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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Group vows Verde Island Passage protection

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The Verde Island Passage Technical Working Group (VIP TWG), led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has initiated collaboration efforts to safeguard the Verde Island Passage, one of the world’s most biodiverse marine areas.

The Aboitiz Group, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) are key partners in this initiative, underscoring their commitment to environmental sustainability and marine biodiversity.

The TWG also includes the Department of Energy (DOE) as a key partner in this endeavor and shared a vision of energy transition plans for the country.

The Verde Island Passage, situated in the Coral Triangle, is “the center of the center” of marine biodiversity. The VIP TWG aims to implement strategies for its long-term protection, promoting sustainable practices and reducing human impact.

Since 2018, five provinces have shared a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect this region. The current focus is to translate this MOU into concrete actions, including establishing the plans for the VIP marine station for research and monitoring, collaboration on conservation and management programs with local communities. Its implementation shall be aligned with the 9 other planned marine stations of DENR across different parts of the country.

A Protected Area Suitability Assessment is ongoing to determine whether the Verde Island Passage should be designated a Marine Protected Area. The recent VIP TWG meeting aimed to inventory current initiatives, find areas of convergence, and plan the next steps to operationalize the MOU.

“We are proud to be part of this groundbreaking initiative,” said Sabin Aboitiz, President and CEO of the Aboitiz Group. “Our collaboration with MPIC, SMC, DOE and DENR reflects our shared commitment to environmental stewardship and the preservation of our natural resources for future generations.”

Future efforts will include habitat protection, sustainable fisheries management, and community engagement. The VIP TWG will collaborate with local communities, stakeholders, and international partners to achieve its conservation goals. Regular monthly meetings will ensure ongoing progress and address emerging issues.

Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer of Aboitiz Equity Ventures emphasized, “Together, we are paving the way for a more sustainable future for marine biodiversity. This partnership demonstrates the power of public-private cooperation in tackling environmental challenges and fostering sustainability.”

This initiative also considers economic and business impacts, aiming to balance environmental sustainability with economic development. By identifying gaps, enhancing existing efforts, and exploring synergies, the VIP TWG is poised to make a lasting impact on the Verde Island Passage and beyond.

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