Former Philippine President Fidel V Ramos (left) gestures as he speaks on the
need to protect our oceans, seas and bodies of water at the Global Conference
Oceans Connections. – Photo courtesy of IISD
THE protection of our oceans, seas, bodies of water and coastal communities is a necessary act of survival.
But the rewards will be great, and among them will be the “awesome sight of friendly whale sharks feeding on plankton close to sprawling mangroves and ebony nights lighted up by fireflies”.
This was stressed by former president Fidel V Ramos in a speech delivered at the recent Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections (GLOC) at EDSA Shangri-La Plaza, in Mandaluyong City.
Ramos said the 2006 Beijing Conference shifted the strategic approach to saving our ocean environment from international to national and local-level initiatives.
“It made us realize that global threats to the environment impacts are best confronted by local actions – by the initiatives of people on the ground – people who know the problems best and whose lives the threat will affect most gravely,” he said.
Ramos said that in this overall approach, local government units (LGUs) have a key role – in regulating the extraction of coastal resources and in enforcing environmental laws.
He said that the Philippines, as an archipelagic state, has a crucial stake in the future of coastal communities.
“Our archipelago’s vast coastal and marine areas are among the richest and most biologically diverse in the world.
“But recent times, population growth, internal migration and climate change have exerted tremendous pressures on the carrying capacity of our 1,107 islands.
“They are threatened with pollution and environmental degradation, the deterioration of water quality, the destruction of fragile marine habitats and the extinction of species.
Stressing that the Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquakes, storms, floods and droughts, he said, “these natural hazards are compounded by manmade ecological disasters – among them atmospheric pollution, deforestation, mindless land use and indiscriminate mining activities”.
He said that the GLOC – a two-day gathering of scientists, experts, policy makers and NGOS – was meant to precede a third intergovernmental review that will take place in Rio de Janeiro this year.
A “Manila Declaration” to be issued from this conference will provide inputs for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil.
Output from this meet will be used as recommendations for the Third Inter-Governmental Review, and as platforms for mainstreaming the Global Program of Action (GPA) for the protection of marine environment from land-based activities.
The GLOC conference was structured around the proposed priority themes for GPA – water quality (nutrients and wastewater), marine litter and integrated coastal zone management at regional, national and sub-national levels.
n -- AP Hernandez