By Paula Bernasor
May 31, 2022
The term biodiversity (from “biological diversity”) refers to the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life. The biophilia hypothesis, developed by American biologist and writer E.O. Wilson, describes the innate emotional connection with nature ingrained in the human condition as a product of evolution. Yet we are often faced with distraction as we scroll through Facebook feeds or binge-watch on Netflix, or go on to play Mobile Legends and neglect this inherent need to connect with nature. Cities must reconnect with natural foundations to face the climate, health, and biodiversity crises.
It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. Biodiversity is affected by climate change, with negative consequences for human well-being. Still, biodiversity, through the ecosystem services it supports, also makes an important contribution to both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Consequently, conserving and sustainably managing biodiversity is critical to addressing climate change.
In May, with the aim of highlighting the importance of biodiversity for many sustainable development issues, Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas tackled local issues, threats, and actions that can be done to build a shared future for all life.
The main issues and threats enumerated were:
1. The lack of education among locals on the ill effects of industries and developments on our biodiversity such as over-tourism, charcoal making, overfishing, and conversion of forest areas to farmlands or residential areas;
2. The lack of information and monitoring paired with the inadequate implementation of existing policies that protect endemic species and protected areas;
3. The growing trend of red-tagging among environmentalists that are working in far-flung areas;
4. The exclusion of biodiversity during the formulation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) and in post-disaster assessments; and
5. The dominance of top-down natural resource management instead of decentralized environmental governance based on community participation.
The Climate Reality Leaders also created the following 22 Actions for Biodiversity during the hangout:
Moreover, Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas shared the current actions that they are doing individually:
Elizar Sabinay Jr. of Cebu is practicing bicycle commuting, advocating the total ban of single-use plastics in Cebu City, promoting E-Bus as mass transport in Metro Cebu; and assisting local government units (LGUs) on their People’s Survival Fund proposals.
Ava Laureen Arnejo of Sogod, Cebu is doing an inventory of species to make a biodiversity corridor, ditching the consumerist economy (trying to minimize her carbon footprint), and mainstreaming biodiversity in local policies.
Raymund Malapitan of Sipalay, Negros Occidental is promoting solar tech household essentials, utilizing gravity water pressure-driven for water supply, encouraging and teaching green tech or smart houses and structures, facilitating knowledge transfer on tech support on rainwater storage and harvest, and maintaining a small-scale sustainable veggie garden in his home using non-traditional techniques.
Al Gonzaga of San Francisco, Camotes, Cebu is working on the publication of Municipal Water Cod, which will declare the identified critical watershed area from the conducted Water Resources Assessment (WRA) to be a protected area, limiting the land use and restricting polluting developments. He is also driving the integration of biodiversity conservation and protection in San Francisco’s LCCAP.
Katreen Castillo of Palapag, Northern Samar is advocating the integration of protected watersheds and greenbelt in the local government’s Comprehensive Development Plan for the next five (5) years. She is working with the local government on following through with programs related to these funded endeavors. She is also documenting wild foods and processing these for high-value applications.
As the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity approaches, “30×30” is the conservation breakthrough we need to save biodiversity.
The “30×30” is a movement that pushes nations to set aside 30 percent of Earth’s land and seas for nature by 2030. For many conservation biologists, it is already a big leap even to see it on the table. We cannot afford for our country’s Aiichi targets to fail. We need a strong commitment to halt the loss of biodiversity, restore and conserve the natural world, achieve a nature-positive world by 2030, and realize the vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050.
Biodiversity is important. Intact nature provides a range of ecosystem services—from life support, such as clean air and water, fertile soils and pollination, to psychological benefits and protection from climate change, extreme weather, and disasters, not to mention a reduced risk of “spillover” diseases like COVID-19.
The crisis the natural world faces will continue to have devastating consequences for humanity, and the science is clear that our window of opportunity to reverse these trends is narrowing.
We can only start acting on it if we ask ourselves these questions: How is my local biodiversity doing? What can I do to help? How can I get my community to convene and act? How can I get my government to care?
Paula Bernasor is the Visayas Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a Climate Reality Philippines Leader and Mentor, Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, and a volunteer for Project Sharklink and Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project. She previously worked as an Associate for Partnerships for Rare Organisation’s Fish Forever in the Philippines. She started Project Library in the Philippines, a grassroots movement that helps underprivileged communities in remote areas gain access to books and reading materials, as well as Ocean Love Philippines, which uses social media to spread awareness on pressing environmental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle and the circular economy.
ABOUT KLIMA KABISAYAAN
Klima Kabisayaan is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 300 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.
It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.