Press Release
October 11, 2018

Villar urges global action for biodiversity security

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar has called for more discussions and greater cooperation among countries towards securing biodiversity and protection and conservation of the environment as she stressed the correlation between climate change and the global goal of food security.

In a speech before participants attending a series of dialogues on biological diversity in the country, Villar stressed that "climate change is not just an environmental issue or concern. It also affects agriculture and other sectors."

"As an agricultural country, the Philippines loses a lot from extreme effects of climate change and the onslaught of environmental disasters," she said, adding: "There is a direct correlation between food security and environment protection considering that our country is frequently affected by extreme weather disturbances such as stronger typhoons, draughts, El Nino/La Nina etc."

She cited the country's experience when super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit Tacloban City in November 2013. The damage to agriculture caused by the typhoon reached over P90 billion (or about US$2 billion), affecting 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands, with an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of crops lost.

The losses, she pointed out, was vast because the typhoon struck between two planting seasons. "It disrupted food supply (in the province) during that time," she said.

But Villar said the concern about food security is not limited to the Philippines. "There is a serious concern about food security worldwide. Based on estimates, there is a need to increase food production by over 60 per cent to meet the expected global demand from a population of over nine billion in 2050. Thus, climate change is both an environmental and agricultural concern for all of us," she said.

The Senate's ratification of the country's concurrence in the Paris Agreement in 2017 was a major step towards addressing both climate change and agricultural concerns.

"I said it is a victory for the agriculture sector, the sector most affected by climate change. By joining the global action to cut carbon emissions, we are able to address agricultural problems which continue to hinder our farmers' productivity and our food security goals," Villar said.

Villar said the Philippines has taken great strides to join global efforts to protect bio-diversity, taking pride in her personal efforts to spearhead community actions to protect and conserve the environment.

She cited the successful story of the Las Piñas - Parañaque Wetland Park, a combination of natural wonders in one area -- a bird sanctuary, wetland, and mangrove forest.

Las Piñas - Parañaque Wetland Park is a 175-hectare area considered as the "last coastal frontier" or "last natural bastion in Metro Manila". It was declared as a critical habitat in 2007 by Presidential Proclamation No. 1412, and has been named the sixth Philippine site in the Ramsar List of "Wetlands of International Importance" in March 15, 2013. It is the only one in the metropolis.

"What we have done and continue to do here at Las Piñas - Parañaque Wetland Park, I can say, is a good working example of how biodiversity protection or conservation of landscapes and seascapes can help communities such as fisherfolks who get their daily sustenance and livelihood from Las Piñas - Parañaque Wetland Park and the nearby barangays, which are protected by the threat of flooding. And now as a Wetland Park, it offers sustainable tourism opportunities as well," Villar said.

She added: "We envision it to be the premiere learning environment for urban wetlands in the Philippines. We are doing our best also to make it a model of sustainable eco-tourism at its best. We hold regular environment-related events and activities here including coastal cleanups, planting of mangroves and other native trees, birdwatching among others."

Villar stressed that "environmental protection in all aspect is something that we take seriously or we MUST take seriously because our people depend on natural resources for food and income. Of course, preventing biodiversity loss and conservation of landscapes and seascapes are included in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, particularly No. 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss."

The senator encouraged open discussions and dialogues, as well as collaborations and cooperation between and among, nations on the issue of biodiversity, climate change and environment protection.

"At the end of the day, we are all in these together. It is for our own collective good to make good in these very important matters," she said.

Villar gave the participants a tour of the Las Piñas - Parañaque Wetland Park. The participants are in the country on the invitation of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), which is hosting the Asia Multi-Actor Dialogue Seminars to Build Social-ecological Resilience through the Incorporation of Ecosystem-based Solutions in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

The series of dialogues was conducted by the ACB in cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SwedBio).

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