Guimaras showcase best practices, culture at PNLG forum 2018

The province of Guimaras hosted the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments (PNLG) Forum in Andana Resort November 29-30.

Delegates from 50 member local government units (LGU) from 10 countries across the East Asia region converged in Guimaras to discuss the experiences and good practices in implementing plans and programs related to Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

The activity showcased trends in environmental governance and management practices. This also tracks the progress of the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Management Plan of member LGUs across East Asia, election of the new set of PNLG officers and launching of the second Guimaras State of the Coast (SOC) report.

On November 30, 2018 more than 400 delegates of the East Asian Congress conducted field visit in different Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Guimaras.

Guimaras is one of PEMSEA’s integrated coastal management (ICM) sites and the first province in the Philippines to implement the program.

The province featured its environmental initiatives and practices during the PNLG Forum, and showcased its culture and delicacies.

Hosting hundreds of delegates for this gathering is an honor for Guimarasnons according to Governor Samuel T. Gumarin.

Gumarin said that ICM plays as the key development strategy for the province to realize its vision of becoming the agri-eco tourism capital of Western Visayas are for the welfare of our constituents and for the province, contributing to the global ocean agenda targets,” Gumarin said.

The 2006 oil spill incident was a defining moment for Guimaras according to Gumarin that resulted to a positive outcome.

Guimaras also hosted the field visit of more than 400 delegates of the East Asian Seas Congress.

The places they visited includes the Pamanculan Fish Sanctuary, Tumalintinan Point Marine Protected Area, Wind Farm in San Lorenzo, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, Tan-Luc Marine Protected Area, Guisi Light House, Barangay Dolores Marine and Fish Haven, SEAFDEC, Jordan Marine Turtle Sanctuary, Igang Bay Marine Sanctuary and the Guimaras National Crop Research, Developmennt and Production Support Center.

INSPIRING MODEL

Hosting the PNLG Forum is fitting for the province of Guimaras who has been hailed by the organizers as a role model on the succesful implementation of ICM.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary for Field Operations – Visayas Marcial Amaro Jr. said that the recovery of the province from the catastrophic oil spill in 2006 is an inspiring model.

“In the Philippines, the example of Guimaras in recovering from a major oil spill a dozen years ago, provided an inspiring model,” Marcial said.

With its remarkable recovery, it is easy to forget the oil spill according to Mr. Makoto “Guimaras maybe known for the sweetest mangoes. I love mango very much. But it is also the form of caring and believing and people that we are in such beautiful surrounding. So, it is easy to forget the catastrophic oil spill that happened here in 2006. This is a world famous incident. The effect of that incident was so severe that the fishing activity was halted almost a year. But it was this disaster that brought about the partnership between Guimaras and PEMSEA,” according to Harunari.

Further, this underlines the importance of the work undertaken by PEMSEA as local governments are at the forefront of marine conservation.

“The story of Guimaras underscores how important our work. Local governments are at the forefront of marine conservation and important driving part for our targets. They are working hand in hand with the national government and international organization in attaining global treaties including Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations,” he added.

PNLG President Noraini Binti-Roslan, also lauded the efforts of the local officials of Guimaras to rise above the challenge.

“One can recognize sincere and effective governance when leaders find innovative solution to pressing concerns. As we can witness today, there is no sign of oil spill since 2016,” Binti-Roslan said.

FRONTLINERS

Binti-Roslan said that LGUs serve as the bridge that link the national government and the people in taking a collective action in the preservation of the coastal environment.

One of the achievements of PNLG according to Binti-Roslan is the utilization of the strength of the local governments in managing and implementing coastal programs.

“Local governments are in the frontlines in the fight against climate change and oceanic and coastal degradation. Local governments are the bridge between the national government and constituents and are able to articulate the capabilities of the community as well as rally people to its action. Real momentum can only happen when national and local governments work together. Tapping the strength of local governments in managing coastal program is one of the many achievements of PNLG that we should be proud of,” she added.

Fifty LGUs from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, Timor Leste, Thailand and Vietnam are now members of PNLG.

This expansion according to Binti-Roslan is a testament that the region recognizes the power of collaboration between local and national governments and the urgency to act against the looming threat of climate change.

Harunari added that the PNLG is at the forefront of achieving the target of PEMSEA that 25 percent of the coastline of East Asia will be covered by ICM program in 2021.

He also reiterated the commitment of PEMSEA to provide support, especially in giving technical assistance to PNLG members in the implementation of ICM programs.

PNLG is the crowned jewel of PEMSEA in the preservation of East Asian region coastal

MOVING FORWARD

Binti-Roslan also called on PNLG members to utilize the State of the Coast Report to track their progress on the implementation of coastal management programs.

SOC Report is an online reporting tool which also serves as a platform for PNLG members to share their knowledge.

During the forum, Guimaras also launched its second State of the Coast report.

Guimaras is the only member of PNLG who was able to develop the second SOC report highlighting the progress it made in the 10 years of ICM implementation, according to Nancy Bernas, senior country manager of the PEMSEA Resource Facility.

“State of the Coast reporting is a useful tool for reporting our progress in line with the PNLG members SDG commitments. It allows information to be consolidated among various sectors. It has to be regularly updated to maximize its usefulness and intended benefits,” Bernas said.

Bernas also lauded the province for already achieving its 2021 target that 2,672 hectares of its coastline already under protection with 12 Marine Protected Areas in the entire province that resulted to increase in coral covers and fish density.

PNLG will also release its annual newsletter starting 2019 to highlight the efforts and good practices on the ground of its members.

Binti-Roslan said that the PNLG has been successful in utilizing interventions and communities. We utilize interventions and innovations that have been proven successful such as ICM and expand them. In short, we care, we collaborate and we act,” she added.