Millions of Filipinos rely on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries for their livelihoods, but frequent natural disasters, ineffective management, and lapses in environmental law enforcement threaten these critical natural resources. Water and air pollution levels exceed generally accepted health standards; and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing from rapid urbanization, land conversion, mismanaged plastic waste, and increased demands on the transport and power sectors. These drivers, coupled with the country’s location in the Pacific, make the Philippines consistently rank as one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
The U.S. government has a strong, decades-long partnership with the government of the Philippines on environmental conservation. Through USAID, the United States partners with the Philippines to protect the Philippines’ vast natural resources, promote water and energy security, support the country’s low carbon transition, combat illegal and exploitative fishing practices, and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts and natural disasters.
Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (CCBO)
The Philippines is among the largest contributors to global ocean plastic pollution. The country generates an estimated 2.7 million tons of plastic waste each year, with approximately 20 percent ending up in the ocean. Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (CCBO) is USAID’s flagship program to address the global crisis of ocean plastic pollution. CCBO works in 10 countries to reduce ocean plastic pollution directly at its source by strengthening waste management systems and building circular economies, city by city. In the Philippines, CCBO (buy-in) helps develop, test, and implement new models that promote the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and enhance solid waste management; facilitate partnerships and investment around key needs such as infrastructure; and strengthen local systems to build the Philippines’ resiliency. CCBO is piloting solutions to stop the flow of plastic pollution into the waters within and surrounding the country, including several of the most problematic areas. The project is working with partners to design and implement holistic strategies that address each step in the waste value chain—from production to its end use—prioritizing the most inclusive, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions.
Climate Resilient Cities (CRC)
The Philippines, one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region, is among the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, ranking first in the 2022 World Risk Index. Climate Resilient Cities (CRC) advances resilience by helping Philippine cities adapt to, mitigate, and manage the impacts of climate change and disasters. Project activities focus on enhancing the cities’ capacity to understand, use, and communicate climate data – including vulnerability and risk data; improving the cities’ abilities to access and manage climate financing; and enabling cities to implement or upscale innovative, nature-based solutions to conserve, restore, or sustainably manage the environment. The project works with various stakeholders such the national and local governments, non-governmental organizations, academia, and the private sector. Under a donor to donor agreement, the Korea International Cooperation Agency buys-in to the CRC activity.
Energy Secure Philippines (ESP)
Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) supports the Philippine Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission in advancing clean energy as envisioned in the Philippine Energy Plan for 2040, the core of which is centered on the pillars of ensuring energy security, expanding energy access, and promoting a low-carbon future through multi-stakeholder support and engagement. Working with the government and private sector, the project aims to mobilize at least $750 million of private investments into the energy sector and at least 500 MW of additional electricity generating capacity. ESP helps improve the operational performance of select electric distribution utilities, as well as support their financial viability and strengthen resilience against shocks and stresses, including cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The project also supports the increased deployment of advanced energy sources and systems. Specifically, the project supports implementation of key policies and regulations that will advance the use of renewable energy and promote energy efficiency, smart technologies, and physical and cybersecurity capabilities. ESP also enhances competition in the power sector so that more consumers can enjoy lower electricity costs. The activity also provides small grants to incubate and pilot novel and innovative solutions on various cross-sectoral issues.
The Philippines depends on coral reefs for food and income valued at $22 million annually. Fish provide more than 50 percent of Filipinos' dietary protein. However, unsustainable fishing practices and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing have affected coastal and marine biodiversity. Fish Right promotes sustainable fisheries by improving local marine ecosystem management, establishing fishing regulations, “right-sizing” fisheries to increase fish stocks in government-designated fisheries management areas, and managing the impact of climate on fisheries and coastal resources. The program works with fisherfolk, provincial, and municipal governments and community-based organizations to improve management of marine key biodiversity areas. By 2025, the program expects to see a 10 percent increase in fish number and weight as a result of improved management of 2.5 million hectares of marine waters, benefitting more than 2 million people.
Forestry and Climate Change Support Program
Since 2011, USAID has partnered with the United States Forest Service to build the capacity of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local governments, indigenous peoples, communities, and the private sector in designing and implementing forest protection and restoration activities as natural climate solutions, and monitoring their effectiveness. The renewed partnership under the program provides technical assistance on developing and rolling out of the national forest monitoring system to enable accurate and reliable measurement, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry and land use sector; improving the design and implementation of the national forest resource assessment and forest inventory; and strengthening capacity for forest and grassland fire management.
Investing in Sustainability and Partnerships for Inclusive Growth and Regenerative Ecosystems (INSPIRE)
INSPIRE provides grants to civil society organizations (CSOs) and indigenous peoples’ groups in priority areas to implement local conservation and climate actions that advance environmental governance, promote inclusive growth, and restore natural ecosystems. The activity enhances the capacity of CSOs, indigenous peoples’ groups, and local communities to demand and participate in good natural resource governance; improves legal frameworks that support customary rights to land and water in biologically significant areas; and increases the transparency and accountability of various stakeholders about how natural resources are managed, extracted, and brought to market.
