University of the Philippines Los Baños
Thursday, 24 November 2016 00:00

Stakeholders discuss policy suggestions for Laguna de Bay


Photo courtesy of Pol Veluz


“As most of you know, Laguna de Bay is a great ecological resource that unfortunately has been subjected to a number of unsustainable and destructive practices. It is important that we all do our part to reverse the damage done to this irreplaceable natural resource on which many communities rely for their livelihood.”

Thus said Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. in his message as he opened the second day of the Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines (LEAP): A Science and Policy Forum for a Sustainable Laguna Lake Management on Nov. 23 at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay City.

The LEAP Forum, which started on Nov. 22, was participated in by stakeholders from academe, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, government agencies, and the legislature.

The participants also took part in a policy workshop in which they discussed contributions and effects of agriculture, fisheries, human settlements, watershed, and ecotourism and institutional arrangements on the water quality of Laguna de Bay. They also identified the measures that have been put in place, and gaps and policy recommendations to improve the Lake’s water quality. The outputs of each group were presented towards the end of the Forum.

Dr. Klauss Schmitt, chief technical adviser of GIZ, commended the organizers for the Forum’s multi-stakeholder composition. He underscored its potential to address relevant issues, which he said could be replicated in other parts of the country. GIZ is one of UPLB’s partners in organizing the event.

Human resources, policies

Three technical presentations also highlighted the LEAP Forum’s second day. Dr. Koji Nakamura, professor at Japan’s Kanazawa University, emphasized the importance of capacitating the young generations in addressing environmental challenges.

He cited the Noto Satoyama Meister Training Program, a capacity building endeavor in Japan, which trains and educates the youth on biodiversity, farming and cultivation, management and information technology. These young fellows, called “meisters,” are expected to contribute to conserving biodiversity and making agriculture, forestry and fisheries environmentally friendly, among others.

Dr. Koji also attributed the United Nations’ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s (MEA) influence to the Japan Satoyama Satoumi Assessment, the latter being an endeavor in managing Japan’s unique landscapes and seascapes. MEA has also played a vital role in the LEAP Forum, as it is a primary reference for the research program where the Forum is a part of.

Dolores Nuevas, senior coordinator of the GIZ project “Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Mainstreaming in the Philippines,” discussed the role of EbA in developing relevant planning and policy processes; while Conrado Castillo, Jr., chief of staff of AKBAYAN Partylist Representative Tomasito Villarin, discussed House Bill 4359, which calls for the creation of the Laguna Lake Conservation Authority in replacement of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

The Forum is a part of the UP-funded Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Program entitled “Ten years after the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of Laguna de Bay:  towards a sustainable future,” implemented by the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and College of Forestry and Natural Resources, and UP Diliman National Institute of Geological Sciences.

The Forum was organized by the SESAM, National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), and Environmental Management Bureau. Various agencies under DOST, as well as the GIZ, also provided funds to organize it.

Present at the LEAP Forum were Dr. Decibel V. Faustino-Eslava, dean of SESAM and program co-leader; Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, professor at SESAM and program leader; and deans of other UPLB colleges, namely: Dr. Felino P. Lansigan of the College of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Raden G. Piadozo of the College of Human Ecology.

Also present were Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta, UP assistant vice president for academic affairs (research); Dr. Marieta B. Sumagaysay, executive director of NRCP; Sec. Nereus O. Acosta, general manager of LLDA; and Dr. Rodel T. Lasco, country coordinator of the World Agroforestry Centre. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)