THE Millennium Development Goals or MDG are eight time-bound goals to tackle extreme poverty signed by 189 heads of states and governments under the United Nations (UN) in 2000.

Ten years later, much has been said about the first 6 goals and how the Philippines look like it will not make the target of cutting this in half by 2015.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The first 6 are to: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Achieve universal primary education; Promote gender equality and empower women; Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; and Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Not much is heard of number 7, though, and chances are it's because government is not doing anything about it. So what is the 7th?

Goal 7 is ticklish, especially because government continues to push large-scale mining in the country's remaining forest covers, indigenous peoples' ancestral domains, and protected areas. Goal 7 is to ensure environmental sustainability.

Chipping down the goal into chewable parts, MDG 7 reads:

Target 7a: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources

Target 7b: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

Target 7c: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

Target 7d: Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020

As indicators of achievement of MDG 7a and 7b, the United Nations Development Programme lists:

* 7.1 Proportion of land area covered by forest

* 7.2 CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)

* 7.3 Consumption of ozone-depleting substances

* 7.4 Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits

* 7.5 Proportion of total water resources used

* 7.6 Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected

* 7.7 Proportion of species threatened with extinction

And so we ask: Why does the national government continue to push mining operations in our remaining forests when everything that mining does goes against MDG 7?

For the past two weeks, workshops and seminars have been held in Davao City with mining as a common concern. Communities are up against mining, and yet, government and the giant mining companies are trudging on unperturbed up where the people's headwaters and watersheds are.

And how does government and mining companies intend to recompense for this extractive industries? By promising roads and schools and water supply systems.

What is not being said is that not one mining community had ever prospered. We only have to look at the Cordilleras and the 100 years and Marinduque with over 30 years of mining to show how this industry will indeed bring in money, but only for as long as the mines yield ores. After that, it's goodbye community. Leaving behind trailings that are toxic and land that has been upturned and left to waste.

No amount of press releases and public relations by giant mining companies can dispute the fact that even in the United States, the poorest towns were mining towns and what were once bonanza areas are now nothing but wastelands.

Now, government sees bonanza in Mindanao and is thus entertaining hundreds of mining exploration and mining production applications.

We just hope that local government officials know the value of every tree and fruit that we are gifted with as against every tree that a mining company will uproot to hold the tunnel ceilings and every knoll that it flattens and see how far into the future the continued denudation, open pit mining, tunneling, and non-stop use of mountain waters to wash out soil from ores can sustain life in their poor little barrios.

Again, let us remember: The Philippines is a signatory country to the MDG, and MDG 7 is our country's commitment to ensure environmental sustainability. And this commitment, having been given by our national government means it also is a commitment by the local government units and the military and government paramilitary as well.