DENR MIMAROPA joins 1st Philippine Environment Summit
by: Michaela T. Rongavilla


envi-summit copyThe Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) together with the Green Convergence organized the First Philippine Environment Summit, with the theme, “Breakthroughs and Innovations Towards Sustainable Development.” The event was held last February 09-11, 2016 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City. This was attended by around one thousand (1000) participants, representing various sectors, such as private entities, academe, non-government organizations, religious groups, local and national government agencies, and other professionals. The MIMAROPA Region was represented by Ms. Michaela T. Rongavilla of the Conservation and Development Division/Office of the Regional Director and Mr. Neil James Verzosa of the Regional Public Affairs Office together with Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc., as partner NGO/exhibitor.

The first day of the program started with an intermission number by El Gamma Penumbra. The welcome address was delivered by the President of Green Convergence, Dr. Angelina Galang, who emphasized the importance of sustainable development through innovations that balance the conservation and usage of natural resources. Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales gave his inspirational message where he shared his personal experiences on the significant changes occurring in the environment, as well as the importance of educating people to promote apparent change to the society, most especially educating the heart - the values for the progress of the Filipinos. The keynote address of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was delivered by DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje. His message focused on the international efforts being attended by heads of various countries, such as the conference held last year in Paris, to develop more meaningful strategies to address climate change and disasters. Various laws and programs on how the government addressed environmental conservation and protection were highlighted such as the National Greening Program. This was followed by a video message from Dr. Vandana Shiva of the National Board of Organic Standards of India.The exhibit showcased breakthroughs and innovations from different organizations and agencies regarding environmental preservation and conservation, as well as ways to enhance the natural attributes of our resources such as the use of mycorrhiza, vermi composting and permaculture. It also promoted native delicacies, local products, environmental conservation efforts (LGU Eco-champions) of various provinces such as, Albay, Negros Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Cordillera.

The afternoon session started with Updates on the Conference of Parties 21 in Paris by Deputy Head of Mission of French Embassy, Laurent Legodec. He discussed the initiatives undertaken by the heads of different countries during the climate change conference. The Paris Agreement was participated by around 150 heads of state, including President Aquino, discussing and negotiating the possible balance and solution for the present environmental status, considering the capabilities and limited resources of different countries, and committing the reduction of greenhouse gases emission and formulation of climate change adaptation through universal and flexible framework promoting transparency. He also emphasized that as these agreements were signed, "2016 was the year of action." The rest of the day was devoted to breakout sessions on various topics which focused on 1) Organic Agriculture; 2) Safe Food Manufacturing; 3) Health and Food and; 4) Urban Gardening and Solid Waste Management.

The second day of the program started with the recap of the first day's discussion. This was followed by a report by Sec. Paje on the State of the Philippine Environment wherein he discussed the current status of the natural resources in the country, the programs and projects undertaken by the government to address environmental threats and issues. Next was the ISO 14001 2015 Certification awarding to DENR. The ISO Certification was awarded to Secretary Paje by the Managing Director of SGS Philippines, Mr. Ariel Miranda. Mr. David Suzuki, co-founder of David Suzuki Foundation discussed “Healthy Environment.” This was followed by a forum wherein Sec. Paje shared that the Congress has allocated P500 Million Pesos for Coastal and Marine Environment with UP Marine Science Institute as a partner institution to conduct several capacity-building efforts, trainings, researches and projects concerning coastal and marine environment. The afternoon session was dedicated for the breakout sessions with the following topics: 1) Healthy Land; 2) Healthy Water; 3) Healthy Air and; 4) Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management.

The last day of the program began with the recap of the day two activities and a presentation of Sustainable Economy for the Philippines by Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay, followed by a forum. Breakout sessions on Sustainable Economy were divided into four topics: 1) Eco-friendly Industries; 2) Sustainable Tourism; 3) Renewable Energy and; 4) Environmental Governance. This was followed by Presidentiable’s Hour wherein a representative of Former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas presented his Environmental Agenda together with a Q&A session. To officially start the plenary culminating ceremonies on stewardship, the DENR Chorale rendered an invocation, followed by a presentation by Department of Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro titled “Education for Sustainability.” Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno presented the Writ of Kalikasan and the program ended with the presentation of Summit Resolutions, Awarding of LGU Eco-Champions and Closing Address by DR. Angeline Galang of Green Convergence.