17 August 2023
Surigao City, Philippines
The province of Dinagat Islands is identified as a group of mega-diverse small islands in the Philippines with an extremely high level of critical terrestrial ecosystems with unique endemism of flora and fauna, of which more than half are found nowhere else in the world. The province is also home to critical watershed areas that not only serve as habitats for rare and endemic plant and animal species — they also supply water that sustains communities across the island.
Because of this, the local government units (LGUs) of Dinagat Islands have partnered with several international and local non-government organizations to initiate and implement the Dinagat Communities for Conservation or DINAGAT C4C. The said project was launched on Thursday at the Hotel Tavern in Surigao City.
These non-government organisations (NGOs) — the US-based Rainforest Trust (RFT), KAISAHAN, Balay Alternative Legal Advocates For Development In Mindanaw (BALAOD Mindanaw), Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), and International Land Coalition (ILC) Asia — have come together to assist Dinagatnon stakeholders in ensuring the declaration and the proper management of key biodiversity areas and local conservation areas through the initiative of empowered communities.
The establishment of the DINAGAT C4C is the culmination of the Dinagat Islands Conservation Program (DICP), which was conceptualized and carried out by the office of the Dinagat Islands Lone District Representative Kaka Bag-ao together with the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
"We founded the DICP together with various stakeholders in 2013 in an effort to respond to the challenges faced by Dinagat Islands and its people. These included food and water security, human health and welfare, disaster risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation," said Bag-ao, also the former Governor of Dinagat Islands, in the opening of the DINAGAT C4C launch.
"Aside from the declaration of protected areas, we also seek to conduct biodiversity and watershed assessments, capacity building for duty-bearers and communities, and several other activities that will empower Dinagatnons in ensuring development through conservation," said Anthony Marzan, Executive Director of KAISAHAN in his presentation about the project.
Local chief executives of Dinagat Islands led in the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that cemented the partnership of their respective LGUs with the NGO partners.
Dinagat Islands Governor Nilo Demerey Jr met with Bag-ao and NGOs a day before the launch to sign on behalf of the Provincial Government.
"The conservation of watersheds in Dinagat Islands is very important because it is for the future generation," Demerey said in a recorded message that was presented during the launch. He signed the MOA earlier since he had an urgent meeting to attend.
Municipal local chief executives present in the launch and MOA signing were Cagdianao Mayor Marc Adelson Longos, Dinagat Mayor Simplicio Leyran Jr, Libjo Mayor Melody Llamera-Compasivo, and Tubajon Mayor Fely Pedrablanca.
In her solidarity message, Pedrablanca emphasized the need to strengthen citizen participation to guarantee the success of the project.
"In Tubajon, we have our People's Council. We already had several engagements with our partner NGOs long before our launch today. And through the Tubajon People's Council, we were able to infuse democratic people's participation in conservation. This allows the people to have a stronger ownership and appreciation of environmental protection programs because they see these as integral not only to their livelihoods, but also their lives," she said.
The event closed with the symbolic signing of the Commitment of Dinagat Communities for Conservation by the LGU officials, NGO partners, and other stakeholders.
For more information, please contact:
Jeff Crisostomo, Dinagat C4C Communications Consultant
+63 917 620 1848
Kimberly Alvarez, Dinagat C4C Project Manager