Alt text for imageElementary students discuss among themselves as they observe an earthquake simulation during a school disaster-consciousness fair. (Photo: UNDP Philippines)

UNDP works on enhancing the environment's carrying capacity to support the country's sustained economic growth, alleviating poverty in the process. This is through the:

  1. Evolution and refinement of the legislative, institutional, and regulatory framework;
  2. Use of market-based mechanisms and adoption of environmentally sustainable technologies to encourage private sector participation in environmental protection as well as greater community alliance in the formulation and implementation of local level initiatives; and
  3. Establishment of a more effective system of environmental governance and delivery of environmental services, including monitoring and enforcement. 

The portfolio supports two main outcomes:

  1. Strengthened, rationalized and effectively implemented environment and natural resources policies, frameworks and plans. At the national level, we support the "road mapping" activities (i.e. formulation, sequencing, and implementation) of policy reforms in the following areas: pollution prevention, safer/cleaner production, solid waste management, protected area management, water resource management, ecosystems management, and sustainable energy development. Research and advocacy efforts for addressing the unequal treatment of men and women in terms of property rights are also included.
  2. Streamlined Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) services and strengthened sustainable development planning and implementation capacity. We help increase the capacity of local government units and communities to effectively manage their local ecosystems. We promote replication of best practices in other urban centers.


UNDP TRAC resources are dedicated to promoting the goal on energy and environment for sustainable development endeavors to strengthen the capacity of key stakeholders to implement the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) framework roadmap for the next 10 years, thus harnessing the Philippines’ natural capital to meet its people’s needs and aspirations across generations. The program will likewise cover measures that would minimize environmental emergencies, where feasible, decreasing vulnerabilities of affected population by increasing their capacities to prepare for, and cope with, the adverse impacts of such incidents. It focuses on (1) frameworks and strategies for sustainable development (2) Access to sustainable energy services (3) Conservation and use of biodiversity.

The component is linked to poverty reduction, governance and crisis prevention. It works on enhancing the environment’s carrying capacity to support the country’s sustained economic growth, alleviating poverty in the process. As such, it strategically supports key stakeholders in harnessing value from natural resources optimally, through sustainable agriculture and sustainable development.

Main strategies of the program include:

  • Advocating and fostering and enabling policy environment;
  • Developing national capacities, in particular, enhancing key skills of stakeholders on strategic planning, management and knowledge management;
  • Enhancing national ownership, especially in establishing upstream-downstream linkages where practice on the ground informs policy and policy translates into practice; and
  • Forging partnerships for results through innovative partnership mechanisms.

The lead implementing partner for this programme component is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

UNDP/GEF Resources

UNDP/GEF is supports a wide range of project in the Philippines; from small-scale (small grants) to full scale project s above US$1M. But despite the differences in project size, all the projects apply the same dual approach: It utilizes the “top-down” approach since national priorities dictate the projects that UNDP/GEF supports. However it is also “bottom-up” since the community-based approach is used during project implementation.

The GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), which is being managed by UNDP’s Environment Portfolio, is one of the mechanisms being used to mainstream environmental sustainability at the local level. The SGP is involved in the development of small scale new and renewable energy projects such as micro-hydro and community based solar power facilities. It also helps rural communities initiate local biodiversity conservation activities.

More than that of the SGP, UNDP has other bigger projects which utilize the community-based conservation management and multi-sectoral partnership in achieving its goals. One of the projects that incorporate this as a strategy is the Biodiversity Conservation and Management of the Bohol Islands Marine Triangle (BMT). The project is a major initiative in response to the need to conserve the globally significant and biodiversity resources-rich Bohol Marine Triangle situated in the three islands of Panglao, Balicasag and Pamilacan. This is being implemented by Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), a non-government organization (NGO).

The Bohol Marine Triangle (BMT) covers over 1,210 square kilometers and includes the large island of Panglao and the smaller Islands of Pamilacan and Balicasag. This ecosystem is considered to be ecologically significant and diverse areas in the region owing to the fact that the surrounding deep sea environment provides migratory route for whales and dolphins as well as a habitat for these species and a variety of other marine life including, the rich fisheries resources.

What is most significant about this project is that, over the last five years, the BMT Project devised strategies and instituted systems to organize the communities to realize the goal to conserve the resource-rich BMT and to improve the quality of life of the people in the community. Participatory and consultative approaches were adopted that ensured complementation of roles different stakeholders and the implementation of the projects became shared responsibilities. Partnership and linkages were also established with NGOs that geared towards a more effective, equitable and sustainable management of biodiversity conservation efforts in the area.

