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As one of the fastest growing countries in Asia, the Philippines faces environmental challenges, with disproportionate impacts on the poor and women. Ineffective management seriously degrades the country’s significant biodiversity resources; water and air pollution levels exceed generally accepted healthy standards; greenhouse gas emissions are increasing from the transport and power sectors; and the country is ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental disasters.

For the Philippines to become a more stable, prosperous and well-governed nation, the country must become more environmentally resilient and better able to cope with the impact of natural disasters and recover quickly. Natural resources play a critical role in the Philippine economy, as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry represent about 10 percent of gross domestic product and account for almost 30 percent of employment. Equally important, natural capital provides energy, water, flood control, storm mitigation and other environmental services that benefit the entire country, including cities. USAID assistance improves natural resource management in the Philippines; promotes water and energy security; and reduces vulnerability to and natural disasters.


Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER)

The Philippines is one of the world’s 17 mega-biodiverse countries, containing two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity, and 70 percent of the world’s plants and animal species. It is also one of the world’s hotspots, with a large number of endangered and threatened species. B+WISER improves natural resource management and reduces risks from disasters. In partnership with the national and local governments and other stakeholders, B+WISER conserves biodiversity in forested areas and reduces forest degradation in targeted, priority watersheds. The project also builds capacity to conserve biodiversity, manage forests and support low-emissions development, as well as contributes to disaster risk reduction at the subnational level. In fiscal year 2017, B+WISER improved the natural resource management of 1,683,151 hectares of land, which is more than 26 times the size of Metro Manila, or almost as big as Palawan province. It has also reduced 2.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to removing 574,000 cars off the streets in one year.

Building Low Emission Alternative to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS)

Global economies face worsening impacts of extreme variations in weather. Countries all over the world, including the Philippines, are searching for a balanced solution that sustains robust, resilient and efficient growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. B-LEADERS strengthens the capacity of the Philippine government and its key partners to plan, design and implement Low-Emissions Development Strategies, and contributes to the formulation of the Philippines’ Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. B-LEADERS has reduced, sequestered or avoided 563,648 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing more than 120,696 passenger vehicles from the roads in a year, or raising almost 15 million seedlings for 10 years. It has proposed and adopted 29 laws and policies, including Executive Order 30, creating the Energy Investment Coordinating Council in Order to Streamline the Regulatory Procedures Affecting Energy Projects. B-LEADERS trained more than 1,000 institutions on greenhouse gas inventory and energy issues at the national and local levels. It has leveraged $579 million in energy investments, establishing 242 megawatts of operational renewable electric generation capacity. For its last year of implementation, B-LEADERS will focus on helping Philippine government initiatives restore and improve electricity services in Marawi City. Very recently, the activity installed fifty solar street lights in the first transitional shelter site in Marawi City in support of the power restoration efforts in the area.

Buy-in to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mission Support Participating Agency Partnership Agreement

Ocean acidification and changes in sea temperature threaten biodiversity in the Philippines, particularly in fisheries and coral reef ecosystems. Building on its earlier regional work on the Coral Triangle Initiative, NOAA partnered with USAID to help the Philippine government strengthen its scientific, technical and management capacity and improve environmental and human resilience. NOAA works with the Department of Science and Technology and local universities to exchange knowledge on priority concerns and partners with other stakeholders to support vulnerability assessments; conduct climate and ocean change modeling for fisheries; and address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Through these activities, USAID is protecting and rehabilitating coral reef ecosystems. In 2017, NOAA partnered with USAID's ECOFISH project to help the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources train over 100 fisheries officers on the application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. It has completed curricula and supported training activities on marine protected areas primarily for 12 mentors representing 33 protected areas across all 18 regional offices of the DENR and more than 30 national area protected area managers.

Buy-in to the U.S. Forest Service Participating Agency Program Agreement (PAPA) for Sustainable Forest Management

USAID has partnered with the United States Forest Service since 2011 to help build the capacity of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local governments, indigenous peoples, communities and the private sector in sustainable forest management, including forest change monitoring using geospatial technologies, forest inventory analysis forest land use planning, forest restoration, forest fire management and development of the national forest monitoring system.

