Message of UNDP Country Director, Mr. Toshihiro Tanaka

24 Jul 2013

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NDSAP) Launch, Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Ortigas Center, Quezon City

Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo of DENR
Director Mundita Lim of PAWB 
Director Merceditas Sombilla of NEDA 
Colleagues from different government agencies,
Friends from Civil Society and Academe

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (Good morning to all).

It is my pleasure to be here with you at the launch of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan updating process and the Southern Luzon consultation.  The United Nations has recently facilitated the consultations for the Post 2015 Development Agenda where environmental sustainability is a major theme. Here in the Philippines, the consultations led to the surfacing of issues that are seen to be critical to a country’s sustainability and the ultimate well-being of its people.

As a subset of environmental sustainability, the Philippines’ biodiversity resources are being eyed in a new light, as holding substantive potential for wealth creation which can address the country’s remaining pockets of poverty. Data show that global sales of pharmaceuticals are estimated to be US$300 billion annually, of which the component derived from genetic resources accounts for between US$75billion and US$150billion. The Philippines must capitalize on its genetic pool to generate wealth. The potential uses for the country’s biodiversity represent a significant future income which promises to rival that from conventional use.

To realize this potential, however, a number of tasks need to be undertaken, under the auspices of the national government. Among these are: 1.) providing an appropriate environment and support to the country’s research community and recognition to the original owners of the resources like the indigenous peoples; 2.) establishing a robust intellectual property rights regime which can lead to an equitable benefits sharing among the developers and stewards of the resources and the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.; and, 3) value adding which leads to wealth creation. 

All these have to be reflected and mainstreamed not only in the Filipino peoples’ general consciousness but in formal processes and instruments like the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBSAP).The updating of the NBSAP thus, comes at an opportune time. It should outline the steps that will pave the way for protocols and mechanisms for genetic resources development including access and benefit sharing schemes on patenting genetic material, intellectual property rights regimes, etc. based on national and international laws and frameworks.

Furthermore, the NBSAP can re-examine the country’s wealth creation strategy involving other resources with possible competing uses with the genetic pool such as minerals and logs, not only in the context of generating more income for the country but also equitable benefit sharing. Wealth creation, rather than plain employment generation, should be the predominant economic paradigm, with results earmarked for poverty eradication.

The updated NBSAP should also consider climate change which is heavily impacting the Philippines. With stronger and more frequent typhoons, associated losses have been tremendous and expensive. This is the new normal. Ways should be identified to shift from purely disaster management to disaster risk management, avoiding the costs of disasters to the national economy where it can.

Clearly, the NBSAP should not be treated separately from the Philippine Development Plan, rather as an integral part of it, providing natural capital for the economic sectors. Both should complement each other, build on previous gains and engage all sectors of society particularly in their implementation. The NBSAP should not also be seen merely as compliance to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity but strongly supporting national interests and biodiversity conservation priorities. It is the country’s roadmap in preserving and managing its biodiversity resources that would be beneficial for the country’s economic development.

I am happy to note that we have a diverse representation today. Each and every one has an important role to play in ensuring that the NBSAP is updated and able to deliver its promises.

Looking forward, the UNDP shall continue to provide the technical support and leverage funding for the NBSAP implementation. We are also keeping our communication lines open with you for ideas worth discussing and executing.

I wish you a productive two-day workshop. Thank you very much.