Innovative ideas and experiences in local governance of natural resources and environment management was the focus of the 2nd International Conference on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM 2019).
The conference, held on Nov. 20-22 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila, featured not only distinguished speaker-experts on various ecosystems, but also local government units (LGUs) that exhibit best practices in improving the environment, livelihood, and communities through notable governance.
Hailed as LGU champions were the municipalities of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte; San Gabriel, La Union; Piddig, Ilocos Norte; and La Libertad, Negros Oriental.
They were recognized for their distinct and innovative programs and activities that paved the way toward uplifting the health, wealth, and well-being of their constituents and the environment.
The vice mayor of one of the LGU champions, Hon. Alfredo M. Coro II of Del Carmen town, served as a plenary speaker and shared to the participants how his municipality managed its protected landscapes and seascapes.
Del Carmen is situated in Siargao Islands and is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country.
Hon. Coro, a UPLB alumnus and former mayor said that the LGU implements a people-centered, science-based approach for its nine-year governance process that went through three steps.
First is governance evolution to involve more stakeholders committed to care for their natural resources. Second is governance innovation, which ensures that people will listen to and trust the LGU in its environmental protection program. Third is governance transformation, aimed at sustaining the changes in the way things are being done to balance conservation and economic growth.
The other plenary speakers expounded on the management of interconnected ecosystems.
Dr. Sven Günter, head of Working Forestry Worldwide, Thünen Institute of International Forestry and Forest Economics in Hamburg, Germany, talked about science-based solutions for sustainable policies in tropical forest landscapes.
He shared to the audience the initial results of the La ForeT project in Ecuador, Zambia, and the Philippines, which uses landscape approaches to integrate the needs of multiple stakeholders across different land areas.
Dr. Candido A. Cabrido, Jr., consultant of the Board of Trustees of the Malampaya Foundation, Inc., discussed the importance of mainstreaming sustainable land management (SLM) in local governance. He talked about the dynamics of land use conversion in the rural-urban setting in a watershed landscape, and its implications in agriculture and agroforestry.
Academician Jurgenne Primavera, chief mangrove scientific advisor at the Zoological Society of London, presented the role of local governance in mangroves and beach forest conservation and rehabilitation.
Primavera said that poor enforcement of pro-mangrove laws is negatively affecting the mangroves in the country. She further said that various large-scale seafront planting activities using the correct species could have been done to avoid waste of efforts and resources. Moreover, she emphasized the urgency of putting science into policies on mangrove and beach forest conservation.
Science-based decision was also highlighted in the talk of Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, executive director of the UP Resilience Institute. Dr. Lagmay discussed the ecosystem-based approach in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and the importance of multi-scenario hazard maps and probabilistic risk assessment in community planning.
For his part, Prof. Masahisa Nakamura, vice president of the International Lake Environment Committee in Japan, highlighted the need to mainstream national and transboundary lakes and reservoirs in the global water agenda. He introduced the concept of Integrated Lake Basin Management as a framework for the gradual improvement of basin governance.
Initiatives in managing the country’s largest lake, Laguna de Bay, were also presented in the talk of Adelina Santos-Borja, manager at the Laguna Lake Development Authority. She cited how LLDA taps communities as partners and co-managers of the lake ecosystem.
Around 300 guests and participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Bangladesh, Iran, Germany, Vietnam, and USA took part in the event.
Almost 120 papers were presented in the plenary, parallel, and poster sessions on lakes and river basins, landscapes and seascapes, small islands, and rural-urban areas and their interrelationships.
The conference theme was “Strengthening local governance for sustainable integrated natural resources and environment management.”
INREM 2019 featured three special sessions. First was the session facilitated by La ForeT in the Tropics that focused on governance, forest, and people. Second was the session of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that showcased lessons and experiences from the operations of the River Basin Central Office and its Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Project.
The last was the Undergraduate Student Research, which featured nine completed and ongoing researches and field works of UPLB students, and from which three Best Undergraduate INREM researches were named.
Awarded as 1st placer was Joseph Christian Dolores for his paper on “Species-site suitability assessment of selected native species in Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed using GIS.”
The 2nd placer was Arianne Louise Arena for “Usability and acceptability of the LAWIN application for forest and biodiversity protection among forest patrollers in CALABARZON” and the 3rd placer was Nicole Alexia Veridiano for “Risk attitudes and perceptions on extreme weather events of small-scale farmers in Siniloan, Laguna, Philippines.”
Present during the conference were Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, executive vice president of UP, Dr. Rex B. Demafelis, vice chancellor for research and extension of UPLB, and Dr. Juan M. Pulhin, chair of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center on INREM, the conference’s main organizer. (Aileen C. Simondac-Peria)