Remarks by Nora Pinzon, Deputy Office Director, Program Resources Management Office, USAID/Philippines Earth Day Celebration in the Province of Isabela

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

[As Prepared]


Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! Good morning to all of you! On behalf of the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), I would like to congratulate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-PENRO Isabela under the leadership of PENRO William Savella for spearheading the Earth Day 2015 celebration in this province.

I would also like to commend Governor Faustino Dy III, for his leadership in celebrating Earth Day in Northern Sierra Madre, a high conservation area for biodiversity and agricultural production.

I heard about the great work that the Province of Isabela is doing to help conserve the rich biodiversity in the Park, such as the active Environment Law Enforcement program, through the Isabela Environment Protection Task Force (ISEP-TF).

I am happy to see that there is a robust pro-environment constituency in the Province of Isabela, as represented by all of you, and the large number of participants who joined us in the Advocacy walk earlier this morning.

We could not have chosen a better time and place to launch the “Bright Spots in Hot Spots” campaign than here in Isabela as we commemorate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. The Earth Day celebration was started by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. This year the global theme is “It’s Our Turn to Lead.” Through the “Bright Spots in Hot Spots,” I strongly encourage you to demonstrate your leadership in protecting the Park’s wildlife and lush forests from poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking to help secure our global heritage and fight against the criminal networks. We only have 1 Earth we all need to work together to protect it.

Natural resources play an important part in the Philippines’ economy. Considered as one of the 18 “mega-diversity countries” in the world, the Philippines is also among the most highly threatened, driven largely by illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction. That is why the U.S. Government, through USAID, is working closely with the Philippine Government to improve the management of the country’s natural resources to build ecological resilience and contribute to the goal of a more stable, prosperous and well-governed Philippines. This is an example of how the U.S. Philippine partnership is good for the planet.

As the Philippine’s largest contiguous forest, I am pleased to see that through USAID’s largest biodiversity and watershed project, B+WISER, we have jointly developed science-based innovative conservation strategies to help curb destructive practices of “kaingin” or slash and burn farming, unsustainable fuel wood collection, and timber and wildlife poaching in the Protected Area’s 270,000-hectare forest.

As emphasized in the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, no one country can tackle the issues involved in wildlife trafficking on its own. This is a global challenge that requires local solutions.

In response, USAID, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, and TRAFFIC, is launching the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge to reward innovative science and technology solutions that combat wildlife trafficking. I enjoin you to learn more about this worldwide Challenge and see how the global community is teaming up to support to local innovations. Please visit our website, or like us on Facebook, USAID/Philippines, for information about the Tech Challenge.

Addressing the drivers and threats to biodiversity and the wellbeing of people in Northern Sierra Madre is a tall order. However, having witnessed your efforts, commitment and enthusiasm today, I am confident that your collective actions through this campaign will yield successful results. It is your time to lead, SO lead well!

Maraming salamat!

Issuing Country