The Pasig River, through the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, has bagged the inaugural 2018 Asia RiverPrize given by the International River Foundation during the 21st International Riversymposium held in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday.
The 27-kilometer Pasig River beat the other finalist, Yangtze River of China, which was represented by the Asian Development Bank.
In announcing the winner during the gala dinner, the IRF said the judges were impressed with the scale of the problem the Pasig River faced and the scale of the response initiated by the PRRC.
“Critical to the success of the story was bringing the community, around 18,000 people, to decent housing and transforming these communities and their lives into environmentally responsible citizens,” the IRF said before the announcement of the winner.
The IRF recognizes and rewards organizations that are making a difference through effective river basin restoration and management programs.
Pasig River, being the winner of the 2018 Asia Riverprize, received widespread global recognition, which can build new partnerships, provide opportunities for exchange of knowledge and best practices, and open doors for international support.
“One of the five critical criteria in the determination of the winner was leadership, which we attribute to the leadership of our beloved President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” said PRRC executive director Jose Antonio “Ka Pepeton” E. Goitia.
“It was PRRD’s leadership that united both the public and private sectors into this shared mission of protecting the Pasig River and improving the lives of the communities around it with strong political will. This is a global recognition for President Duterte and every Filipino river warrior,” he added.
In its website, the IRF noted that Pasig River was declared biologically dead in the 1990s due to persistent pollution caused by population growth and industrial development along its riverbanks.
However, PRRC and its partners in river restoration and management efforts have effectively brought the Pasig River back to life.
PRRC’s efforts including quality projects, programs, activities, and advocacies in easement recovery, riverbank development, waste and water quality management, and public awareness brought the river back to life.
From 1999 to 2017, PRRC resettled 18,719 families living along the riverbanks to decent homes, dismantled 376 encroaching private structures, established 37,471.68 linear meters of environmental preservation areas, developed 17 of its 47 identified tributaries, diverted almost 22 million kilograms of solid waste, and transformed communities into environmentally-responsible citizens.
“This has resulted in significant water quality improvement, as well as the revitalization and development of the Pasig River system,” the IRF said.
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