DENR and UNDP seal the partnership with the Province of Negros Oriental to mobilize finance for nature with support from the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN)
Finance for Nature is Underway for Negros Oriental
September 20, 2023
Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, 18 September 2023 – Negros Oriental Governor Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarria, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and concurrent Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau Marcial Amaro, Jr., DENR Regional Executive Director Paquito Melicor, Jr., and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will pave the way to unlocking unconventional sources of finance for the sustainable protection and conservation of the province’s biodiversity.
“Through this MOU, we seek to fortify our conservation efforts with sustainable financial mechanisms,” said Governor Sagarbarria. “Together, we will build a legacy of harmony between man and nature, a testimony to the portent power of unity in service of life and biodiversity”, Governor Sagarbarria added.
Unlocking funds for the conservation of Negros Oriental’s biodiversity will involve identifying, accessing, combining, and sequencing sources of biodiversity funding from national and sub-national government agencies, the citizenry, and the private sector. This initiative will be led by the UNDP Philippines and the DENR through the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) and the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PhilBio).
“We strongly support [Negros Oriental’s] vision for environmental conservation and sustainability, and we are ready to help you turn this vision to reality,” said UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Ramachandran.
Under the MOU, the UNDP and the DENR, through BIOFIN and PhilBio, will help Negros Oriental lobby for the inclusion of the province’s biodiversity program priorities into the plans of key national government agencies, regional councils, and other relevant actors. Another finance solution that will be implemented is the generation of revenues through ecotourism by piloting an ecological fee for visitors of the province. Furthermore, assistance will be provided to access the trust fund created under the Energy Regulation 1-94 program, which intends to recompensate for the contribution made by the communities hosting energy resources and/or energy generating facilities.
To commemorate the signing of the landmark MOU, a tree planting activity was held at the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol led by the Assistant Provincial Administrator Ryan Buenavista, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Ramachandran and DENR Asec. Amaro, together with Director Al Orolfo of DENR-FASPS, PhilBio Executive Director Lisa Paguntalan and representatives of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Provincial Attorney’s Office. A total of 10 seedlings of white Lauan, Narra, Siar, Yakal, and Bani seedlings were planted.
“We, at the DENR, are open to forging partnership and unlocking opportunities to close the gap required to achieve the PBSAP implementation costs," said DENR Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and concurrent BMB Director Marcial Amaro, Jr.
Present in 41 countries, BIOFIN contributes to closing the financing gap for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity by generating revenues, realigning current expenditures, avoiding future expenditures, and delivering biodiversity management efforts more effectively.
“The BIOFIN Global team is excited to see the outcomes of this partnership with Negros Oriental,” said Onno van den Heuvel BIOFIN Global Program Manager. “I am certain that the finance solutions will mobilize the financing needed to augment the province’s budget for biodiversity conservation and that this will be among the good practices that other BIOFIN countries can replicate,’ added Van den Heuvel.
In the Philippines, BIOFIN is working with the DENR to finance the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), the country’s roadmap to conserving its biodiversity. The PBSAP implementation costs PHP 24 billion per year or a total of PHP 334 billion (low estimate of USD 7.4 billion) from 2015 to 2028. However, public expenditure was estimated at only PHP 4.9 billion per year (USD 110 million), leaving an annual gap of almost PHP 19 billion (USD 349 million). Presently, several finance solutions to address this gap were identified and are being piloted by BIOFIN, including mainstreaming biodiversity into local plans and programs.
BIOFIN has been working with local government units (LGUs) since 2016 to mainstream biodiversity in local plans and programs, thus ensuring regular funding. The Negros Island Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NIBSAP), crafted in 2017, is the key document that guides the biodiversity conservation efforts of the Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental provinces. Since its preparation in 2017, the province of Negros Oriental has successfully costed its priority biodiversity programs amounting to PHP 354 million from 2020 to 2028.
Contact Information: Angelique Ogena, BIOFIN Philippines Communications Officer, email@example.com
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