Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Environmental Loss in the Philippines

Blogger's Note: According to the World Bank, changes should be to save our natural resources. I think it should start within us, Filipinos. We must be responsible and conscious enough to end all destruction to our environment else we will not have any future.

RP loses P111B annually from environment destruction — WB
The Philippine STAR 07/19/2005

The Philippines is losing P111 billion annually from environment destruction, lost income/opportunity in the fisheries sector, and health expenses related to air pollution, according to a World Bank report.

The Philippine Environment Monitor 2004-Assessing Pro-gress said that the annual economic losses caused by water pollution were estimated at P67 billion ($1.3 billion) while lack of management of fisheries resources cost P23 billion ($420 million) annually in lost income.

Likewise, increased health costs of exposure to air pollution (particulate matter) in four urban centers alone are estimated to be over P21 billion ($400 million). World Bank environmental specialist and the report’s principal author Jitendra Shah said, "Forested areas in the country continue to be threatened by competing development claims of agriculture and urbanization.

The Philippines in fact has one of the lowest forest cover per capita in the world. As habitats shrink, biodiversity is increasingly endangered." "Coastal resources, especially coral reefs, of which over 90 percent are at high risk, mangroves, and sea-grasses face threats from coastal zone development, expanding aquaculture, and destructive fishing. Fisheries catch per-unit-of-effort has been declining steadily in many areas," he added.

The key challenges for the Philippines is to develop a stronger long-term national commitment to environmental protection to reverse degradation accompanied with greater public awareness and involvement to create political will. Then private sector participation for environmental services must increase as well as improved coordination and capacity to harmonize the decentralization process. The country must establish modern systems for monitoring, enforcement, and public disclosure to ensure compliance, and, it must streamline bureaucratic processes to encourage investment in natural resources. The report categorically states that the costs of environmental degradation in the Philippines was high.

Since 2000, the Philippines has adopted over-arching legislation aimed at improving air and water quality, and preserving precious, often-threatened, environmental resources. New environmental and economic policies have been put into place. In some areas, progress in environmental quality has been achieved. But actual change on the ground, measured by environmental indicators, has been slow and not yet sufficient to overcome years of neglect, haphazard policy-making, and weak local environmental management.

The report said that the Philippines is blessed with a rich diversity of natural resources, from forest reserves to coral reefs, to endemic types of plants and animals. Yet, population pressure along with long-term neglect of the environment have strained ecological systems. Better management of the environment would not only result in improved quality of life but could also result in higher economic growth. "Good environmental management can attract investments in key growth sectors.

The Philippines has great potential to expand tourism. But the tourism industry is very sensitive to effective management of the environment. In the mining industry, effective environmental management improves the investment climate and the support of the population for this very important industry," the World Bank report said. "Political will, stronger enforcement of laws, modern public institutions, and public participation can all play a part in improving the environment and tapping this potential for the Philippines."

The Philippine Environment Monitor (PEM) series presents an overview update of the status of the environment. The PEM 2004 updates progress in natural resources management and governance, biodiversity conservation, solid waste, air and water pollution control, and coastal and marine management, global programs and contributions of environmental champions. – TPT


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