Legislators and local chief executives of the provinces of Mindoro, led by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato, are committing full support to localize the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (PBSAP) 2015-2028 and biodiversity financing in Mindoro Island.
Joining Sato in signing the Declaration of Cooperation in support to the localization of the PBSAP 2015-2028 were United Nations Development Programme Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra, DENR Undersecretary Maria Paz Luna, Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Paulino Salvador C. Leachon, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali, Occidental Mindoro Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola, Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso V. Umali, Jr., and Biodiversity Management Bureau Assistant Director Antonio C. Manila.
A member of the House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Ecology and the legislative champion of the Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN), Sato lauded UNDP and the DENR for selecting Mindoro as pilot areas for the localization of PBSAP and BIOFIN project.
The PBSAP is the country’s blueprint to protect and conserve its rich biodiversity while BIOFIN explores financial resources and mechanisms such as budget realignment, private sector engagement and accessing earmarked funds to implement PBSAP. Read Policy Note on Increasing Investments in Biodiversity.
The plan 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 lists more than 50 national and attached agencies as responsibility centers supported by other sectors in the society, such as academe, local governments and civil society.
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.
Implementing the PBSAP will cost the government PhP 24 billion annually from 2017 to 2028. Current spending of the Philippines for biodiversity conservation stands at PhP 5 billion a year, leaving a financing gap of PhP 19 billion per annum.
The BIOFIN has estimated that ecosystem services in the Philippines amount to PhP 2.3 trillion a year. Ecosystem services include timber and fuelwood production, water provision, ecotourism, carbon offset, flood prevention, soil erosion, fishery production, crop production, and benefits derived from coral reefs and mangrove.
The UNDP, DENR and local government units (LGUs) of Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro will jointly implement the project by localizing the PBSAP on Mindoro Island and apply the BIOFIN methodology in financing biodiversity in the two provinces.
“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. We commend 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,” UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra.
“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. (UNDP; Office of Rep. Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato)