WB extends $700,000 grant for Phl environmental study

Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) - May 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank has approved technical assistance of $700,615 (about P30 million) to provide data on the current state of the country’s natural resources.

The Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystems (Phil-WAVES) project promotes the integration of principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs.

An additional $800,000 grant may be extended.

It will be used to support the policy analysis of the data and indicators produced by the minerals and mangroves accounts.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) may likewise be recipients of further grants for studies on Southern Palawan and the Laguna Lake basin.

World Bank-Philippines country director Motoo Konishi said holding sufficient data on natural resources and properly analyzing the same are crucial to making decisions that will help the country reach the twin objectives of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity.

“We are optimistic that Phil-WAVES will help us better appreciate the interactions between the economy and the environment,” Konishi said in a statement.

Ensuring sustainable use of natural resources could improve the lives of the poor, who are usually highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihood.

In 2013, agriculture, forestry and fisheries accounted for 11.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and a third of total employment.

However, records at the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that poverty incidence in these sectors is high, reaching 36.7 percent in 2009.

“Sustainable management and judicious use of natural resources are thus critical to ensure that growth is pro-poor and inclusive,” Konishi said.

Phil-WAVES will use the 2012 System of Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA), an internationally accepted framework for the accounting of natural resources, to measure minerals and mangroves.

The PSA will use this information to develop macroeconomic indicators that will assess the value of these key natural resources and their contribution to the country’s GDP.

Konishi said intimate knowledge of the total value of natural capital like mangroves and minerals can help policymakers address poverty issues. He cited the lack of valuation of mangroves and their role in protecting the coastlines, which can lead to conversion to shrimp farms and other uses, with the poor losing their means of livelihood from fish habitat destruction and their coastal communities becoming more vulnerable to extreme weather events like storm surges.

The Phil-WAVES grant will focus on capacity building and generating data and indicators for key natural resources to support the government in institutionalizing the use of the selected SEEA modules.

Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority Arsenio Balisacan said Phil-WAVES would help provide quality data on the current state of natural resources in the Philippines using an internationally accepted methodology. It will help plan for pro-poor, inclusive growth through the sustainable use of key natural resources.

“The implementation of NCA (Natural Capital Accounting) in the Philippines is well-timed. The current administration emphasizes governance reforms that include transparent and science-based decision-making, while pursuing sustainable, inclusive, pro-poor and resilient growth,” Balisacan said.

The Phil-WAVES grant will focus on minerals and mangroves and support the sustainable management of these key sectors. Executive Order 79 refers to WAVES as a tool for conducting resource accounting and cost-benefit analyses.

The country faces the pressures of a growing population, rapid urbanization and competing land uses – all of which contribute to the deterioration of natural resources. It is vulnerable to climate change impacts, which greatly affect the poor and vulnerable groups of society.

The Philippines is one of the core implementing countries in the WAVES Global Partnership Program, which promotes the implementation and institutionalization of NCA over a five-year period.


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