The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now ready to lead government efforts toward a shift to a green economy that values and protects the natural environment, and provides well-paying and decent jobs to local communities.
Secretary Gina Lopez recently issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-08 that contains the guidelines for just transition of the agency's programs and projects to "green economy models" or GEMs where community members create sustainable goods and services for the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.
"It is in taking care of the environment that all the Filipino people will truly benefit," Lopez said.
The environment chief strongly believes that shifting to green economy will create opportunities for inclusive growth, job creation and poverty reduction.
Lopez's new directive was pursuant to Republic Act No. 10771 or the Philippine Green Jobs Act of 2016, and her promise to move the DENR from a regulatory agency to a developmental one.
DAO 2017-08 aims to create viable community enterprises where households are the focal members and players in creating value-added environmental products and services, and accelerate the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems.
Among the development and rehabilitation activities to be undertaken under the GEMs are the Enhanced National Greening Program with focus on the expansion of bamboo and mangrove plantations, the biochar program, the Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystems Management Program, the Coastal and Marine Environment Program, and the National Ecosavers Program.
Other activities include ecotourism, mining rehabilitation, pollution mitigation and bioremediation, which is a natural technique in waste management that utilizes the organisms to remove pollutants from a contaminated site.
GEMs are open to all interested households located within and adjacent to existing and potential project sites, as well as organized community enterprises composed of grouped households who are interested in various development and rehabilitation projects of the DENR.
Under the GEMs, participant member households (PMHs) will get the chance to have tenurial rights and access to all DENR-controlled resource-based programs and projects.
The transition to GEMs has three main stages, namely: focus group discussions (FGDs) for community enterprise; legal organization of the community enterprise; and detailed but brief operating policies of the enterprise, including pricing, quality standards, handling, rejects and penalties.
Lopez said that through FGDs, PMHs will be able to discuss the process of "value adding chain" which, according to her, is the "method that the poor does not know how to do, and also the reason behind their poverty."
"Poverty is the reason why the environment is desecrated, and if we can invest in such a way that the community keeps the money, why not do it?" Lopez said. ###