The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Biodiversity Management Bureau, will hold back-to-back conferences aimed at empowering indigenous peoples (IPs) and local communities in conserving the country’s rich biological diversity.
Both the 2nd National ICCA Conference scheduled on October 21-22 and the National Conference on Local Conservation Areas (LCAs) set on October 23-24 will be held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Pasig City. ICCA stands for Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Conserved Areas.
The two meetings are organized by the BMB, together with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, Inc., the Protected Area Management Enhancement Project of the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project.
BMB Director Mundita Lim said the twin conferences recognize the important role of IPs and local communities in biodiversity protection and preservation.
The meetings, she added, would likewise help ensure full and just participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation activities.
“The conferences would highlight the need to conserve not only our natural resources especially within ancestral domains, but also the traditional and age-old practices of IPs that are worth emulating or replicating because they demonstrate a deep regard or respect for Mother Nature and what she has to offer,” Lim said.
The conference on ICCA, with a theme, “Pagpapalakas sa Tradisyunal na Pamamahala ng Lupaing Ninuno at Pangangalaga ng Samu’t Saring Buhay,” will bring together some 250 participants, including IP leaders from major island and ethno-linguistic groups, support organizations, government agencies, the academe, private sector and other entities supporting ICCAs.
Among those invited to deliver their messages are Chairperson Leonor Oralde-Quintayo of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., representing Congress.
ICCAs are territories that have been voluntarily conserved by IPs and local communities through effective means such as customary laws or traditional practices. These territories may be sacred spaces or ritual grounds, indigenous territories and cultural land and seascapes, wetlands and fishing grounds, migration routes of mobile IPs, among others.
The LCA conference, on the other hand, will feature local initiatives and experiences of selected local government units (LGUs) in environmental protection, particularly biodiversity conservation, with the theme: “Diversifying and Strengthening Participatory Governance in Biodiversity Conservation.”
Some 200 participants are expected for the conference, which is open to all LGUs as Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had earlier issued a nationwide invitation to all LGUs.
“The conference would hopefully inspire other LGUs as we pay tribute to progressive ones who have, with or without national government support, exercised good governance and successfully managed their resources, after recognizing the link between healthy ecosystems and local economic progress,” Lim said.
She added that participating LGUs can learn from the conference how to implement projects within their areas of jurisdiction, in compliance with the proposal of biodiversity conservation as a criterion for earning the DILG Seal of Good Governance.
Conference speakers include Senate environment committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda, and representatives from the DILG, Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture and the University of the Philippines.
Select LGU officials are also expected to discuss various topics during thematic workshops on emerging LCA approaches and models, achieving conservation benefits and sustainable financing.
LCAs are areas designated by LGUs for protection purposes, usually through local ordinances. These may be identified as habitats of unique or threatened species; natural ecosystems ideal for ecotourism purposes; areas highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as erosion or landslides; headwaters of local water districts; and remaining closed and regenerating natural forests.
The conferences’ co-convenors include the NCIP, Foundation for Philippine Environment, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, the Bukluran ng mga Katutubo para sa Pangangalaga ng Kalikasan ng Pilipinas, and the Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas for the ICCA Conference; and the DILG, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, DOT and Haribon Foundation for the LCA Conference.#