Energy Policy and Development Program (EPDP)

Energy is a crucial element of economic growth and development. Few academic and policy programs exist in the Philippines to develop and promote research and best practices in the energy sector. EPDP strengthens the capacity of the Philippine government to formulate coherent and evidence-based policies towards environmentally sound energy development and has helped establish academic programs in partnership with U.S. universities, including an economics laboratory, at the University of the Philippines. It conducted three executive courses and five mid-level courses to personnel of government agencies involved in energy development. EPDP also provided tailored research and evidence-based policy advice to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Economic and Development Authority, including inputs to the Filipino 2040 vision and scenario-building exercise. It provided technical support to the development of two DOE circulars, two House bills, and three Senate bills. EPDP completed 25 research studies on energy, the environment and related issues and a book on electricity policy, and conducted seven research workshops, as well as two policy fora – one on Demand Aggregation and Supply Auctioning of Power in the Philippines and another on Institutionalizing Energy Projects as Projects of National Significance. EPDP also informs private sector business strategies for sustainable and broad-based growth. It conducted nine lectures in partnership with presidents and CEOs of energy sector companies.

USAID Fish Right

The Philippines depend on coral reefs for food and income valued at $22 million annually. Fish and fish products provide more than 50 percent of Filipinos' dietary protein. However, unsustainable fishing practices have affected coastal and marine biodiversity. USAID's Fish Right program uses an ecosystem approach to fisheries management to "right-size" fisheries and enhances the sustainable use and resilience of critical coastal and marine resources. The program will work with fisherfolk, provincial and municipal governments and community-based organizations to promote improved management of marine key biodiversity areas (MKBAs). At the end of five years, the program will result in an average of 10 percent increase in fish biomass as a result of improved management of 2.5 million hectares of marine waters, benefitting the more than 2 million people.

Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation III (PBC)

According to the 2011 Tropical Forestry and Biodiversity Analysis commissioned by USAID, the destruction of biodiversity and natural resources remains a core environmental problem in the Philippines. Now in its third phase, PBC is strengthening environmental law enforcement to improve biodiversity conservation in the country. PBC primarily works with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine National Police, Department of Justice and the judiciary. PBC assistance has led to the development of manuals for enforcing wildlife, fisheries and forestry laws. The project also helped create a computer-based tool to combat wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; deputized hundreds of wildlife and environment and natural resources officers; formulated environmental law enforcement action plans from the subnational to national levels; and facilitated the Supreme Court’s development of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, which aided in the timely disposition of environmental crime cases.

Protect Wildlife

The Philippines' rich biodiversity is under threat, mostly from human activities, including deforestation and forest degradation, illegal fishing and illicit wildlife trade. Unfortunately, local stakeholders, who have the greatest stake in protecting the environment and the natural resources therein, have limited economic incentives, financial support and capacity to manage high biodiversity areas. Protect Wildlife reduces direct threats to biodiversity within its geographic scope through an integrated approach that focuses on: facilitating behavior change through effective communications; increasing investments in conservation; building capacity in biodiversity conservation and combating wildlife trafficking; improving decision making through evidence generated by science, technology and innovation; and strengthening environmental law enforcement. In the first two years of implementation, Protect Wildlife improved the management in three protected areas covering almost 223,000 hectares, trained more than 1,000 people in natural resources management and biodiversity conservation, reached almost 4,300 people through behavior change campaigns and secured $100,000 in private sector investments in anti-wildlife poaching actions.

Water Security Under Climate Risks: A Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Agriculture Sector

The Bicol River Basin is highly vulnerable to the impacts of floods, droughts and typhoons. Inequitable distribution and an inadequate supply of irrigation water has affected rice production and sharing of water resources. The Bicol Agri-Water Project (BAWP) improves water security to enhance agricultural development in the region. BAWP strengthens capacity of farmers to apply and adopt climate-resilient farming practices, develops tools to support decision-making and improves watershed governance. These activities help increase the resilience of farming communities to the impacts of natural disasters. As a result of the project’s assistance, close to 800 stakeholders have been trained on ways to better to adapt to the impacts of climate change and variability, and are using climate information and implementing risk-reducing actions in FY 2017.

U.S. Peace Corps Small Project Assistance

When Peace Corps Philippines offered to co-locate its volunteers in USAID project sites, the agencies deployed volunteers to projects focusing on biodiversity conservation and environmental resilience. The volunteers work with community counterparts to identify common concerns, develop strategies to address these concerns and implement small-scale community-level projects. Since the beginning of the program, USAID and Peace Corps have awarded 45 grants, which are strengthening capacities of local environment and fisheries officers and communities to protect and manage biodiversity and natural resources.

Last updated: September 17, 2018

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