July 16, 2024

The 7th Cordillera Environment Summit held on June 20 and 21 in observance of the Environment Month focused on the need for everyone to pitch in addressing waste management woes in the region.

The summit held in Baguio City highlighted a two-day lineup of sessions discussing the state of the region’s environment and initiatives to improve waste management and disposal.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Executive Director Paquito Moreno, whose message was delivered by Licenses, Patents and Deeds Division Chief Engr. Rowena Caccam, said in many countries, waste management is one of the biggest challenges as the lack of proper waste management significantly contributes to water contamination and air and land pollution, consequently posing threats to human health and damaging ecosystems.

Moreno said it has always been a challenge to secure sustainable and reliable energy sources, since the country which committed under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions, has to exert extra miles to invest money to install renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Waste to energy, upcycling, reducing, reusing, and recycling can be powerful tools for addressing our problems and attaining our goals at the same time. With this we can have feasible, reliable, and sustainable energy sources and greenhouse gases reduced,” Moreno said.

But while Filipinos know their goals, there is a need for more action. “We need more technology, we need more funding. We need public-private partnership. We need better citizen engagements,” Moreno said.

He said waste management is probably the most common but most difficult sector in the Environment Management Bureau of the DENR, as it needs to address diverse views, behaviors, and attitudes of stakeholders and lack of linkages among various sectors.

The summit, Moreno said, was an opportune time to bridge these gaps and to have productive discourses leading to change be it in the form of environment, local legislations, program implementation, or simply the conduct of activities.

“We hope to have a clear view of the status and challenges in waste management, new perspective on how to turn our waste problems into a potential, and how these perspectives when turned into reality can contribute in the achievement of our goals under the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and the Philippine Development Plan among others,” Moreno said.

EMB-CAR Director Engr. Jean Borromeo said the Cordillera Environment Summit is an avenue for Cordillerans to learn innovations, ideas, initiatives, and advocacies that will help in managing and looking at efforts as the region moves forward from its solid waste management systems.

She called attention on the implementation of the Extended Producers Responsibility Act as she shared the message of DENR Sec. Maria Yulo Loyzaga that “the urgency of our mission is underscored by the growing impacts of linear consumption patterns as evidenced by the staggering volume of waste generated daily in our country. The law is crucial in advancing a circular economy.”

Borromeo said people now need to shift their patterns from linear to circular or from “make, use, and dispose” to “make, reuse, recycle”.

Dapat matuto na tayong baguhin ito. If we do not, we will be inundated with the volume of waste that we produce daily,” Borromeo said.

On behalf of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, executive assistant Victor Jimenez said of all provinces and cities in the Cordillera, Baguio is the probably the most in need of this kind of summit because of the density of its communities brought by urbanization.

“We can only manage. We all already know the many efforts of the local government in managing the environment so it does not reach worsening conditions. It has even employed smart technology to help manage people and vehicle density and garbage. We partner with organizations both private and public to ensure the sustainable development at all times,” Jimenez said.

But he said these are not enough because it is difficult to make people cooperate.

Ang dami at ang lalaki naman ng mga signages, both kind and threatening: ‘Throw trash in the trash bin’, ‘save our forests’, ‘save our rivers’, ‘pocket your trash’, ‘littering is punishable by law’. Pero kahit saan, kahit sa mga lugar na nababantayan na ng mga authorities marami pa ring basura. Ang hirap hingin ang tulong ng mga tao,” he said.

Still, Jimenez said the city government continues to think of and find ways to reduce waste in the air, land, and water by continuously educating the community.

“We hope we engage the youth in simple activities – segregate trash, pulot walk, plogging, teaching them recycling activities. Let us do mini summits like this so that more people will learn and join in our advocacy,” he said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana