The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) committed to strengthen and expand collaboration with local government units (LGUs) in promoting environmental protection and working towards sustainable development after the DENR Visayas Multistakeholder Forum held in Iloilo City on January 18-19.

The two-day forum gathered together over 250 stakeholders during which local chief executives from the region shared best practices, contextualized solutions, and valuable insights on environmental protection and sustainable development.

During the plenary session for the local government sector, officials from the provinces of Iloilo and Samar, as well as the cities of Ormoc (Leyte), Bayawan (Negros Oriental), and Bago (Negros Occidental), presented their respective flagship environmental programs realized through collaboration with partner agencies, particularly the DENR.

The inputs and insights gathered from LGUs during the forum will be incorporated into the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Framework being drafted by the DENR.

This integrated framework will serve as the foundation for science-based, data-driven, and socially, politically, and culturally sensitive environmental policies and programs for the country.

DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations-Luzon, Visayas and Environment Juan Miguel T. Cuna said the consultation centered on the importance of inclusive and community-based programs to foster active involvement and promote ownership of projects with the LGUs’ constituents, as well as collaborative efforts with other sectors for inclusive and sustainable development.

Cuna said the session had provided the agency with important actionable recommendations that will aid in the DENR’s implementation of evidence-based and risk- and context-informed programs and policies for resilience.

Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez spoke about the National Resilience Council’s Adopt-A-City program whose transdisciplinary initiatives focused on social, ecological, and economic systems for environmental protection and disaster management and resilience in Ormoc City.

The Adopt-A-City program will serve as a model for the DENR’s ENR Framework and Project TRANSFORM (Transdisciplinary Approach for Resilience and Environmental Sustainability Through Multistakeholder Engagement), the newly launched venture of the DENR in partnership with various private and non-governmental groups to be spearheaded in the city.

Another noteworthy program is “Spark Samar” discussed by Samar Provincial Tourism Officer Marvin R. Piczon.

Spark Samar is the province’s tourism program that supports environmental sustainability, economic stability anchored on agro-forestry and fishery, socio-economic development, and disaster resiliency.

Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Officer Cesar Emmanuelle Buyco Jr. discussed the province’s greening and mangrove rehabilitation programs, the creation of the Iloilo Watershed Management Council, and local renewable energy policies.

Meanwhile, Bago City Mayor Nicholas M. Yulo showcased the city’s plans and programs on climate change, solid waste management, forest management, specific resource management and contingency, as well as its “Reviving the Majestic Bago River Watershed” program and environmental law enforcement efforts with the active participation of stakeholders.

Bayawan City’s best practices—which include its waste management and ecology center, fuelwood production in marginal and idle lands, and protection of its Bayawan Nature Reserve—were also presented by Mayor John “Jack” T. Raymond Jr.

During the session, the local chief executives called for a more vital linkage of the DENR and other agencies for environmental education and enforcement, sustainable forest and water management laws, and waste management technical support. ###