Climate and Environment

DENR chief Yulo-Loyzaga stresses need for democratic leadership, science-based governance

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DENR chief Yulo-Loyzaga stresses need for democratic leadership, science-based governance
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets with the new DENR Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to discuss topics concerning the environment.
Office of the President

MANILA, Philippines — Climate and disaster resilience expert Toni Yulo-Loyzaga emphasized Thursday the need for science-based governance, and for consultation and collaboration with stakeholders as she assumed the leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Yulo-Loyzaga said the department’s mission should represent an ethical stewardship to serve with brilliance and virtue, and uphold shared environmental values as well as scientific and technical excellence.

"We want a stewardship that is democratic: where stakeholders can participate, where there is transparency in the department’s plans and decisions," the new DENR chief said, adding the agency’s officials and employees should "work across silos" and not be limited to their specific domains.

The DENR has often been criticized in recent years for a perceived lack of proper consultations on policies and on projects like the Dolomite Beach along the Manila Baywalk.

Groups earlier welcomed the appointment of Yulo-Loyzaga to the DENR, given her background in science and in working in civil society. But Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment also challenged her to stand with indigenous peoples and environmental defenders who are at risk.

Yulo-Loyzaga also stressed the need to protect indigenous species, to ensure the capabilities of different bureaus support each other, to invest in a scientific risk-based approach, and to make sure that environmental legislations are evidence-informed.

“We strive for efficiency, but also technical excellence in the conduct of our work especially in government transactions, efficient use of our resources, digitization hopefully and modernization of our information management systems,” she added.

Yulo-Loyzaga likewise said the accounting of the country’s natural resources needs to “take place very, very soon.”

“This will in fact involve the use of science and technology as well as the use of financial management or economics. That means we will need to work across different departments to achieve that foundation,” she said.

Climate change adaptation

A disaster resilience expert and climate change advocate, Yulo-Loyzaga said the country needs to combat the climate crisis through practical climate change adaptation measures, and the use of science to approach impacts of climate change on the national scale as well as locally.

She is the president of the National Resilience Council and former executive director of research institute Manila Observatory.

“We would like to build resilient communities along with our other government agencies through risk sensitive and balanced development of resources along what we call natural-rural-urban transect,” the DENR secretary said.

“[We need to] work with our cities. They’re our engines of growth, but they depend largely on the ecosystems that support them,” she added.

As she ended her speech, Yulo-Loyzaga called for collaboration.

“My office is open. Please feel free to come in and share your thoughts and possibly concerns as well.”


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