupi, Polomolok and hopefully until Malungon. The project started in the ecobelt in tampakan. It was born out of desire to protect the biodiversity in case of displacement due to then incoming open pit mining proposed by Sagittarius Mines, Inc.
Recalling the previous years’ effect on the forest, Manlisis said that El Nino has been harsh causing the forests to become fragmented. She said the objective of the Biodiversity Corridor is to reconnect these forests. Additional problem are the people invading the biodiversity areas above 1,000 meters above sea level.
There is also a Bio-riparian Park in Tupi in the downstream of the corridor. Partner agencies for this are DENR, LGUs, government agencies and other organizations. Under this project are resource management, nursery management and assisted regeneration.
Interested parties can also join Adopt a Watershed project through the Voluntours Program for protection of tarsier habitat in Tupi. PEMO is also active in wildlife management for temporary shelter of wildlife within Mt. Susong Dalaga and Barangay Linan. Youth Organizations assisted by PEMO, the YES-O (Youth for Environment in School Organizations) can be tapped for engagement too.
Ms. Manlisis also mentioned the Rainforestation and Upstream Management Program of AVLDA where reforestation is promoted using indigenous tree species.
Provincial Board Member Hilario De Pedro VI delivered his message to close the forum.
He said he is already looking into the loopholes in our laws together with the help of PEMO. He said he has been studying law we are enforcing and making sure they are not in conflict with national laws. This is to strengthen the enforcement as suggested by Mr. Sequito.
BM de Pedro is also the director of a youth group promoting sports and environmental awareness for eco-sustainable initiatives for livelihood opportunities. The goal of the group is to teach the youngsters to get into sports and be concerned in environment too. He said, to successfully implement all activities, all government agencies should be interlinked. Tapping the young people is one strategy too as they are among the groups of passionate individuals.
“…to successfully implement all activities, all government agencies should be interlinked.”
He also recommended that Human Resource Departments should look into how to develop the attitude of its people to become more environmentally concerned. The bigger scale initiatives must start from household or office levels. BM de Pedro said South Cotabato is currently facing a big challenge. There are questions of unconstitutionality in the current environment code. “How it was passed is unconstitutional in the first place”, he said.
He said the Board Members do not want to be implicated in the case as it would be costly. He said, he’s not saying that open pit should be allowed, but no matter what, it could still happen.
BM de Pedro said he believes the business sector exists to help in the advocacy. He also assured that the provincial government through the leadership of Gov. Fuentes, is firm. “We can assure you if you would start helping, we in the government side can create more policies which are effective and efficient. But, we should not just ignore the voice of the people,” he said.
BM de Pedro appealed for the commitment and support of the business sector in the environmental concerns. “We are receiving support now, monetary, materials, properties, etc. however we wanted to be very careful on how to make programs sustainable. Allow us to take a peek into your activities so we would know how we can support each other”, he said. He closed by ensuring that the provincial government knows its responsibility to help, interact and link the programs of all sectors for effective implementation.
Forum proper ended at around 12:30 PM.