Initiatives on Disaster Reduction

Today, disaster reduction is a key component of UNDP efforts in crisis prevention and recovery. UNDP first allocated core resources for disaster preparedness in 1989, with an approved policy framework aimed ‘to stimulate the interest and actions needed to create comprehensive disaster preparedness plans, strategies and structures and to promote disaster mitigation activities within the context of development planning and implementation’. The United Nations General Assembly has transferred to UNDP, the responsibilities of the Emergency Relief Coordinator for operational activities concerning natural disaster mitigation, prevention and preparedness. Furthermore, the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) has made considerable progress in developing an implementation framework that adds value to on-going activities in disaster reduction.

While much has been achieved, much remains to be done if disaster loss is not to jeopardize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The linkages between development and disaster risk are not difficult to visualize. Any development activity has the potential to either increase or reduce disaster risk. Disaster risk is not inevitable, but on the contrary can be managed and reduced through appropriate development actions.

The UNDP Environment Portfolio has been, for years, supporting disaster reduction initiatives of the Government of the Philippines at the national and local levels. UNDP has been working with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and selected local government units in the following areas: (1) multi-hazard mapping; (2) community-based disaster preparedness; (3) community-based early warning system. UNDP has, likewise, produced film, TV and radio plugs on earthquakes and floods in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency.

In the arena of disaster response, UNDP is working closely with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) to immediately respond to communities affected by natural disasters (especially typhoons and rain-induced landslides in the past two years). As an example, the UNDP with funds from the Office of Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) developed the project entitled “Strengthening the Disaster Preparedness Capacities of the Municipalities of Real, Infanta and [General] Nakar” or REINA Project.

The REINA project, started March 2005, was designed to prepare the community for disaster in different aspects. It is a continuation of the relief efforts that were assisted by the UNDP TRAC 1.1.3 (Category II); Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the New Zealand Government. The project is divided into three components:

First, UNDP launched the Food for Recovery and Support to Small Entrepreneurs Project in the municipality of Infanta (hardest hit by the floods) in order to create a community based model for recovery after a natural disaster. It is designed to provide food to the affected families in exchange for their contributions to rehabilitation efforts (i.e. clearing of roads, rebuilding of public facilities). The Support to Small Entrepreneurs project is designed to give the farmers livelihood options that adapt to their disaster prone environment. As mentioned above, farming and fishing became difficult for the residents; thus, there was a need for alternative livelihood options to be explored. ICDAI introduced organic vegetable farming and raising of “SASSO” chicken in the community.

An interesting development in the project is the “bayanihan” (or communal) farming system that the farmers initiated themselves. Under this system an idle piece of private land is being cultivated by a group of farmers, each with their own smaller plots within. Taking care of the crops (i.e. weeding and watering) is however, done as a community. This system lowered costs (since there was no more need for hired labor) and made for the best use of the available farmland (considering that most of the farms were covered in mud).

This component is being executed by the Infanta Integrated Community Development Assistance Inc. (ICDAI), a community based NGO serving Infanta for more than 30 years now. The component successfully introduced a new industry to the municipality of Infanta and gave hope to the flash flood survivors. The community is now looking at possible marketing strategies for their goods (i.e. marketing their products as “organic”). They are also looking for new ways to further improve the processes in development of their products. The municipal agricultural office and the local government units are also assisting the farmers.

The second component is on hazard mapping and establishing community based disaster management systems. It is designed to assist the local government units in making informed decisions in adapting disaster risk management measures for the community. This component includes (a) hazard mapping (b) establishment of community based warning systems and (c) development and distribution of IEC materials for the community. Hazards covered under this component are landslides (including landslides triggered by earthquakes and by heavy rains), flash floods, liquefaction and tsunamis. A multi-agency group called the Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness for Natural Disasters (CSCAND), a subcommittee of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), developed the hazard maps. It is the first time that the three agencies – the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical and Services Administration (PAGASA); the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB); and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS)—worked together in developing hazard maps. The residents actively participated in the making of the maps by assisting the scientists in compiling historical data (i.e. previous tsunamis, earthquakes) that are conveyed from one generation to another.

The third component is targeted for first responders to natural disasters particularly rural health practitioners. The goal of this component is to develop and conduct specific training intervention modules for rural health unit physicians on initial management of commonly seen trauma emergencies to include basic life support and initial surgical management (assessment, resuscitation and initial treatment, indications to transfer to a tertiary level) to include pediatric trauma. The contribution of UNDP to this component is minimal. UNDP is supporting the publication of the training modules.

The REINA project is considered successful since it was able to bring together different sectors of society and foster cooperation. It has also created a model that may be replicated in other high-risk areas of the country. UNDP is now compiling the lessons learned from the REINA project and will be publishing the documentation of project experiences. UNDP hopes to repeat the successful model of REINA.

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