A Forum on “Wetlands for Our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods”

The Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW) successfully spearheaded a forum to celebrate the World Wetlands Day and to promote the wise use of wetlands.  This was in partnership with Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), Unilever – Philippines, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).  This year’s theme Wetlands for our future: Sustainable Livelihoods aims to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity through sustainable livelihoods for communities.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar delivered the keynote remarks highlighting her advocacy on providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities and environmental conservation and protection.

Providing the context for the Forum was the Message from Secretary J.R Nereus Acosta of the Laguna Lake Development Authority who presented the status of Laguna de Bay, the country’s largest inland wetland.

The event was participated by over 150 multi-sectoral audience composed of fisherfolks and farmers’ organizations, students, non-government organizations working on the lake, and employees from the local government and government agencies.

Also launched during the event was the Ramsar’s Wetlands Youth Photo Contest.

The forum discussed topics on –

  • “Tourism in Laguna de Bay” by Ms. Rebecca V. Labit, Regional Director of Department of Tourism – CALABARZON
  • “Shared Service Facility on Fish Processing” by Mr. Johmar Gonzales, Municipal Administrator of Pila
  • “Mitigating the Devastation of Knife Fish in Laguna Lake” by Mr. Romeo San Juan, Chairman of Mangingisda Alyansa ng Pila (MAPILA)
  • Lambat para sa Ikauunlad ng Mangingisda at sa Lawa” by Mr. Felimon Buena, President of Kapatiran ng Malalayang Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Pilipinas (KAMMMPI)
  • “Increasing the awareness on Wetlands Conservation and Livelihood Opportunities of Lakeshore Communities in Cardona” by Mr. Jaime Evangelista, Chairman of Ugnayan ng mga Mamamayan at Mangingisda ng Rizal (UGMMARIZ)

This was followed by an open forum.  Major issues discussed and stated in the open forum include knifefish devastation in Laguna de Bay, reclamation projects for dikes and expressway in Laguna de Bay which are strongly opposed by the fisherfolks organizations present because of possible adverse impacts not only on their livelihood but also on the social and environmental status of communities living along the lakeshore.

The Forum was able to highlight the link between the integrity of wetlands and its ability to provide sustainable livelihoods to local communities. It also promoted awareness on wetlands conservation, particularly in Laguna de Bay, and recommended that further discussion on the issues raised be pursued in future fora to provide a venue for stakeholders to express their concerns on pressing issues confronting important wetlands in the country.

The event was held at the ERDB Audotorium in Los Baños, Laguna on 02 February 2016.