The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has underscored the vital role that indigenous peoples (IPs) play in mitigating climate change impacts and managing solid waste in the Philippines.

“We are greatly aware that our IP brothers and sisters have a bigger part to play in helping us to combatting the effects of climate change and global warming, and even our increasing problems in managing our solid waste,” DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Juan Miguel Cuna said in a message read by DENR Central Luzon Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno, Jr., during the “Salugnayan DENR at Katutubong Aetas para sa Kalikasan” held in Porac, Pampanga, last December 7.

Cuna said the IPs, particularly the Aetas, have been an important part in the success of DENR programs, including the National Greening Program, the government’s flagship reforestation initiative that doubles as a poverty reduction measure.

“Who else would know about the right place to plant trees and the right time to do so? Of course, it is none other than our Aeta brothers and sisters who reside on the place itself,” Cuna added.

“Salugnayan” is a term derived from two Filipino words, salu-salo (gathering or coming together) and ugnayan (connect).

The event aimed to inculcate among Aetas the current updates on NGP, knowledge on climate change and solid waste management, and current issues and problems in environmental management.

Another important part of the event was the tree-planting activity conducted by local community leaders and DENR officials to symbolize their commitment to environmental protection.

The Salugnayan is a joint project of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Pampanga, DENR central office, local community leaders, and the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Council in the province. ###