Lopez urges environment advocates to close ranks to ensure green economy shift

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has called on fellow environment advocates to guard against any attempt to derail the country's shift to a developmental path compatible with "green economy," which would eliminate socially and environmentally destructive practices such as irresponsible mining.

During the Earth Day celebration held at the La Mesa Eco Park last Saturday, Lopez said it is time for environmental activists and groups to close ranks and "create an energetic vessel" that would drive the country towards economic and political growth that do not lead to environmental destruction.

"Mining and big business control politics. That's the reality that exists and that's why there is so much suffering," said Lopez, who earlier this year ordered the closure of 22 mines and suspension of four others due to serious environmental violations.

She added: "But I know the power of number can overcome these forces. And if that number is infused with love and truth, we are invincible."

Last month, Lopez announced that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now ready to lead government efforts toward a shift to a green economy that values and protects the natural environment, and provides well-paying and decent jobs to local communities.

This developed as she signed an administrative order that contains the guidelines for just transition of the DENR's programs and projects to "green economy models" or GEMS where community members create sustainable goods and services for the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.

Lopez, a long-time advocate for the environment, believes that shifting to green economy will create opportunities for inclusive growth, job creation and poverty reduction. ### 

DENR to assess socio-economic impacts of protected areas

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently developed a framework for assessing social and economic impacts of protected areas to ensure that ongoing conservation efforts are effective, and contribute to human well-being and poverty reduction.

The DENR, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), came up with a set of guidelines on Socio-Economic Assessment and Monitoring System (SEAMS) designed to gather data or information that will serve as basis for monitoring the benefits of protected areas to local communities, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs).

BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said the system will serve as a standard method that will be used by protected area superintendents and other field implementers in assessing and monitoring the socio-economic condition of occupants in protected areas.

She also said that data and information gathered using the SEAMS shall be useful in planning and determining the appropriate management interventions that will provide improvements in the lives of the communities within and around protected areas, at the same time ensure the conservation of the important biological resources that make the protected area valuable to everyone.

Aside from the socio-economic study, the SEAMS project also seeks to locate sources and values of various ecosystems, and determine the degree of degradation or improvement in ecosystem services, uses and values, and identify the ecosystem pressures and threats, including their causes.

A multi-sectoral team will be created in each region to oversee the implementation of the SEAMS project, according to her.

Each team, to be created by the concerned DENR regional director, will be composed of the chief of the conservation and development division; the environment and natural resources officers from the provincial and community levels; representatives from the city, municipal and barangay governments; civil society organizations; and people's organizations.

The teams are expected to come up with an assessment report to be submitted to the BMB, which will then consolidate them as inputs to the State of Protected Area Report. ###


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