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Legarda Shares PH Efforts to Promote Blue Economy

April 20, 2018

I had the privilege of being invited to speak during the tour de table of the World Bank’s high- level event, “Towards a Blue Economy: Concrete Actions for Addressing the Ocean Health,” where I shared with representatives of WB client and donor countries, the state of the 🇵🇭 marine #ecosystem & the steps undertaken by our gov’t to address this growing problem particularly marine pollution. While we have one of the world’s richest #marine ecosystems – being located in the the Coral Triangle housing what is considered the world’s center of the center of marine biodiversity, I shared the challenges that we face: only 1% of our coral reefs remains in excellent condition; our coastal cities and municipalities are threatened by creeping sea level rise; and Ph is one of the top sources of plastic trash dumped into the sea. 
Undeterred by these setbacks, I was pleased to share the strides that we have taken to address these such as the enactment of the Ecological Solid Waste Mgt Law which I authored, promoting a clean and healthy env’t through segregation of waste at source, recycling and composting; and the Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Program (SCREMP), a nat’l program on the protection and rehabilitation of coral reef ecosystems, among others. I also cited the 🇵🇭 government’s bold move to close down the world-famous #Boracay island for 6 months to rehabilitate the island and hopefully bring it back to its pristine state, which was lauded by Laura Tuck, World Bank VP for Sustainable Development, in her closing remarks.

I also shared our country’s accession through my chairmanship of the Comm on Foreign Relations to int’l agreements to protect our seas and our marine resources such as: The Agreement to Promote Compliance with Int’l Conservation and Mgt Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas; the Port State Measures Agreement targeting IUU fishing; the Int’l Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships; and the MARPOL Protocol.The future of our oceans, and that of us humans, relies on how much action we are willing to take today. A united front is our greatest weapon in our fight for a sustainable future. #WorldBank #WBGMeet

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Senator Loren Legarda today said that despite the challenges of being a developing archipelagic country with a hundred million population, the Philippines is carrying out efforts to move towards a blue economy.

At the High-Level event, “Towards a Blue Economy: Concrete Actions for Addressing the Ocean Health,” which is part of the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, Legarda shared the challenges and actions being done by the Philippine government to protect and rehabilitate the country’s marine ecosystems.

“The Philippines has one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems. It is located within the Coral Triangle and houses what is considered the world’s center of the center of marine biodiversity, the Verde Island Passage. Unfortunately, only one percent of coral reefs in our country remains in excellent condition; coastal cities and municipalities are threatened by creeping sea level rise; and we are one of the top sources of plastic trash dumped into the sea,” said Legarda.

The Senator said that what happened in Boracay island, considered as among the best beaches in the world, is an example of wanton disregard for our marine ecosystems.

She noted that around 17.5 million liters of wastewater is generated in Boracay island every day and only about half of which is treated properly, while the other half is discharged untreated. Moreover, 5 of the 9 wetland areas in the island have been encroached upon by various structures or establishments.

“The Philippine government has ordered the temporary closure of Boracay to be able to fully rehabilitate the island and hopefully bring it back to its pristine state, if this is at all possible,” said Legarda.

Laura Tuck, World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development, lauded the bold move of the Philippines to close an entire island for the protection and rehabilitation of its marine ecosystem.

Moreover, Legarda shared that as part of its commitment with the international community to protect marine ecosystems, the Philippines recently acceded to several treaties, such as the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas; the Port State Measures Agreement, which is the first binding international agreement to specifically target illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships; and the MARPOL Protocol, which prevents and minimizes pollution from ships by setting limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts, which are harmful to human health, and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances.

On the country level, Legarda said that the Philippine government implements the Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Program (SCREMP), a national program on the protection and rehabilitation of coral reef ecosystems through a strategic, sustainable and ecosystem-based approach.

The Philippines also has the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, authored by Legarda, which promotes a clean and healthy environment through segregation of waste at source, recycling and composting.

Legarda also said that she will file measures to promote a circular economy, in which resources are used for as long as possible and the use of non-renewable resources is minimized, and to ban the use of microplastics.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), microplastics are small plastic pieces that can easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean, posing threat to the aquatic life and human health. Microbeads is a type of microplastic that is added as exfoliants to cleansers, toothpaste, beauty products, and shampoo.

USA already has a Microbead-Free Waters Act, Canada has banned products with plastic microbeads, and the United Kingdom has officially banned the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.

“A ban on microplastics and single-use plastics is a measure that I wish to propose in the Philippine Senate. We need to reduce wastage and veer away from a throwaway culture, because the waste that we produce, unless minimized and managed properly, will find its way into our oceans and will affect both marine and human life,” Legarda concluded.

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, is the Alternate Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 2018 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., USA.