Six departments will meet tomorrow (April 15, 2011) for the 1st Consultative Summit on the National Greening Program (NGP) to prepare for the formal launch of the campaign to plant 1.5 billion trees until 2016.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the one-day summit, to be held at the Social Hall of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City, will also involve the civil society, academe, private sector and other stakeholders.

The six departments leading in the implementation of the NGP are the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD).

"The Summit is a high-level forum for all the stakeholders taking part in the National Greening Program from both the government and the private sector to address critical issues related to identifying opportunities for both sides to work closer and more efficiently not only to rehabilitate of our denuded upland areas but also reduce poverty, promote food security and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said Paje. President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 26 on February 24, 2011 and established the NGP as a national priority aimed not only to reforest 1.5 million hectares of land but also to promote a sustained environmental awareness campaign in the face of the deleterious effects of climate change.

Earlier, Mr. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 23 that banned logging in natural and residual forests nationwide.

DA Secretary Prospero Alcala and DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes will grace the occasion as keynote speakers while DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chairman Roque Agton, Jr. will give their statements of commitments to the program.

Specifically, the summit aims to: Get inputs on how to raise national awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the NGP; solicit commitments from all stakeholders identified in EO 26 in promoting the NGP; organize and build a network of NGP advocates from various sectors such as government line agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, civil society, academe and media, and set up the National Environment Stewardship Advisory Services (NESAS) which will lay down the groundwork for the advocacy and social mobilization activities and pave the way for establishing the Local Environment Stewardship Advisory Services (LESAS) at the regional level.

“The National Greening Program is the best way to imbue patriotism among our people,” said Paje, calling the program as homage to "Tahanan na Ating Lahi," which was culled from the patriotic oath of allegiance Panatang Makabayan. This call is consistent with President Aquino's pledge to nurture the country and environment.

The Summit comes three weeks to May 9, 2011, which is the launching of the NGP, referred to as the most comprehensive reforestation venture ever embarked on a national scale combining the resources and manpower of almost all national line agencies.

Paje, Alcala and De los Reyes are actually the key leaders of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), which was designed to make the vast countryside conducive to massive food production through cash crops and tree plantations and other agribusiness ventures. The NCI has been assigned the task of initiating, implementing and monitoring the NGP.

For his part, DENR Assistant Secretary Marlo Mendoza stressed the NGP is a comprehensive response to environmental degradation.

Mendoza said the NGP is an example of a doable public-private partnership (PPP) designed to protect not only the environment but also to imbue all citizens with a sense of civic duty and patriotism. He will present the NGP Framework during the summit.

Paje said the program will also harmonize the greening efforts of the private sector and civil society pursuant to the state policy “to pursue sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

To ensure the successful implementation of NGP, Paje said the program would be comprised of the following: Social mobilization, harmonization of initiatives, provision of incentives, and monitoring and management of database.