MANILA – The United States government announced Tuesday a five-year biodiversity project worth PHP1.1 billion or around USD22 million to combat environmental crimes and help the country sustainably manage its natural resources.
The Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project, to be implemented by RTI International, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture.
“Effective conservation management and measurement of the value of natural resources contribute to the Philippines’ economic development and environmental resilience,” Lawrence Hardy II, Mission Director of USAID Philippines, said.
“Through SIBOL, USAID is pleased to support the Philippines’ efforts to conserve the country’s rich biodiversity while improving the livelihoods of Filipinos whose incomes depend upon these natural resources,” he added.
The project seeks to improve natural resource governance and stimulate public and private investments. And among the sites it aims to protect is the Cleopatra’s Needle in Puerto Princesa.
DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Juan Miguel Cuna welcomed the partnership, saying that ensuring ecosystem integrity is among the key priorities of the government.
“We look forward to partnering with USAID in advancing our goals of environmental sustainability and strengthening DENR’s capacity to combat environmental criminals, enhance the adaptive capacities of communities against natural disasters, as well as improve the economic conditions of affected local people,” he said.
The Center for Conservation Innovations, Forest Foundation Philippines, Internews, Zoological Society of London, and the Resources, Environment, and Economics Center for Studies, comprise the consortium partnering with RTI.
Since 2014, USAID has provided more than PHP5 billion or over USD100 million to assist the Philippines to protect its landscapes and seascapes. (PNA)