SPEECH OF HON. LOREN LEGARDA

Magandang umaga sa ating lahat. I warmly congratulate you all on the launch of the Year of Protected Areas (YoPA) campaign. This will further strengthen much-needed actions to combat biodiversity loss and champion climate adaptation measures.

We are facing a triple planetary crisis: biodiversity loss, pollution, and, of course, climate change.

The world is experiencing unprecedented environmental changes at a speed and on a scale not previously experienced in human history. Environmental degradation is largely due to human activities. We caused this problem. So we must by necessity be the solution. We can reverse this through efficient and effective conservation of our protected areas. 

Protected areas are our investments to ensure and secure ecological integrity. They provide us with some degree of stability and security. They will help provide a better future for our posterity.

Promoting protected areas is a nature-based solution to address climate change, conserve biodiversity and uphold human health.  Protected areas are vital to maintaining and protecting healthy ecosystems, diverse natural habitats and wild species. 

Protected areas provide a range of free and universal services to all of us: air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat, at no cost.

The Philippine Government recognizes the value and importance of investing in protected areas with the passage of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018 (or the ENIPAS), which I authored. 

The ENIPAS increased the total of legislated protected areas to 107 to include 94 natural parks, protected landscapes or seascapes, and reserves. This paved the way for more extensive protection and effective preservation of a large number of protected areas through access to funding and prosecution of prohibited acts.

My dear colleagues and friends: Protected areas are more than just about wildlife or biodiversity. When governed and managed effectively, they also support human health and well-being. 

But there lies the rub. These areas need to be governed and managed effectively or else they will remain protected only on paper. And when we speak of management, we emphasize two things that must go together: first is the stewardship of resources and budgets, and the second is the proactive pursuit of appropriate interventions to reduce threats.

Recent severe weather events, indicative of impacts of climate change underscore the need for a greater sense of urgency. And a more comprehensive and integrated approach to ensuring stronger national resilience.

The series of typhoons ending with Typhoon  Odette were devastating. 

There is a hard lesson to be learned here. And,  more importantly, there is an opportunity: Not just to Build Back Better. But to FOCUS  FIRMLY ON THE FUTURE and BUILD RIGHT  AT FIRST SIGHT.

Nature-based solutions will be the new currency as the world works towards resilience. Again, if our protected areas are governed and managed well, these areas will benefit us all.

I truly welcome the YoPA campaign. 

The year must inspire our nation to be part of the solution to the problems we have made.  This is our collective legal and moral responsibility. I firmly believe, together we can do more for nature and for ourselves during this Year of Protected Areas. Maraming  salamat, at isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating  lahat!

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