Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Antonia Loyzaga underscored the importance of private sector collaboration in measures to protect and restore biodiversity during the COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal, Canada.

Loyzaga, who was designated by President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. as his representative and Head of the Philippine delegation to the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, served as one of the panelists in Conservation International’s event, “Innovations for a Nature Positive and Net Zero Future,” held on December 14. The Philippine delegation is composed of officials from the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, Permanent Mission to the UN, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Agriculture (DA), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and experts from civil society.

The DENR chief shared how the Philippines continues to advance and explore new ways to unlock finance for conservation and climate action through private sector investment.

According to Loyzaga, the traditional public sources of funding for biodiversity conservation are not sufficient and the private sector plays a significant role to complement these.

Loyzaga said the Philippines is focused on two general ways to encourage and enable private sector investment in addressing the biodiversity financing gap: adoption of a systemic, risk-based, and whole-of-society approach; and the creation of a sustainable finance ecosystem.

She said that a systemic, risk-based, and whole-of-society approach underlines that biodiversity, climate change, and sustainable development are inextricably linked.

“Over 50 percent of global gross domestic product is linked directly to nature, but public sector funds support over 80 percent of annual spending. This challenge must be owned by all of us,” Loyzaga stated.

“Each stakeholder – the whole of government, private sector, philanthropies, academia, non-government organizations, and communities – needs to contribute to our sustained action,” she added.

In line with this approach, Loyzaga said the DENR, in consultation with its stakeholders, has commenced the establishment of a national natural geospatial database that will support the development of science-informed baselines and strategies for the environment.

She also said that the Philippines is espousing direct targeted engagement to develop partnerships with the private sector into enterprise risk management, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and operations.

Loyzaga said efforts are underway to institutionalize ESG reporting as a requirement within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). ESG reporting is currently voluntary in the Philippines.

She said that debt-for-nature agreements are being implemented and the offset agreements with Conservation International and consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) are being finalized to enable the identification and valuation of natural resources and ecosystem services. This in turn will provide P&G opportunities to reach net zero by 2050.

As for the construction of a sustainable finance ecosystem, Loyzaga shared that the Philippine Department of Finance (DOF) has already established a Sustainable Finance Roadmap.

This, she said, strengthened the synergies between DOF, SEC, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in enabling private financial institutions to issue green, development and social bonds, and support projects that contribute to the just energy transition. ###