By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for an honest-to-goodness natural resource and environmental accounting system to enable the agency to come up with specific policies and programs consistent with the sustainable integrated area development (SIAD) approach.
DENR Undersecretary for International Affairs and Foreign-assisted Programs Jonas Leones defines SIAD as a strategy that “weaves environmental considerations with social justice and human development,” examples of which are ecotourism and agro-forestry.
Through SIAD, the DENR will create “mini-economic zones” that can generate employment, livelihood, and income-generating activities in communities where they operate, making it a way better alternative to destructive mining.
“At the DENR, we endeavor to achieve social justice by ensuring the integrity of our ecosystems on which local communities depend for food and livelihood,” Leones said.
Leones also said it is about time “we account and minimize the depletion of our wealth, especially when it does not benefit our people.”
The environment official issued the statement as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) held last week a two-day national conference on National Capital Accounting (NCA), which served as the culminating activity of the World Bank-funded Philippine Wealth Accounting for the Valuation of Ecosystems Services or Phil-WAVES project.
With the theme “Accounting Nature, Capitalizing Partnerships for the Future,” the NCA conference was held at the Hotel Marco Polo Ortigas in Pasig City from March 30 to 31.
The conference came amid a government campaign against irresponsible mining, highlighted by an industry-wide audit that resulted in the closure and suspension of mining operations due to alleged environmental violations.
According to Leones, the forum served as an opportunity for the DENR to promote SIAD through “providing a deeper appreciation and understanding of taking into account the value of our natural resources.”
At the same time, Leones said the implementation of Phil-WAVES would enable policymakers to come up with informed policies based on generated data regarding the monetary values of natural capital and ecosystem services.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia welcomed the heads and representatives of various departments and partner agencies to the conference designed to stir greater interest on NCA and mainstream it in the development agenda of the government.
NCA is the process of calculating the total stocks and flows of natural resources and services in a given ecosystem or region. The accounting for such goods may occur in physical or monetary terms.
This process can subsequently inform government, corporate and consumer decision-making as each relates to the use or consumption of natural resources and land, and sustainable behavior.
The Philippines is one of the eight countries implementing WAVES, a global partnership that aims to promote sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are mainstreamed in development planning and national economic accounts.
Other countries implementing the project are Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Rwanda.