THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources led a river and mangrove cleanup on March 21, 2023, at the Iloilo River Esplanade 4 in time for the double celebration of the International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).

Cleanup volunteers involved youths from different colleges in the city and province of Iloilo and learned how to identify various wastes during the activity. Almost a hundred volunteers take part in the river and mangrove cleanup.

Staff from the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 was assigned as the group leader to oversee the waste collection in every segment of Esplanade 4. A total of six segments, stretching more or less 800 meters, are covered during the cleanup. Volunteers collected 36 ½ sacks of waste with an estimated weight of 194.5 kilograms. After the activity, the City ENRO team assisted the DENR 6 with the waste disposal.

The International Day of Forests 2023 adopted the theme: “Healthy Forests for Healthy People” which underscores the basic human need and our dependence on healthy forests to keep us all fit. Meanwhile, the World Water Day theme is “Accelerating Change through Partnerships and Cooperation” which calls for everyone to take action to accelerate change to provide solutions to the ongoing challenge of the global water and sanitation crisis.

No other place within the city could be more attuned to the said celebrations than the river esplanade. After all, it is a success story after a strong collaboration from all stakeholders was forged and change was carried out.

“The government transformed the Iloilo River from a polluted one to an enhanced, clean and attractive place. Each of us plays a role, especially the youths, in cleaning up our environment, in protecting our mangrove forests,” said Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Raul L. Lorilla.

In capping off the celebrations, the team from the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 encouraged all participants to leave their handprints to create a beautiful canvas of a tree using acrylic paint. The piece of art depicts the cooperation of everyone in society, especially the youth, to take action and be part of the better change we all need.

“Like the art we have made, our doing things hand-in-hand or together, no matter how small, will create a bigger impact. We can always contribute to a better, climate change resilient society, to sustainable development with our small actions, wherever we are,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.* (PR/DENR 6)