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Choose your priorities, work together for biodiversity conservation, says WWF exec

DAVAO CITY, Nov. 25 — Choosing priorities and working together are two significant factors to achieve the goal of conserving biodiversity.

This was stressed by Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive officer and vice chairman of the board of the World Wide Fund-Philippines, before participants at the 1st Biodiversity Summit held Thursday at The Marco Polo, Davao.

The event was initiated by directly concerned public sectors spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and private sector, including the Davao Tourism Council, Davao Medical Society and Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII).

In Davao City, for instance, Tan singled out the priority of finalizing the land use plan and water plans as a priority that is instrumental to conserving the biodiversity of the city.

He also mentioned the importance of looking into solid waste management and transport as key to help conserve the biodiversity.

He said money and infrastructure are not enough to conserve the community’s biodiversity.

“You must be smart” in terms of identifying priorities and finding solutions in partnership between public and private sector, he added.

He likened Davao City to a city in Malaysia which is typhoon-free. There is no typhoon in that place of Malaysia, but there was a time it was hit by severe floods, massively destroying properties, establishments, and the like.

“Like Davao City, that place in Malaysia is typhoon-free, no storms,” he said.

He also mentioned the controversial aerial spray ban on banana plantations in Davao City which is strongly opposed by banana planters, specifically the Pilipino Banana Growers Export Association (PBGEA).

“Some support the aerial spraying but some do not, but you have to work together on what to do to resolve the issue,” Tan said.

He said looking at priorities and identifying what the government, private sector and people want for their city, town, province, or municipality is also a key factor to help conserve biodiversity.

“If you want to prioritize banana or mining industries, go, but you have to look into its benefits and disadvantages. You must choose your priorities, you cannot have everything,” he said.

The same is true with the problems confronting Mindanao’s biodiversity. He reiterated public-private partnership as well as the active participation of the people in identifying such problems.

“People are part of the problems but similarly, they are also part of the solution,” Tan said as he maintained the need to empower the people to participate in the drive of conserving biodiversity.

Meanwhile, DENR Regional Executive Director Jim Sapulna said the goal of the summit is to come up with an integrated resource management framework which the public and private sectors can work together in preserving the region’s biodiversity.

DENR Undersecretary Jeremias Dolino, for his part, said that most often, the biodiversity conservation is perceived as the sole responsibility of the government or public sector.

However, he pointed out that the extreme big role of the private sector in biodiversity conservation is overlooked most of the time.

“The private sector has an extremely great role in ensuring the sustainability and longevity of programs aimed towards conserving and protecting our rich biodiversity,” he said.

The public-private partnership could upshoot sustainable and more efficient biodiversity conservation efforts and programs, he said. (PNA) Judy G. Quiros/ldp/utb

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