By Charissa M. Luci
Lawmakers threw support to the initiative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to localize the country’s biodiversity action plan and financing in Mindoro.
Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Paulino Salvador C. Leachon, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali signed recently the Declaration of Cooperation in support of the localization of the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (PBSAP) 2015-2028.
“Being an island endowed with rich natural resources and a host of unique species of plants and animal wildlife, Mindoro and the people living on the island have everything to gain out of this initiative,” Sato said.
Occidental Mindoro Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola and Oriental Mindoro Alfonso V. Umali Jr. also manifested their support to the localization of the country’s blueprint seeking to protect and conserve country’s rich biodiversity.
Sato, a member of the House Committee on Ecology, thanked the UN and DENR for choosing the islands Mindoro as pilot areas for the localization of PBSAP and the Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN) project.
The former governor of Occidental Mindoro noted that the PBSAP lists 113 actions that cover nine thematic areas, including forest, coastal and maritime, inland waters, cave and cave systems, protected areas, agrobiodiversity, urban biodiversity, invasive alien species and access, and benefit-sharing.
It involves more than 50 national and attached agencies as responsibility centers supported by other sectors in the society, such as the academe, local governments and civil society, she said.
“While the Philippines is committed to protecting and conserving its rich biodiversity as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), much needs to be desired in terms of financing as reflected in its annual budget allocation,” Sato laments.
She said from 2017 to 2028, the government has to spend P24 billion a year in implementing the PBSAP.
Current spending of the Philippines for biodiversity conservation stands at P5 billion a year, leaving a financing gap of P19 billion a year, she noted.
BIOFIN estimates that ecosystem services in the Philippines amount to P2.3 trillion a year. Ecosystem services include timber and fuel-wood production, water provision, ecotourism, flood prevention, soil erosion, fishery production, crop production, and benefits derived from coral reefs and mangrove.
BIOFIN is a testing finance mechanism such as budget realignment, private sector engagement, and access to earmarked funds.
The project will be jointly implemented by the UNDP, DENR and local government units of Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro by localizing the PBSAP on Mindoro Island and apply the BIOFIN methodology in financing biodiversity in the two provinces.
UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra has commended “the local officials of the province of Mindoro for taking on the challenge and are now leading the efforts to narrow the financing gap in biodiversity protection and conservation, one province at a time.”
“The repercussions of biodiversity loss are much more expensive than the cost of sustaining, protecting and managing biodiversity. Now more than ever we need to view biodiversity as an investment that can deliver significant economic and social returns. It is an investment that needs to be made by both government and the private sector,” the UNDP official said.