DENR chief highlights partnerships to address environmental concerns

Cagayan de Oro City—Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga has underscored the need for a comprehensive approach and multi-stakeholder partnerships for evidence-based, inclusive, and adaptive leadership to address the issues confronting the country’s environment and natural resources.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of a 2-day forum organized by the DENR at the Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday, Loyzaga said continued dialogues are needed to bolster cooperation and understanding to overcome the challenges of coherence and implementation.

“As you may know, the DENR does these multi-stakeholder consultations because partnerships are key to delivering on our commitments and the work we do at the Department,” Loyzaga pointed out.

Around 400 national and local government officials, business leaders, academe and scientific community, members of civil society organizations and community-based groups took part in the two-day Mindanao-wide dialogue.

The official began her welcome remark by borrowing a quote from President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.: “There is no question that the preservation of the environment is the preservation of life.  If we cannot mitigate climate change, all our plans for the economy, all our plans for the future will be for naught.”

Towards a green and blue economy

Loyzaga, President Marcos, alter-ego in the DENR, highlighted the present administration’s agenda, particularly on the creation of green jobs by pursuing a green and blue economy and establishing liveable and sustainable communities.

She said such an agenda had guided the DENR in achieving better pathways to conserve, protect, manage, restore, and regenerate the country’s environment and natural resources; and manage risk and build resilience using the ridge-to-reef approach.

Loyzaga said the Mindanao Multi-Stakeholder Forum, is an opportunity to gather both evidence and expertise to support the administration’s priorities for economic recovery, climate-resilient and inclusive development and a just transition towards the green and blue economy.

‘No perfect solution’

“There isn’t a perfect approach or solution to tackling the environmental challenges we face.  However, with everyone’s support and collaboration, together we will be able to craft adaptive, inclusive, and sustainable development pathways built on strategic partnerships and sound science,” she said.

The DENR chief said while the agency mandated to manage the country’s natural wealth continues to expand partnerships, they will also strive to deepen engagement with the different stakeholders.

She also underscored the critical role local government units (LGUs) play in building resilient communities and efficient use and conservation of natural resources.

Multiple challenges, opportunities

Loyzaga said the Mindanao region is faced with many challenges, but nevertheless, said it is rife with opportunities.

“If we work together—the government, the private sector, civil society, academe, development partners, and the media—Mindanao’s potential today can be unlocked,” she said.

Loyzaga is optimistic that the multi-stakeholder dialogue will provide an opportunity to develop initial strategies, which must be followed through with a very extensive consultation process on how to accelerate development in the region.

Localized, contextualized approach

Loyzaga said the diversity in the Mindanao region requires a localized and contextualized approach and vowed to hold extensive consultation with local actors across all interventions at all stages.

“The Department stands by the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in terms of degradation and we acknowledge that some bear more responsibility than others in our pursuit of development,” she said, expressing hope that close collaboration and partnership can yield the most significant results.

“This synergy will generate new capacity for everyone to protect, restore, and enhance our rich but threatened ecosystems,” she said.

In his keynote message, Cagayan de Oro City Second District Rep. Rufus Rodriguz lauded the initiative of the DENR in holding the multi-stakeholder dialogue, saying the discussion in the forum is an essential contribution to the identification of strategies and priority actions of the DENR.

He also noted that such widely-participated multi-stakeholder dialogue was a first in Mindanao.

During the plenary, Forester Tommy T. Valdez, former National Council President of the Society of Filipino Foresters Inc., discussed about sustainable forest management, while Dennis Joseph I. Salvador, executive director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation discussed Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Initiatives and Challenges.

Maria Esterluna Santos Canoy, executive director of the Kitanglad Integrated NGO Inc., talked about the lessons learned on Environmental Natural Resources Management: Indigenous People’s Experience.

Fr. Joel E. Tabora, President of Ateneo de Davao University, meanwhile, underscored in his talk the need for Research and Development to Accelerate Climate Action.

Lastly, Dr. Hilly An Roa-Quiaoit, a University Professor at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology and a member of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council talked about Ecosystem Services in Protected Areas and River Basins.


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