An international environmental expert on Wednesday called on world environment policymakers, scientists and the business sector to find ways to develop business plans that would help promote biodiversity and sustainability.
Dr. Antonio de Abreu, a biologist from Portugal, said investment in tourism that helps promote biodiversity should be encouraged.
Abreu was addressing delegates to the International Conference on Biosphere and Sustainability in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on July 24.
The conference which runs until July 26 gathered over 100 scientists, experts, educators and business leaders from all over the world to discuss how to preserve and sustain the planet’s life sphere.
“Don’t be afraid of investment (on biodiversity). Investment is good (when it helps develop and sustain biodiversity),” Abreu said in a speech during the International Conference on Biosphere and Sustainability held here which was participated by Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan and more than 120 other local and international entities from the scientific, academic, business and government sectors.
Abreu pointed out that the challenge to invest in and develop a business plan “that is economically sustainable and socially acceptable.”
“That is the only way to succeed in this limited planet,” said Abreu, a specialist in Unesco’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserves in Lisbon.
The Portuguese expert cited the Philippines’ unique place in biodiversity conservation as the country is home to three Unesco-recognized Biosphere Reserves (BRs) located in Palawan, Puerto Galera and Albay.
He said these biodiversity-rich regions are good in tourism owing to their natural and cultural riches.
The scientist emphasized the need for stakeholders to tap not only the areas’ natural beauty which are limited but also utilize the richness of its social and cultural aspects.
“This is about our commitment in increasing social and natural resilience as well as promoting behavioral changes,” he said, citing as example BR communities in Latin America that turned away from growing coca plants for cocaine production and became cocoa farmers.
“They are no longer pursued by police and drug cartels. They already have money,” he said.
Investing in BRs to make money should be coupled with providing communities around it alternative livelihood that is sustainable and environment-friendly, said participant Bro. George Maria.
Bro. George, consultant for Yamang Bukid, said the farm has tapped former illegal loggers in transforming an agriculturally-inhospitable area in the city’s Bacungan village into a growing farm tourism destination that is advocating sustainable agriculture practices.
“If Yamang Bukid Farm, being a startup, can do it, so do other bigger businesses. It’s just a matter of commitment from the business sector if it wants to repay what it has taken from the environment,” Maria said.
He said Yamang Bukid also sees to it that dignity of farmers and their concern for the environment is maintained or restored.
“We want for people to have a good, positive perspective towards the farmers. That they are our partner in conserving resources and preserving the planet,” Maria said.
He said behavioural change is not enough. “You do not just inform them about the importance of their participation in environment conservation. You form the farmers into responsible and caring stewards of the planet,” Maria added.