Summit to restore beauty of rivers
The situation is disconcerting, considering that rivers, as an important part of the water cycle, carry water and nutrients to areas all around the earth. They act as drainage channels for surface water and drain nearly 75 percent of the earth's land surface.
Summit to restore beauty of rivers
Christell Fatima M. Tudtud, May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - October 27, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Murky. Polluted. Foul-smelling.

That’s how most people would describe the state of rivers in Metro Cebu.

The situation is disconcerting, considering that rivers, as an important part of the water cycle, carry water and nutrients to areas all around the earth. They act as drainage channels for surface water and drain nearly 75 percent of the earth's land surface.

These bodies of water also offer an excellent habitat and food for many of the earth's animals.

To seeking ways on how to restore the cleanliness of river systems here, several professionals and river conservationists around the globe are expected to be in Cebu next month for the fourth run of the International River Summit. It will be hosted by the Mandaue City government.

The three-day event is set to gather stakeholders such as local and national government officials, policy experts, private sector representatives, and members of the academe in a bid to pool resources and gather commitment to save the degrading rivers.

The Environmental Management Bureau, an attached line agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, has been preparing for this since 2017.

A project seeking to rehabilitate the Butuanon River, which traverses cities of Cebu and Mandaue, was greenlighted in partnership with the EMB-7 last year. The story of Butuanon’s transformation may be presented during this year’s summit.

Very timely, it also complements with one of the key priorities of the DENR Secretary that is to strengthen the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, said EMB-7 Director William Cuñado. He said the river rehabilitation project will soon become a model that may be replicated in other dirty water bodies in the region.

Through the river summit, participants will learn the advantages or benefits of the river systems and their services.

It also seeks to promote sustainable river advocacies and good governance, while the bigger programs are hoped to be mainstreamed to the local environment agenda.

The event is slated from November 22 to 24 and will be held at Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City.

The speakers, both local and foreign, will share their experiences, insights and best practices on raising awareness, sustainability, river management, governance, resources mobilization, disaster risk reduction, and infrastructure development, among others.

Among the plenary speakers invited are Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev, Russian ambassador to the Philippines; Joop Stoutjesdijk, irrigation consultant from the World Bank; Masato Morishita, acting president of Beautiful and Clean Murasaki River; Engr. Subijoy Dutta, founding director of Rivers of the World Foundation USA.

The other international speakers are Dr. Eva Abal, chief executive officer of International River Foundation; Engr. Sundaresan Subramanian, founder and president of ConsultSubi in Illinois, USA; Shahed Kayes, founding president of Subornogram Foundation.

From the academe are professors Rick Heikoop and Floris Boogard from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences; Dr. Chong Khai Lin from the Disaster Management Institute School of Technology in Malaysia; Professor Bartvan Bueren from Chenkung University of Taiwan; and Dr. Rajendra Kumar Isaac, professor of Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Sciences in India.

Local plenary speakers include Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman of the Climate Change Commission and Secretary Mark Villar of the Deparment of Public Works and Highways. Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, is also expected to attend.

“While we will be able to get a lot of resources in terms of ideas and strategies in rehabilitating, reviving sa Butuanon River, we do expect that those who will be coming to visit, will also be able to give some ideas,” said Mandaue Mayor Luigi Quisumbing.

Quisumbing said they have been coordinating with other cities in rehabilitating the river as its water flow streams from the uplands of Cebu City.

“This is not just a problem in Mandaue City. Most urbanized cities around the country have a pollution sa basura, pollutants and toxics in the area,” Quisumbing added.

The ongoing efforts to revive the 20-kilometer river might take long as it needs intervention from national and international agencies, according to Quisumbing, but the after-effects will be fruitful.

The city government is allocating a budget of P10 million for the summit, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

As part of Butuanon’s rehab, the city government has created a viewing deck there which will open on November 6.

“This will be finished on November 3 or 4,”  said Quisumbing, adding that the viewing deck, which is around 70 square meters, will be used as an avenue for research on how to rehabilitate the state of the river, which had been poorly maintained for decades.

The mayor added that he is thankful for the community and establishments near the river as they are cooperative with the city’s efforts to revive it.

Stanley Go, president of the Mandaue City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said that the business community supports the revival of the river, adding that their group is always conscious in making decisions involving the environment.

“Everybody’s working together to rehab the Butuanon River,” he said.

The first IRS was held in Iloilo City in 2012, followed by Marikina City in 2014, and Cagayan de Oro in 2016. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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