Efforts to conserve the natural resources of the Philippines include strengthening decision-making, improving economic incentives, and strengthening enforcement in partnership with the private sector and local communities.
To improve the natural resource governance of biodiversity, oceans, and landscapes in the Philippines.
We work with the Philippine government to strengthen informed decision making, enhance economic incentives, stimulate public and private sector investments, and reduce environmental crime.
By supporting greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth, we protect the Philippines’ rich biodiversity while improving the livelihoods of those who depend on these resources.
Across the archipelago of more than 7,500 islands that make up the Philippines, millions of people rely on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries for their livelihoods. Yet, these critical natural resources are under threat from exploitation, overuse, population growth, natural disasters, and climate change. A resilient Philippines is one in which communities, the private sector, and government collaborate to protect the country’s environment.
In July 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the five-year Philippines Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) Activity. In partnership with RTI, SIBOL works with the Philippine government to introduce and scale up high-impact environmental interventions that support the sustainable management and governance of key natural resources and reduce environmental crimes and unsustainable practices.
SIBOL is one of USAID’s biodiversity conservation projects working at the national level, and in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, in the Philippines. To achieve the activity’s aims, USAID and RTI partner with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. In addition to its national-level work, SIBOL has set up four sites in key protected areas. National policies, programs, and tools are adapted and rolled out at sites, while local interventions and learnings inform national policies.
- Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape: This coastal area supports thousands of fishers and coastal communities, but is threatened by mining, overfishing, and population growth.
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park & Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve: These forest areas of the ecologically important Palawan province are significant habitats for biodiversity.
- Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape: Threats to this forest area—home to abundant biodiversity and more than 12,000 indigenous people—include logging and mining pressures.
- Siargao Island Protected Landscape & Seascape: This marine protected area is surrounded by the country’s largest contiguous mangrove area and is threatened by over-fishing and the exploitation of other natural resources.
In partnership with USAID, RTI leads a consortium of natural resource management (NRM) and biodiversity conservation experts: The Center for Conservation Innovations PH Inc.; Forest Foundation Philippines; Resources, Environment, and Economics Center for Studies Inc.; and the Zoological Society of London. All interventions follow the project’s Planetary Health Approach, using cutting-edge science, coordinated and inclusive governance strategies, and powerful economic incentives to protect both biodiversity and the communities in and around targeted areas.
Strengthening science-driven decision-making
Using RTI’s approach to political economy analysis, SIBOL strengthens the governance of key natural resources by clarifying authority and coordination—both nationally and at site level—to understand the political climate and current political practice. SIBOL also strengthens land and coastal resource management by supporting the effective participation of communities and other underrepresented groups in governance structures, as well as by developing cutting-edge decision-making tools to improve biodiversity and socio-economic monitoring and analysis. For example, we are adopting new NRM assessment frameworks to support analysis and feedback for adaptive management practices. We are also adopting new tools and applying them appropriately, consistently, and effectively in participatory decision-making processes.
Improving economic incentives
Ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compete with equally ambitious infrastructure investments in the Philippines. To address this challenge, SIBOL promotes economic incentives grounded on economic valuation results and sustainable supply chain studies. Better informed decision-making can then lead to increased engagement of the private sector and local communities in sustainable activities that contribute to overall green growth and natural wealth accumulation.
Biodiversity in the Philippines is threatened by unsustainable practices, irresponsible tourism, and environmental crime. Through SIBOL, USAID and RTI engage with the enforcement community and relevant stakeholders to detect, record, analyze, and respond to environmental law violations. We also work with the prosecution service and judiciary to find solutions for resolving cases more efficiently. At the site level, SIBOL strengthens enforcement structures against marine and terrestrial law violations and the illegal wildlife trade. Lastly, the project improves the use of responsive technologies and evidence-based approaches to reduce environmental crimes through capacity building and collaboration, while enhancing the policies that support environmental enforcement.
The project’s commitment to meaningfully engage with government agencies, NRM bodies, communities, the media, academic institutions, and research organizations will help conserve the Philippines’ biodiversity and protect its precious landscapes and seascapes for future generations.