Since I worked for Boracay Island, Philippines in the early 90s I already started my personal crusade on “saving our seas”, if only to pick up the trash daily along the famed White Beach. This was twenty years ago when there were only a handful of resorts on the island. Since then, rapid, unsustainable development and environmental degradation in and around the island just burgeoned before our eyes. After 10 years since I left, I was brought back full circle to the environmentally deteriorated island, and I had to do my part, with The Boracay Initiative, if only to enlighten stakeholders about conservation of their invaluable source of tourism livelihood!
I was also given an opportunity to visit Coron, which is still a developing island tourist destination, however, I can foresee, that without a Sustainable Tourism development framework in place, it will go the way of Boracay too. Thus, we also organized The Coron Initiative with our Lead Advocate and partner NGOs in the Coron & Calamianes islands. I was also invited to visit home-province Negros Occidental, and experienced firsthand their marine conservation efforts in Sagay’s Carbin Reef as well as Danjugan Island in Cauayan town. From then, I have proposed The Negros Initiative, mainly to organize the framework on Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism for the province.
With my work experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer, Carbon Negative and Conservation Leader, I had hands-on knowledge and experience to share the best practices in Sustainability and protection of our ecosystems and heritage, while sharing it with the world.
Experience and enlightenment found along the Philippine learning curve are:
1. Each Filipino citizen is a stakeholder in this archipelago of 7,107 islands. Each one lives in one of these islands, therefore, is accountable for its marine and coastal resources, one of our richest natural heritage.
2. All businesses and local government units (LGUs) in these respective islands must be accountable as well – they, along with the local community are the so-called private and public stakeholders.
3. In the conservation, protection and safeguarding of our environmental and natural resources, the following multi- stakeholders are responsible:
- Local Government Units (LGUs), to which the place and jurisdiction of the natural resources are located and entrusted
- Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) the government agency and its operations arm, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) with its Integrated Coastal Management Project & Coral Triangle Initiative!
- Businesses or enterprises which are directly or indirectly engaged in the trade of environmental resources, such as resorts/ lodgings /restaurants, manufacturing, aqua culture & fisheries, production of coastal and marine products, etc. are responsible for the triple bottom line for their business: community, environment and profit.
- NGOs – non-government organizations are the civil society leaders whose vision and mission are to ensure that Environmental laws and mandates to conserve the environment, protect all indigenous inhabitants and the future generations.
- Local communities
- Awareness and participation of the local community in conservation efforts are keys to saving our seas. Getstarted at home to be eco-friendly, be pro-active and report delinquents. Not only we at the present, are the direct beneficiaries, it is also for the future generations too! As the African saying goes, “we did not inherit the earth; it is just loaned to us by our grandchildren”.
- Department of Education – to teach and show school children how to conserve and protect. A good example is from Negros Occidental, where an environmental-award winning Iliranan Elementary School involved its community in embracing Sustainability & Eco-friendly practices.
- Department of Justice – in most areas, the DENR & the EMB are ill-equipped and powerless to go after corrupt pundits, poachers and environmental law violators. This is where the DOJ should step in and assist. Together with the LGU, Police and community, they should apprehend and punish these criminals immediately.
We ALL have to do our part. “No man is an island”, no pun intended. Together, we can protect our coral reefs and seas, which provide basic livelihood from tourism, elemental compounds for crucial medicines, health products, save lives and ensure the future generations’ opportunities from our precious Philippine marine ecosystems and resources!
Photos above courtesy of BayanMoPatrolMo & Al Linsangan III of The Coron Initiative.
The Coron Initiative with Clean Blue Asia will be working on Sustainable Beach Management as well as the UNEP’s Manila declaration to protect the world’s oceans from land-based activities, educating public and private stakeholders on the conservation of marine environment towards a GREEN ECONOMY. For more info and assistance in your community or beach business, email firstname.lastname@example.org