The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) held the first-ever Biodiversity-Friendly Business and Investment Forum on February 11, 2015 at the Intercontinental Hotel Manila to engage the business sector in investing on enterprises that promote sustainable use of biodiversity resources in key biodiversity areas of the country.
The pioneering event gathered potential investors and partners from local and foreign chambers of commerce, trade and industry associations, financial institutions, government and development agencies to meet community-based entrepreneurs from select biodiversity demonstration sites in the country and discuss business opportunities through biodiversity (BD)-friendly businesses. The "biodiversity -friendly" label and branding was also launched during the event.
In his keynote speech delivered by DENR Undersecretary Analiza R. Teh, representing Sec. Ramon J.P. Paje, His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III highlighted the government's efforts in pursuing biodiversity conservation such as the Biodiversity Partnerships Project, which aims to support biodiversity-friendly enterprises that exhibit the potential to reap and maximize economic benefits from biodiversity conservation.
President Aquino said that through this initiative, "we are promoting the safe keeping of the environment and the protection of our ecosystems, while at the same time progressing on the path to inclusive growth."
He also urged the private sector to mobilize resources and invest time and funds in these biodiversity-friendly enterprises.
Also present during the forum were Mr. Maurice Dewulf, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines and key officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, and Department of Agriculture and partner local government units.
BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim, meanwhile hoped that the forum will enable dialogues between the private sector and the community-based people's organizations towards scaling up the businesses at commercial and sustainable levels that will redound to benefit our rural-based small and medium scale industries and provide income opportunities to those communities along the production chain."
The BMB, in collaboration with the other agencies has identified a number of business and investment opportunities which may be supported by potential private sector partners and investors. BPP has selected seven (7) key biodiversity areas (KBAs), including one (1) from the New Conservation Areas of the Philippines Project (NewCAPP) site to present the huge investment potential of their biodiversity-friendly enterprises. The People's Organizations from these areas have undergone training and workshops to hone their skills in producing fine quality products.
These include, but not limited to, an ecotourism project and furniture and handicraft production within the 200,155-hectare Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape Area in Taytay, Palawan; community-based coffee enterprises and processed food at the Quirino Protected Landscape in Quirino province; handicraft production and handloom weaving using the "bakong" plant, and a wine, vinegar, jam factory using a local fruit called "Lubeg" inside the Northeastern Cagayan KBA in Cagayan province; an eco-park project integrating a lemongrass and citronella plantation and essential oils extraction facility, and production of gifts and houseware products using tiger grass, nito, bamboo and abaca in Northern Negros Natural Park in Negros Occidental; houseware products from abaca, bamboo and nito in Central Panay Mountains in the island of Panay; almaciga resin production in Mt. Hamiguitan Wildlife Reserve Sanctuary in Davao Oriental; community-based coffee enterprises, and furniture and handicraft production in Mt. Kalatungan, a New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP) site in Bukidnon Province.
The plenary session saw representatives of the People's Organizations from the selected demonstration sites presenting their respective biodiversity-friendly products and enterprise. Some of the biodiversity-friendly products were also on exhibition during the Forum where the business sector has able to interact with the community organizations.
The Business and Investment Forum is initiated by DENR-BMB and partner agencies under the project arm, Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming in Local Agricultural Landscapes, also known as the Biodiversity Partnerships Projects (BPP). BPP is carried out with funding support from the UNDP and Global Environment Facility (GEF) and in partnership with national government agencies and national and local non-government organizations and local government units to undertake the activities in eight (8) demonstration sites. #