Philippines joins global celebration of Ozone Day

As part of the global celebration of International Ozone Day on September 16, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh will lead the ceremonial hand over of information kits on ozone protection to the selected high schools in Metro Manila at the DENR grounds in Quezon City.

With this year’s theme, Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On, the celebration seeks to galvanize all stakeholders to increase their efforts to address the challenges in phasing out ozone depleting substances.

“Strengthening the participation of the youth in protecting the ozone layer can be achieved by providing them readily available information. This continued partnership with the schools will help us develop not just green consumers but ecological citizens fighting their right to a healthy environment,” Teh said.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer is an environmental agreement among 196 countries which committed to reduce and eventually eliminate their production and consumptions of ODS (ozone depleting substances) such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC).

Teh said that HCFCs have always been considered as an interim solution to Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) Phase-out, because of their lower Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) which is between 5-10% when compared to CFCs. Both are used as cooling agent for refrigerators and air-conditioners, as blowing agent for foam, and as solvent. Both groups of chemicals are greenhouse gases which contribute to the climate change. HCFC is also used as fire extinguishing agent.

“Unfortunately, HCFC’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) is high (600-2,200 CO2-equivalent). That is why global efforts are being undertaken to phase it out,” she added.

Last August 6-8, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Philippine Ozone Desk (POD) has conducted sectoral consultations on the HCFC phaseout program. The project is a joint activity of the EMB-POD, the Government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO.)

This, Teh explained, is in preparation for the targeted 10% reduction in the importation of HCFC by January 1, 2015.

The Philippines already froze the level of importation of HCFCs since January 1, 2013.

“With the cooperation of everyone, we can ensure a smooth transition towards acceptable alternatives for HCFCs,” Teh said.

The Montreal Protocol is considered as the most successful international agreement to date because it is the only one that is ratified by all 196 countries of the world. The Protocol has been responsible for the 100-percent phase out of CFC production and consumption in the world. The Philippines signed the Protocol on Sept. 14, 1988 and ratified it on March 21, 1991.### 


DENR: PH committed to increasing public access to environmental information

The Philippines is working toward increasing public access to data and information that are crucial to policy- and decision-making and management of its vast natural and environmental resources.

This was the assurance made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the 2014 Asia-Pacific Regional Working Group on Environmental Information meeting, which was held September 1-3, 2014 in Mandaluyong City.

Manila played host to representatives from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives and Taiwan.

During the meeting, DENR Undersecretary Analiza Teh said that a comprehensive, trusted and timely environmental information is key to more effective environmental protection.

“Information has the power to change our lives. The more an individual is informed, the more he or she is equipped to play a meaningful role in protecting the environment for present and future generations. Improving public awareness and education remains a top priority,” Teh said.

She added: "The challenge is to provide an effective platform for the management of environmental information that the public can use with greater efficiency."

Presided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the annual meeting was attended by selected countries from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss commitments and willingness of governments to share environmental information to the public.

Environmental information and data are used for research purposes or to aid in policy and decision-making processes.

Participants gave updates on the environmental information systems in their respective countries, as well as the challenges confronting them.

The country's representative to the meeting, DENR Human Resource Development and Information Systems Assistant Secretary Bresilda Gervacio, reported on the different systems that the Philippine government uses in planning, monitoring, facilitating, permitting and licensing, and in enhancing public access to environmental information.

She discussed about the Environmental and Natural Resources (ENR) Statistics Information System, a web application that serves as an information bank on ENR facts and figures, allowing a qualitative analysis on the government’s performance on key ENR programs.

Gervacio also talked about the use of geotagging in monitoring the progress of the National Greening Program (NGP), the Aquino administration's flagship reforestation program that seeks to cover 1.5 million hectares with trees by 2016.

"This (geotagging) helps us when validating monitoring reports and eliminates possibilities of ghost plantations," she said, noting that the use of this latest technology has resulted in a more accurate and effective monitoring of NGP projects, including those in remote and conflict-affected areas.

During the meeting, the DENR disclosed that its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is currently upgrading all air quality monitoring stations in the country with equipment that can automatically generate ambient air data, which serves as basis for air pollution policies and programs.

The equipment can monitor finer particulate matter that has more adverse impact on human and environmental health.

The environment department also reported that the EMB will soon provide an online permitting system for services like waste registration, securing discharge permits, and application for environmental compliance certificates, as part of enhancing transparency and accessibility of public services within the agency.

The DENR is also set to launch a mobile application called "Alerto Pinoy," which would contain geohazard maps, alert warning and other advisories during disasters and calamities.

It is also a partner agency for the Philippine Geoportal, a web application that integrates geospatial data and services from all government agencies concerned with mapping. Standard multi-scale base maps used in the system serve as tools for planning, decision making and situational analysis especially in times of disaster. ### 


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