Remarks by Reed Aeschliman, Deputy Mission Director, USAID/Philippines, Program Launch of the Professional Masters in Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management of the University of the Philippines

Friday, January 9, 2015

[As Prepared]

Acknowledgements: Pres. Alfredo Pascual, President of the University of the Philippines System; Dr. Gisela Concepcion, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Chancellor Michael Tan of UP Diliman; Chancellor Fernando Sanchez of UP Los Baños; Chancellor Rommel Espinosa of UP Visayas; Deans and directors of the UP implementing units; Undersecretary and Director Asis Perez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; Director Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau; Ms. Marissa Lerias of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines; Our partners in the field of marine conservation in the Philippines.

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!

I am pleased to be here with all of you today to launch the Professional Master’s Program in Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management of the University of the Philippines. Through this effort, the U.S. Government continues to strengthen local institutions such as universities to become key partners in coastal and marine biodiversity conservation.

Economic growth in the Philippines has surged in recent years. With this comes the responsibility of ensuring resiliency, including controlling carbon emissions, protecting water supplies and conserving the surrounding ocean.

A healthy environment, with good, clean water and air, and abundant natural resources nurtures healthy living, advances prosperity and keeps communities stable.

Through the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government, has invested more than Php2 billion (US$ 46.5 million) in the last decade to support marine biodiversity conservation in the Philippines.

The Government of the Philippines at the national and local levels has been a key partner in promoting appropriate management, good governance and community engagement in the coastal and marine sector. Together, we continue to build on successes and learn from lessons we gather along the way.

When USAID commissioned a study on the Philippines’ forestry and biodiversity resources in inland waters and coastal/marine areas, findings revealed that national and local government units lack sufficient expertise to manage natural resources. This has led to significant biodiversity loss, threatening the ocean’s waters, and the lives of the people who depend on them.

To address this, we awarded a grant to the Marine Environment and Resources Foundation (MERF) to establish the postgraduate program that we are launching today. Through the Professional Master’s in Tropical and Marine Ecosystem Management, we will give opportunities to middle-management professionals in government, NGOs, and the private coastal and marine sector to enhance their multi-disciplinary skills with strong foundations in science. Students of the program can specialize their studies and dedicate their careers to conserving the biodiversity of the Philippines and throughout the Coral Triangle.

We know that with MERF and the University of the Philippines Marine Sciences Institute (UP-MSI) on board, we are investing in a partnership that will yield sustainable results far and wide. By offering the course in three campuses of the University of the Philippines, more people can have the opportunity to join the program. More than skilled managers and technical experts, graduates will become champions of conversation, advocating for environmental resiliency.

This is the objective of the Partnership for Growth, which the U.S. Government and the Government of the Philippines established to accelerate and sustain inclusive and resilient growth in the country. Growth and resiliency go hand in hand to ensure that prosperity reaches all people, and that it’s here to stay.

This graduate program is a concrete step towards achieving this objective and we are excited to hear about the first batch of students who will take part in it.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge everyone who has been instrumental in getting this program up and running. Thanks to the project team of MERF and UP-MSI for all your hard work; to Chancellor Tan, Chancellor Sanchez, and Chancellor Espinosa and, most especially, to Pres. Pascual for leading this new initiative; and to Usec. Asis Perez and Dir. Mundita Lim for your support.

Maraming salamat po!

Issuing Country