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PH to continue harnessing blue economy amid climate threats: DENR

Investment in climate change mitigation is vital to reduce the destructive impact of extreme weather conditions in the Philippines, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a virtual webinar of East Asian Seas’ Response, in celebration of World Ocean Day yesterday, DENR Climate Change Service Officer-in-charge, Director Chief Elenida Basug, cited a study suggesting the country should implement urgent climate actions to alleviate economic losses.

“Based on a study by the Asian Development Bank, the country is estimated to lose 6 percent of its gross domestic product every year until the year 2100 if it disregards the risk associated with climate change,” she said.

She noted that with climate change mitigation, the average loss may decline to 4 percent.

Destructive weather conditions from 2007 to 2016 alone have left the country with around US$19.16 billion or more than P1 trillion in estimated socio-economic damage due to natural hazards attributed to climate change.

“The center for research on the epidemiology of disasters recorded 187 significant damaging natural disasters in the country from 2007 to 2016, causing the death of 16,262 people, and injury to about 168,114 persons,” she said.

Despite these threats, the DENR implied the relevance of advancing the blue economy or the systems and collaboration seeking to sustain marine conservation.

Basug insisted that marine biodiversity has been an economic asset for the country, mentioning it has contributed to some US $3 billion or more than P158.78 billion value-added from coastal and marine tourism alone, even providing employment to 900,000 workers.

Hence, their call for more sustainable actions and programs that will foster marine biodiversity protection.

For its part, the DENR said it has come up with the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP), which aims “to comprehensively manage, address, and effectively reduce the degradation of the coastal and marine ecosystem”.

“Our focus on Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program or CMEMP for short is really trying to scale up marine protected areas, moving away from the establishment of traditional individual MPAs, but rather moving towards making it more efficient, making it more effective by networking not just through intergovernmental but through the transboundary marine protected area,” Biodiversity Management Bureau Integrated Coastal and Marine Partnership Officer-in-charge Chief John Erick Avelino said.

Included in the CMEMP is the Biodiversity-friendly and Social Enterprise Development (BDFE) program which provides supplemental and alternative livelihood for communities.

“In 2020, 150 biodiversity-friendly enterprises were provided with technical assistance, 33 peoples organizations were provided with financial assistance amounting to P37.8 million, it’s targeted that by 2028, 70 percent of our peoples’ organization enterprises in the biodiversity enterprise master list will be recognized as full-pledged BDFE,” Basug said.

Besides these actions, responsible tourism, as well as multi-sectoral collaborations in the country, were mentioned to be crucial to harnessing the blue economy.

“This crisis that we are all unfortunately confronting provides us the opportunity to rethink, evaluate our directions, our choices for the economy, for the environment, for humanity. We need to analyze our response through a climate lens,” she said.*PNA

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