Local Works: Mindanao Bamboo Value Chain Development Program
In this Local Works activity, USAID partners with BUKTAMACO, the economic arm of the Bukidnon- Tagoloanon tribe, in establishing and developing an inclusive, locally-led, bamboo-based economy in Mindanao. This activity helps the tribe participate in the global export market using innovative solutions to address development challenges and create self-reliance. Specifically, this project will develop 1,500 hectares of giant bamboo plantations, interplanted with native hardwood trees; establish nurseries and post-harvest processing capacity to create a locally-led, sustainable value chain that meets global market standards for bamboo products; secure legal, financial, and carbon rights for indigenous peoples' ancestral lands; and develop a methodology and registering for carbon offsets. Through these activities, the project is providing sustainable incomes and livelihood for the marginalized indigenous communities and small landowners, improving environmental conditions in bamboo plantations, facilitating robust data collection, learning, and registration and verification for carbon credit trading; and empowering and providing financial autonomy for women.
Meloy Fund for Sustainable Community Fisheries
The fisheries and seafood industry employs 1.4 million people in the Philippines, and fish accounts for up to 50 percent of the total intake of animal protein. While coastal fisheries help conserve biodiversity and protect communities from natural disasters, exploitation and overfishing are serious challenges that lead to reduced seafood production, lower incomes for fishing communities, and degraded coastal ecosystems. Sustainable fisheries is gaining wide support across the world, presenting a significant opportunity to support related enterprises and coastal communities, as well as mobilize private sector investments. However, businesses poised to take advantage of this opportunity lack access to finance because they are often perceived as too small or too risky. They need loans to adopt new technologies, implement best practices, grow, and in some cases, start-up. The Meloy Fund is an impact investment vehicle that incentivizes the development and adoption of sustainable fisheries by making debt and equity investments in fishing-related enterprises that support the recovery of coastal fisheries.
Partnering with the Development Finance Corporation, the Meloy Fund aims to mobilize $17.5 million in financing over twelve years. This assistance helps borrowers expand their sustainable fish and seafood production and improve their incomes, and promotes more sustainable practices and technologies to protect coastal systems.
Philippines Counter Wildlife Trafficking and Protected Area Management
The project strengthens the capacity of the Philippine government to combat wildlife crimes, more effectively manage protected areas, and analyze geospatial data to monitor environmental programs through technical assistance delivered by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) through its International Technical Assistance Program. The project continues the longstanding partnership between USAID and DOI, which has been ongoing since 2004.
The Philippines faces water security challenges that include a growing population, unsustainable land use, and severely deficient wastewater management. To address these challenges, the country requires an adequate and dependable supply of clean drinking water, elimination of open defecation in rural and poor communities, increased access to safely managed sanitation services, and sustainable water resources. The Philippines’ vulnerability to climate change will make water security even more challenging in the future as drought, typhoons, and sea level rise threaten the country’s watersheds, water resources, and water and sanitation systems. In partnership with the Government of the Philippines, Safe Water seeks to improve water security for water-stressed communities through increased access to water supplies and sanitation services, more sustainably managed water resources–including critical forests and watersheds, and a stronger policy and enabling environment. The project aims to provide local government units, water service providers, and watershed councils with the information, incentives, and partnerships to identify and address barriers to a water-secure future—yielding life-saving gains in access to water supply and sanitation services for unserved and underserved communities in the Philippines.
Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL)
SIBOL supports the Philippine government to achieve its goals of improving natural resource governance, sustainably managing natural resources, and reducing environmental crimes and unsustainable practices—leading to greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth. The project aims to support a resilient Philippines in which communities, the private sector, and government collaboratively protect the Philippines’ rich natural resources. SIBOL's Planetary Health approach uses cutting-edge science, coordinated and inclusive governance strategies, and powerful economic incentives to protect and conserve biodiversity and the benefits it provides to communities.
U.S. Peace Corps Small Project Assistance (SPA) V for Environment
USAID continues to support the Peace Corps through small grants, training, and program design and management assistance on sustainable coastal resources management, effective marine protected area management, and climate adaptation. With USAID support, the SPA program advances strategic partnerships with local governments by developing local champions to lead community-based biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation programs. The SPA benefits more than 20 coastal municipalities that have high marine biological significance but are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Through the SPA, USAID partners with Peace Corps Philippines to strengthen the capacities of local environment and fisheries officers and communities to protect, manage, and sustainably finance the protection and conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Volunteers work with community counterparts to identify common concerns, develop strategies to address these concerns, and implement small-scale community-level projects.
USAID-Philippine Government Ocean and Marine Science Support Program
The Ocean and Marine Science Support Program, a buy-in to the Regional Development Mission for Asia’s Interagency Agreement with NOAA, aims to strengthen the governance and resilience of coastal and ocean ecosystems. Under the renewed partnership between USAID and NOAA, the program supports the Philippine government institutions and coastal, ocean, and fisheries scientists and managers in addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; advancing sustainable fisheries management; and improving management effectiveness of national marine protected areas and networks through peer-to-peer scientific and technical research exchanges, training workshops, and technical assistance.