The Office of the Presidential Advisor for Environmental Protection (OPAEP) together with Relief International-Enterprise Works Worldwide Philippines (RI-EWWP), conducted a National Forum of “Emerging Champions in the Promotion of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)” on November 13, 2014 at Malacanang Palace, Manila.
Experts, project implementers, and practitioners from various sectors in the industry gathered to share their own experiences, opinions, and ideas to better implement the PES as a stable and sustainable funding mechanism in the Philippines. A main goal of the Panel of Discussants was to have a common understanding amongst participants on the general concept of PES, and relevant policy and options for scaling up. Among the honored speakers were Dr. Urooj s. Malik, Chairman and CEO of Hineleban Foundation Inc. as a discussant and panel speaker, and Mr. Ed Bullecer, Director of External Relations of the Unifrutti Group of Companies (UGC).
The Forum opened with a welcome address by the former Senator Heherson Alvarez, Commissioner on the Climate Change Commission. The Senator emphasized the vital need for considering carbon sequestration in the design of PES programs. This was followed by a very informative overview of the state of forests in the Philippines by Mr. Raoul T. Geollegue of RI-EWWP. Mr. Geollgue also presented various PES schemes being practiced in other parts of the world notably in Costa Rica. When turn came to Mr. Ed Bullecer, he set forth on the Unifrutti PES experience, highlighting the ‘Sacred Customary Compact’ with the seven indigenous tribes of Bukidnon. He exhibited the importance of the Compact, and it’s instrumental usage in their PES operations.
Dr. Urooj Malik of Hineleban began the panel discussion by raising a few interesting questions, forging a steady path amongst participants as then presented a few issues and options on structuring a fund for PES.. He introduced key terms, and displayed factual statistics on the state of our rainforests, the degree of hunger in the Philippines, and the poverty incidences in Mindanao to help frame the discussions at the day long event.
Dr. Malik, supported by Mr. Bullecer, expounded on the way Hineleban is pursuing collaboration with stakeholders through a process of ‘Transformational Partnerships”. He explained how Hineleban’s role is to guide private sector initiatives for livelihood by facilitating trusted partnerships, linking the private sector to the various indigenous communities located in Mindanao. He gave the successful example of coffee as a model for which Hineleban facilitated processing right through the entire value chain, illustrating how livelihood programs for the communities can complement the rainforestation. PES is clearly needed for providing sustainable financing and for further expansion of projects and programs..
After many participants presented their knowledge and professional experience, the Forum came to a closing ceremony with Dr. Neric Acosta and affiliated partners. He ended the topic on a heartwarming note, and saying “Economy is just a subsidiary of ecology. Ecology is the real wealth.”
Dr. urooj s. Malik as Panel Discussant at the PES Forum, Malacanang Palace, Manila
Dr. Neric Acosta, Secretary/Special Assitant at the OPAEP during the closing ceremony
Mr. Ed Bullecer giving his presentation to the Forum
Datu Rio of Talaandig Tribe of Bukidnon giving his remarks and gratitude to all who participated and organizers of the Forum.