Asian NGOs to hold biodiversity conservation meet in Butuan

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/25 June)– Delegates of non-government organizations from Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Spain’s Instituto de Promocion y Apoyo Al Desarollo (IPADE) will meet here starting Monday for the three-day first Asian regional conference on the country’s biodiversity conservation and natural resources-based livelihood programs in rural communities..

Organizers said the conference which will be held at the city’s Balanghai Hotel, will “define a common benchmark towards addressing biodiversity conservation issues and concerns as well as improvement of livelihood of rural communities in these countries dependent on natural resources.”

Clustered under the CONVENIO-ASIA with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), they said the meeting will also discuss community-based natural resource management, solid waste management, water and sanitation, and social enterprise initiatives of rural populations.

CONVENIO-ASIA has been implemented in these countries since 2008 in line with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, in particular the goal of attaining environmental sustainability.

Yul Caringas, one of the organizers, said the activity will also focus on the issue of global climate change which has already adversely affected rural populations who depend on natural resources.

“Now, everything comes fast,” Caringas, project director of the Butuan-based Alterdev Services Foundation Inc, said referring to the existence of fast food outlets even in rural areas, adding:

“This has displaced traditional methods of storing food during rainy days.”

Organizers noted that because of the change in monsoon pattern farmers can no longer determine the right time to prepare their farms for planting.

Caringas said this unpredictable weather pattern causes damages to crops in these countries either because of prolonged dry spell or floods which lead to more economic difficulties in rural areas.

He said the Alterdev has been assisting farmers in Agusan del Norte in promoting sustainable agriculture technologies and social enterprise development particularly in the towns of Buenavista, Remedios T. Romualdez, Jabonga, and Kitcharao.

Alterdev, an advocate of sustainable agriculture in Caraga Region, together with IPADE-Philippines, both based here, are the conference hosts.

Nielo Tingson, Alterdev president, said the organization is also implementing a water and sanitation system project in the coastal barangays of Jabonga.

He said sustainable agriculture technologies, particularly organic rice farming and diversified integrated farming system have been Alterdev’s contributions to environmental conservation and the enhancement of rural communities’ productivity in these towns. (Alden C. Pantaleon Jr/MindaNews)