The Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will host the Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connection (GLOC) and the 3rd Intergovernmental Review (IGR-3) on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities on January 23-27, 2012 at EDSA Shangri-la in Mandaluyong City.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the twin events offer an important opportunity for the country “to showcase our accomplishments, efforts and successes in protecting our environment, particularly our marine and coastal resources, which have been dubbed as the center of the center of marine biodiversity.”

“The hosting of these important events was offered to us by the United Nations Environment Programme sometime in March 2011, and we have accepted the offer because it provides us a good opportunity to showcase our accomplishments, efforts and successes in protecting our marine and coastal resources,” Paje said.

Approximately 500 delegates are expected to attend the conference consisting of 200 high level officials, including 40 environment ministers from different Asia-Pacific countries, and 300 local delegates from the Philippine government and non-governmental organizations. President Aquino has also been invited to keynote the event.

The delegates to the conference are expected to provide vital inputs to the forthcoming 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil (Rio+20) through a Manila Declaration.

“The ‘Manila Declaration’ will also be the perfect opportunity to symbolize the country’s support and commitment to the GPA, which can be considered a multilateral initiative to improve health, reduce poverty, and protect critical ecosystem services,” said Paje.

Some of the expected outcomes during the events are: update on the status of implementation of GPA-Marine at the global, regional and national levels; government commitments to develop their respective plans of action within four years; build new partnerships or collaborations focused on the GPA objectives; amendments to implementation mechanisms; commitment from donors to support GPA implementation; and increased awareness of emerging issues that threaten coastal and marine ecosystems.

The GPA has been described as the only global program to address interconnectivity among the freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. It was adopted by 108 governments and the European Commission in 1995 through a “Washington Declaration.” In the past 15 years, it has undergone two processes – the first in Montreal, Canada in 2001 and the second in Beijing, China in 2006.