Why ‘Environment for Life’ Matters: A DENR Ecosystem

On the occasion of the global celebration of World Environment Day, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held an Environment for Life media event that highlighted the DENR’s two-pronged blueprint for strategic and effective sustainable development and environmental action in the country. Led by DENR Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga, the presentation was an eye-opener to the promise and possibilities of coherence, convergence, and synergies.

2023 DENR World Environment Day Celebration – Environment for Life. L-R: Ms. Judy Rola, Head of Information Management of Makilala Mining; Ms. Patrique Jane Duran, Head of Mining of Makilala Mining; Engr. Jimmy Lu, Project Manager of San Miguel Corporation; Mr. Shimoda Shigeru, President of Marubeni Corporation Philippines; Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga; Mr. Horia Adrian, President and CEO of Holcim Philippines; Engr. Bien Mateo, SVP for Operations of SM Supermalls; Mr. Tulsi Das Reyes, President of DMCI Mining; Mr. Jan Vincent Mercado SVP of BEST Inc.; and Ms. Nanette Medved-Po, Founder and Chair of HOPE Foundation and Plastic Credit Exchange

The key to these initiatives is to put in place comprehensive, whole-of-government, and whole-of-society plans that are coupled with finding strategic partners in the form of LGUs (Local Government Units) and/or the private sector. For the purposes of the media event, several of these partners were brought forward to demonstrate the diverse ways in which this can be accomplished.

L-R: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, Holcim Philippines President Horia Adrian, and SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Bien Mateo

Marubeni Philippines, a major integrated trading and investment business conglomerate from Japan, Holcim Philippines, a Swiss-based global building materials and aggregates company, the Razon-led Prime Infrastructure Capital Inc., SM Supermalls, San Miguel Corporation, DMCI Mining Corporation, HOPE/Century Pacific Food Inc., Makilala Mining Company Inc., and Basic Environmental Systems and Technologies Inc. (BEST), shared the stage with the DENR Secretary, and presented their respective efforts in the name of coherent, convergent, and synergized environmental action.

A recurring theme with all the reports from these strategic partners was how their initiatives embodied the DENR mantra regarding natural resources – to Protect, Rehabilitate, Restore, and Regenerate. And when it came to treating plastic waste, it was about Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga

Marubeni highlighted their carbon credit program through reforestation; a joint undertaking of Marubeni, DENR, Dacon Corp., and the University of the Philippines Los Banos. The initial site covers 10,000 hectares in Negros Occidental, and aims to restore biodiversity, create employment in local communities, and establish the carbon credit program.

Holcim Philippines decarbonized its operations and reduced carbon emissions per ton of cement by 7%. In partnership with the DENR, it will be deploying a 100% solar powered catamaran, the Circular Explorer, operated by One Earth One Ocean, to clean up coastal areas from plastic waste in Manila Bay. There is a new project in Northern Mindanao to support coral and coastal ecosystems via a ‘marine bio-active concrete’.

With Prime Infra, there’s a reforestation project, partnered with the DENR, of a 1,800 hectare area within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape. This project integrates water security, watershed protection, with forest carbon and biodiversity management. The MOU signed can be seen as a blueprint for the wider implementation of nature-based solutions programs.

Prime Infra Chief Regulatory Officer Vince Dizon

SM Supermalls embraces sustainability through initiatives on energy conservation, solid waste reduction, and water conservation. Their adoption of green and resilient designs in their buildings promotes disaster mitigation and prevention measures, along with solid waste management.

SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Bien Mateo

Initiatives such as Trash to Cash Recycling, Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, regular coastal clean-ups, incentives for bicycle riders, and the use of recycled water for cooling systems are all part of SM Supermalls’ commitment to environmental action.

For this event, San Miguel Corporation concentrated on showcasing their dredging and river widening work in rehabilitating the Pasig River and its tributaries. It’s been effective in reducing floods and overspill in several strategic localities along the river’s course that has historically been notorious for flooding. Photos of the progress of these operations that showed the depth and width of these riverways were very impressive. SMC partners with the DENR, DILG, MMDA, and concerned LGUs in these initiatives.

The DMCI Mining Corporation shared how they’ve been an integral part in cleaning up the recent MT Princess Empress tanker accident, and the resulting oil spill. The report spoke of the ongoing efforts and how while contained, there was still work to be done, and that DMCI deeply appreciated the opportunity to play a critical role in the cleanup of the coastal areas of Caluya, Antique.

DMCI Mining President Tulsi Das Reyes

In the case of HOPE Foundation/Century Food Inc., a highly developed CSR sustainable program that’s centered on coconut growing for their Vita Coco beverage has led to livelihood opportunities for several targeted barangays and communities. It’s a holistic approach that’s circular in nature, as it lends itself to the requirements of Vita Coco, so there’s a guaranteed market for the farmers’ output. They’ve also joined the Plastic Exchange Program (PCX), which is taking on the challenge of reducing plastic waste and is contributing to the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Act (EPR).

HOPE Foundation Founder Nanette Medved-Po

The Makilala Mining Company presentation was an enlightening one, as it offered a framework for the future of responsible mining. The planned equity participation for the Balatoc indigenous community that owns the land is reminiscent of what happens in Australia and New Zealand with the traditional custodians of ancestral lands. It’s regenerative sustainability in the mining sector. As represented by the women in their senior management team, Makilala is a model for inclusion and diversity.

BEST highlighted their Trash to Cashback program, and how it’s centered on a five step program of Segregate, Exchange, Redeem, Collect, and Recycle. BEST recognizes that to jumpstart this circularity, there is a need to input incentivizing. To depend solely on the general public’s awareness of sustainable action would be premature at this time, and yet the pressing need for collecting used plastic has to be acted upon. Their Balik PET Bottle Program is partnered with Coca-Cola Far East Limited and the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners.

All in all, it was an effective showcase for how the DENR is developing new ways of work across several fronts to make the protection, preservation and regeneration of our natural resources part of a comprehensive ENR plan for resource development; and seeing that through this DENR ecosystem, a sustainable future can be safeguarded for all.

L-R: Holcim Philippines President Horia Adrian, SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Bien Mateo, and DMCI Mining President Tulsi Das Reyes

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