MANILA, March 28 — The Philippines has been put in the international spotlight again after it bagged the prestigious United Nations (UN) Best Practices Award through the Sagip Ilog program of the Villar Foundation.
Villar Foundations founding chairman Senator Manny Villar and wife Cynthia, former congresswoman of the lone district of Las Pinas and prime mover of Sagip Ilog, personally received the award in Zaragosa, Spain during a special ceremony on World Water Day on March 22. They were awarded for the category Best Water Management Practices.
Through the years of involvement in community building and the propagation of environmental projects, one major learning is that for the programs to be sustainable and successful, it should engage residents of the community and the best way to get them involved is to allow them to earn livelihood fromtheir efforts, said Cynthia Villar, who has devoted more than nine years in developing the green social enterprise.
The UN body recognized Villars foundation on its efforts to protect water resources in the country and at the same time provide livelihood to hundreds of needy Filipinos.
The environment program bested 38 other countries for the award as it met the criteria of substantially contributing to the living environment on a sustainable basis, especially the living condition of the poorest and most disadvantaged groups, institutional frameworks and the sustainable management of water.
The UN award-giving body promotes efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water related issues by 2015 through recognition of outstanding best practices that can ensure the long term sustainable management of water resources and contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets. This year, the award focused on the topic Urban Water Management, the primary thrust of the Sagip Ilog program.
Sagip Ilog gained international recognition in 2006, when it was conferred the Best Practices Award for its outstanding contribution towards the living environment by the UN Human Settlement Program and the Dubai International Award.
Since then, the program earned several more prestigious tributes from international award-giving groups including AOIKOS International Award for Social Enterprise Best Practice presented by the Green Organization.
The program of the foundation is more than just a river rehabilitation program, it is an integrated system accompanied with several livelihood programs.
The program focused at cleaning the Las Pinas-Zapote River and addressed the worsening flood problem, which had been attributed to accumulated garbage as well as proliferation of water hyacinths (water lilies) that clogged waterways.
As year passed, the program evolved into various comprehensive green social enterprises such as water hyacinth weaving, handloom blanket weaving and the coconut coir and peat enterprise.
The green social enterprises encompass environmental protection, waste management, livelihood opportunities and even cultural promotion through the resulting products such as handicrafts from water lilies and lanterns from bamboo. (PNA)