Legarda Renews Commitment to Biodiversity Conservation

May 21, 2014

In time for the International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22), Senator Loren Legarda renewed her commitment to the protection of biodiversity, climate change adaptation and sustainable development at the Launch of the Fifth Operational Phase of the Global Economic Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP-5) in the Philippines.


The GEF-Small Grants Programme provides grants of up to US$50,000  to community-based organizations for biodiversity conservation projects. The Project Document for its Fifth Operational Phase was signed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last December 2012.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, reiterated the Philippines’ status as one of the megadiverse countries, a group of nations hosting about 70-80% of the world’s plant and animal species. The country also has one of the highest rates of discovery of new species in the world.


“These numbers, however, should not give us a false sense of complacency. Great challenges face us in the task of protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity,” said Legarda in her keynote speech today.


Legarda noted climate change as one of the more pressing obstacles to biodiversity conservation. “Among the impacts of climate change are the loss of thousands of species and changes in natural ecosystems. The rise in average global temperatures render many species unable to quickly adapt to new conditions.”


The Senator also mentioned the threat to food security posed by the impending El Niño in June. “Prolonged drought would drastically cut down the production of local crops like rice, corn, sugar cane, vegetables and other agricultural products, and can also cause a decrease in fisheries yield.”


Legarda therefore called on Filipinos to end the exploitation of resources, collaborate with the government in resource management, and take interest in careers contributing to environmental preservation and biodiversity protection.


She stressed, “The solution begins with us.  If we want to avoid hunger, we need to stop our practice of exploiting the world’s resources as if there is no tomorrow.  The world is not just about us. There is a future and resources need to be protected and conserved for those who will be born beyond our time.”


Legarda cited pending measures in the Senate such as the Integrated Coastal Management Act and the National Land Use Act which promote the sustainability of marine and land resources, respectively. She likewise highlighted the identification of eco-towns under the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).


“As I have said before, the ground level work and the parallel environmental initiatives in the Senate may not get screaming headlines. But they represent big, determined steps for the Filipinos and the rich biodiversity we thrive in,” Legarda concluded.***