As a member-party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Philippines regularly submits its National Report to the CBD. The National Report summarizes measures that have been undertaken to implement the Convention and its objectives of conserving biological diversity, sustaining the use of its components, and sharing benefits fairly and equitably.
The Fourth National Report focuses on assessing the country’s progress towards meeting the 2010 biodiversity target: “Achieving by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth”.
Following the format and guidelines provided by the CBD in assessing progress and preparing this Report, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) -Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) convened five (5) consultations/workshops participated by multistakeholder groups representing national and local governments, academic and research institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector. These consultations/workshops steered discourse and appreciation of the current state of the country’s biological diversity, and the existing policy and institutional structures and mechanisms that help ensure that these resources are used, developed, and managed sustainably.
Assessing the country’s progress towards meeting the 2010 biodiversity target has been a challenging task in the absence of nationally agreed baselines, targets and indicators. Even more challenging is the fact that the Fourth National Report requires reporting of outcomes and impacts, but most of the data gathered covering the reporting period from mid-2005 to mid-2008, and until early 2009, only report outputs.
Thematic reviews indicate a pattern of continuing degradation of biological diversity with some significant gains in specific areas. Some progress and contributions have been made in protecting components of biological diversity; in promoting sustainable use; in addressing threats, in maintaining goods and services from biodiversity to support human well-being; in protecting traditional knowledge, innovations and practices; in ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources; and, in ensuring provision of adequate resources. These are evident in the increases in the proportion of forest cover, terrestrial protected areas, and mangrove cover to total land area, and in the increases in the size, number and geographic distribution of marine protected areas. These are also manifested in several species and habitat conservation programs, in the development of integrated development and management plans, in improved law enforcement efforts, and in increased production, livelihood opportunities and income derived from the use of biodiversity.
The lessons in the use of the ecosystems approach are best illustrated in a local level rather than a national scale and using appropriate units of management and analysis, in most cases integrated watershed, river basin and coastal management approach. These approaches also incorporate different elements that foster sustainability in programs and projects such as institutions, partnerships and alliances and innovative financing.
At present, many of the biodiversity-related conservation efforts are fragmented and uncoordinated, even within landscapes, seascapes and within and among administrative regions. This makes it doubly difficult to assess overall impact of actions taken. However, across ecosystems, the management approach for environment and natural resources management, including biodiversity conservation, is gradually shifting from sectoral to holistic. Success stories show potentials for upscaling, however, the archipelagic and multi-cultural condition of the country require innovative and flexible ways for replication and diverse management strategies and modes of governance.
Future priorities for action have been identified and categorized into four areas: policy; information, education and communication; capacity building; and, innovative financing. The need to ensure synergy, complementation and harmonization between and among policies, plans and programs in the landscape, seascape and/or political units was emphasized in order to maximize resources and improve governance. So was the need to set national baselines, measurable targets and indicators to assess progress towards meeting, not necessarily the 2010 biodiversity goal, but to guide national and local decision-making and to prepare for the next CBD and MDG Reports.
The need to inform, educate and communicate was also put across. Stakeholders recognized the necessity of a biodiversity information system that will facilitate information sharing and decision making. Formal and non-formal modes of education were also seen as effective tools to increase knowledge and understanding of biodiversity.
Finally, the need to strengthen capacities of local government units was seen as key to protecting biodiversity, promoting sustainable use and ensuring equitable benefits since they are at the forefront of local action. However, there was also recognition that these tasks cannot be borne by a single agency and that the capacities of other key actors such as civil society organizations, the business sector and local communities should also be built to enable strong alliances and partnerships. Innovative financing was also viewed as crucial to sustain efforts on biodiversity conservation.