Vanguards of our biodiversity

NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Luc Véron - The Philippine Star

Since I arrived in the Philippines almost two years ago, I have been in awe of the country’s rich biodiversity - from the tarsiers in Bohol to the tamaraws in Mindoro and the magnificent eagles from Davao. Not to mention the more than 10,000 begonias, orchids and palms endemic to the country.

The Philippines is almost a haven and is considered among the 18 mega-biodiverse countries containing 70 and 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species, respectively. But unfortunately, like in the rest of the world, the list of endangered species in the country is fast growing.

Time is of the essence to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.  We are all accountable for the continuing alteration and degradation of our land and marine resources, which are driving almost one million species to extinction.

Biodiversity is our active maze: anything that happens in a piece affects the other pieces; we are all part of an ecosystem and biodiversity protection and conservation require strategic responses.

At the incoming Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity (COP15), the European Union will play a leading role on raising global ambition. Protecting 30 percent of land and 30 percent of oceans by 2030, especially those areas that are valuable for biodiversity and ecosystem services, will be one of the main targets for the EU at COP15. We will also support targets that effectively address the direct drivers of biodiversity loss, including pollution, and will pursue stronger mechanisms for transparency and review of implementation.

The EU will also support an ambitious and holistic mobilisation of resources. The EU and its Member States together lived up to their commitment agreed in 2012 to double international biodiversity finance by 2015, and to maintain that level up to 2020. Last year, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a “doubling of the doubling,” in particular for the most vulnerable countries.

The EU is also stepping up efforts to conserve biodiversity in the Philippines and the region more broadly.

To boost ocean governance, we are spearheading knowledge exchange and dialogue among marine and coastal stakeholders. We do this by working closely with national and local administrations, regional organisations, local communities including indigenous people and women’s groups, the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

The EU is promoting sustainable fishing and resource-efficient processing practices in Mindoro.  It also supports the conservation of Coral Triangle’s marine ecosystems through the creation of marine protected areas and networks in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.  In the Philippines, we are helping restore mangrove forests in Balabac island, South Palawan, which supports local livelihoods and builds ecosystem and community resilience.

We are proud that since 1999 the EU has been providing support to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity in Los Baños, Laguna. Through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of Protected Areas Programme (BCAMP), the EU helps protect the ASEAN Heritage Parks and promotes the Youth Biodiversity Programme, including the Young ASEAN Storytellers. It also assists with mainstreaming of biodiversity in key sectors such as education, infrastructure, mining and agriculture.

The EU is embarking on a biodiversity strategy for 2030 to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. In the post-COVID-19 context, the biodiversity blueprint endeavours to build our societies’ resilience to future threats including impacts of climate change, forest fires, food insecurity and disease outbreaks.

The strategy details commitments to put in place effective measures to restore degraded ecosystems. It also introduces measures to enable transformative change. Most importantly, the EU would like to lead by example in addressing the global biodiversity crisis.

In the Philippines I am pleased that, recently, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the Philippine Development Plan for 2023 to 2028 would include actionable plans to integrate climate action into development plans, increase the ecological footprint and overall pursue a greener economy.

The  country’s own roadmap, the Philippines Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, foresees that, by 2028, biodiversity is restored and rehabilitated, valued, effectively managed and secured, maintaining ecosystem services to sustain healthy, resilient Filipino communities and delivering benefits to all.

It outlines measurable targets linked to the Convention on Biological Diversity commitments.  These objectives include conservation of biological diversity; sustainable use of its components; and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Every country or group of countries can have its own distinctive approaches to biodiversity protection. Nevertheless, what matters most is to put our acts together in ensuring the protection and restoration of biodiversity. The continuity and quality of our lives depend on our biodiversity. After all, we are part of the ecosystem and we are duty bound to protect it.

As our Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius said recently: “Our health, our wellbeing, our climate, our economy – they all depend on nature. We cannot waste time any more in losing biodiversity. We have to act now and I am glad that ministers from around the EU have united themselves and agreed on a common vision for our future and that of the planet. I will defend this ambition in Montréal and work with partners from around the world to make it a shared one.“

*      *      *

Luc Veron is the Ambassador of the European Union.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with