Press Release
May 22, 2017

Legarda Calls for Bolder Action to Protect PHL Biodiversity

In observance of the International Day of Biological Diversity (May 22), Senator Loren Legarda today urged the government to intensify efforts in protecting biodiversity by integrating biodiversity conservation into the country's development policies and agenda, recognizing eco-tourism's potential role in sustainable development.

"The decline of our ecosystems has been found as one of the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty, in the context of climate change. Therefore, protecting ecosystems - which involves rehabilitating our forests, cleaning our rivers, and stopping pollution, among other actions, requires action by all sectors and stakeholders including the civil society, the academe and the private sector. Multidisciplinary approach is essential in developing integrated solutions to these challenges," Legarda stressed.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism" which has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Legarda, the Philippines' foremost advocate of climate change awareness and environmental protection, is happy to witness the unveiling of the Museum of Philippine Biodiversity project as well as Junyee's installation art, "Ugnayan", at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.

The Senator is looking forward to the completion of the Museum of Philippine Biodiversity. "I have envisioned this project to be an instrument for people to appreciate the natural bounty of our country, realize the effects of our exploitative practices, and hopefully be engaged in efforts to rehabilitate and preserve what is left of our protected areas and biodiversity."

She added, "Junyee's installation art, Ugnayan, while originally meant to visualize the unity and cooperation of the 21 nations composing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in pursuit of common goals in various fields, also serves as a reminder of our ugnayan with Mother Earth and our duty to protect and conserve our ecosystems."

These events are hosted and organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) in partnership with the University of the Philippines, Office of Senator Loren Legarda and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Legarda noted that in different parts of the country, sustainable tourism is a continuing challenge as some natural tourist sites are poorly managed. But she said that there are existing practices that can be emulated like in El Nido Resorts in Palawan, which promotes environmental stewardship through its Environmental Code of Conduct called "Ten El-Nidos," reminding guests about environmentally sensitive Protected Areas and the appropriate behavior to ensure conservation.

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, "A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue."

"The upcoming museum and the constructed installation art within the park do not only serve as additional attractions but also as instruments that will broaden people's perspective and deepen their understanding about biodiversity. Let us use this installation and the upcoming museum as starting point to encourage people to step-up for the welfare of our environment and participate in its conservation," Legarda concluded.

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