By Rjhay E. Laurea
MANILA — The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)— gave honor to public and private associations for their environmental initiatives at the 1st Game Changer Communities Award.
“Protecting the environment is always a shared responsibility. We are proud of the winners for their ingenuity in resolving challenging environmental and health concerns that impact their very own communities,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.
The award certifies individuals or groups with initiatives that are beyond the usual and not just business-as-usual approach when discussing the pressing issues on environmental management.
“A game-changer must showcase innovativeness, sustainability, and leave positive impacts to the environment and the community where they belong,” DENR-EMB Director William Cuñado said in his welcome message during the virtual awarding ceremony recently.
During the virtual event, three top winners and seven consolation prize winners were announced.
The first place was the San Carlos City Environment Management Office with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Lifestyle Change Project.
The ambition was used to promote behavioral change in the city’s residents towards environmental responsibility through effective communication and education.
The office also created an eco-center that will be a one-stop-shop disposal and recycling option for San Carlos City residents and businesses.
The eco-center has a state-of-the-art sanitary landfill for municipal solid waste, collected material recovery facility, composting facility, and wastewater treatment facility.
Second place was the Provincial Government of South Cotabato with its South Cotabato Health Care Waste Treatment Facility, which is used to cure contagious and harmful waste of healthcare providers.
The province is the first in the country to have such a facility using Filipino technology.
Third place went to the city government of Santiago, Isabela with its Barangay Empowerment and Synergy for Poverty Reduction Network or BESPREN Project, which effectively implemented several national laws related to the environment.
Cuñado said the awardees are the game changers as they have shown some out-of-the-box solutions to environmental crises such as air and water pollution, solid waste management, climate change, and environmental education.
“We hope that the example you have set will also lead the way for other communities all over the Philippines to be game-changers in their own simple ways,” he added.
Consolation prize winners were the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of Lebak (Sultan Kudarat); the local government of Donsol, Sorsogon; Grachelle Andrea Bello Guevara of I Can Make A Difference, Inc. (Zamboanga City); Camille M. Agotana of Lupon Ng Mga Inidibidwal Na Nangangalaga Ng Kalikasan Inc. (La Union); city government of General Trias, Cavite; Raoul T. Bacalla of DBSN Farms Agriventure Corporation (Leyte); and municipality of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Launched in April 2021, the DENR-EMB Game Changer Communities Award was opened to Filipino individuals, civil society, women’s and youth groups, and local government units that led innovative projects on waste reduction; climate change mitigation; water quality conservation and protection; information, education, communication; and environmental education. (ai/mtvn)