Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sustainability #3: The Tragedy of Our Philippine Coral Reefs and the Need for External Governance

My Sustainability posts spring from my forum posts in the free Sustainability Course, offered by the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, which I am participating in.

Our coral reefs in the Philippines is a common not only locally but one that we share with the world given that they form part of our planet's coral triangle, one of the most biodiverse, if not the most biodiverse, area in our ocean.

Our reefs are getting degraded at an alarming rate. Read more about it in this link. I recently visited Dumaguete where my sister-in-law comes from and I thought it was still pristine compared to Manila. But then I read this article. Not many people seem to be alarmed by the situation. We have a lot of pressing problems as a developing country. We are in the midst of shaking off corruption, we are debating on the much contested RH (reproductive health) bill. But if we don't address problems like the loss of coral reef cover we are headed towards an unsustainable future, not just for the Philippines but for the world. Even our plans for attracting tourists to our country is affected by this lack of awareness and education on sustainable practices. What good would it be to us to attract tourists if we don't plan ahead to keep our natural resources safe and well for generations to come? It may be more fun in the Philippines today...but will it still be that way in the future?

I think this situation is well beyond the sphere of individual action. I think it is even beyond the scope of community action and dialog among fishermen because of the great divide between poor individual fishermen and the big fishing companies. What is required here is intervention by the government. We have a Republic Act on Philippine fisheries and aquatic resources known as RA 8550. But is it enforced? That's the crucial question. Ironically, as pointed out in the Sustainability lectures I've been exposed to...for external governance to be effective we need a government that is NOT corrupt and RELIABLE. Unfortunately, the Philippine government, in its current state, does not yet fit the bill.

So what can be done in the meantime? I go back to individual and community action. The Philippines has a healthy social media community made up of middle class citizens. Perhaps awareness and education on what to do with our commons and the unsustainable practices we currently engage in can be discussed there first. Like Nobel Peace Prize winner Elinor Ostrom, I don't believe the human is hopeless. I'm a stand for a transformed country...and that includes preparing our country for a sustainable future.

The illustration above is from Wikimedia Commons. Source:Benutzer:Devil_m25. Original uploader was Devil m25 at de.wikipedia


Zummi@sustainability Philippines said...

I like your blog. It is very informative and it has a lot of worth points. We should take good care of our coral reefs for us to be able to gain good feed back from nature. Thank you for sharing this.

Ashnia Vicente said...
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