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Geothermal firm, EDC, shares contributions to PHL's green economy

DUMAGUETE CITY, Sept. 29 — Global environmental network, 350.org, has tapped Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the country’s geothermal giant, to share with their members how geothermal energy and their sustainability program can help the Philippines move towards a green economy.

The company was invited to talk about its experience in 350.org’s “Moving Planet” conference here recently at the Dumaguete City Convention Center. About 150 of its local members were present in this event, led by its Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Reinero S. Medrano, who presented EDC’s Community Partnerships program for its host communities as well as its BINHI greening legacy program in areas where it operates. These comprise the company’s sustainability program.

“EDC believes that sustainability could only be achieved if the company gives equal attention to environmental and social prosperity as it profits,” said Medrano.

BINHI is EDC’s landmark reforestation program that focuses on vanishing premium indigenous tree species. It has allowed the company to implement its own Payments for Environmental Services (PES) on a broader scale through the environment-related jobs generated for host communities, according to the EDC executive. “We are now on year two of this 10-year program.”

In 2010, EDC was able to plant over 772,591 BINHI trees within a total combined area of 1,071 hectares across its project sites, including Southern and Northern Negros. Through BINHI, the company’s carbon sequestration is now estimated at 137,000 tons per year.

“We expect to increase our carbon sequestration as we plant more trees, especially now that BINHI is already a strategic program under the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

EDC signed a MOA with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje last May 13 to be the first private partner of the government in the NGP in its various sites in the country.

"We likewise project a higher income for our host communities as they continue to be our partners in environmental enhancement and protection,” said Medrano.

EDC’s PES is a huge part of its CSR program. In 2010, its host communities earned almost P27 million for working on the company’s BINHI project. This is apart from the other benefits that they get from the company’s CSR investments that also focus on their wellness, education and livelihood, the company said in a press statement.

“This is EDC’s contribution to the greening of our economy,” said Medrano. Through BINHI, the DENR and EDC will ensure the implementation of a systematic, sustainable, and meaningful reforestation program in EDC’s renewable project locations as well as in areas allocated by the DENR.

Under the partnership agreement, the DENR and EDC will establish and maintain a seed bank and an arboretum of threatened species; develop a documentation mechanism or databank through an interactive website, tree certification, plantation registry and maps; make available environmental and watershed management data that can be vital to the development of policies and guidelines for reforestation; and spearhead the information education and communication campaign with DENR to raise awareness on the two projects. (PNA) DCT/LAM/jfp/PR

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