Environment Month

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Thursday, May 29, 2014


TIME flies so fast. The month of June is just two days away. For environmentalists here in the Philippines, this month is special because it is Philippine Environment Month. This celebration was established by virtue of proclamation No. 237 signed by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1988. The government agency mandated to lead this celebration is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

On June 5, it’s World Environment Day (WED). This global event began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. In the Philippines we are not contented with just a day of commemoration hence we established environment month.

Over the years WED has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.

Like all environmental events, every WED celebration has a theme. This year’s theme, 'Small Islands and Climate Change', aims to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on small islands states around the world. The official slogan for the year 2014 is 'Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level’.

The WED celebration was harmonized with the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States. The aim is to celebrate the contributions that this group of countries and territories has made to the world. These small islands are home to vibrant and distinct cultures and heritage as well as to rich ecosystems, biodiversity and dazzling landscapes.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs lists 52 small island developing states. Singapore is one of them. Small islands are faced with many environmental challenges foremost of which is Climate change. Rising ocean levels is threatening to wipe out if not reduce small islands into smaller pieces of lands. Melting ice and the expansion of the oceans which are both due to global warming are the causes of sea level rise.

Maldives for instance, an archipelago of some 26 low-lying coral atolls located in the Indian Ocean, is at high risk from rising seas. More than 80% of the islands making up the Maldives are less than one meter above mean sea level.

Another problem is waste management. With few lands to dispose solid and liquid waste, they will literally be buried in trash. Degradation of natural resources such as forests and water, coupled with over-population are also major concerns. The Philippines do not fall under the category of small island states. But some of our islands experience the same problems.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 30, 2014.

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