Friday, 24 February 2012 10:57
The Philippines is now categorized as a global “strong performer” after gaining higher marks in environmental performance, outranking Australia, the United States (USA), Singapore, and Bulgaria.
In the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI) prepared by Yale and Columbia Universities, the Philippines ranked 42 among 132 countries under the “strong performer” category.
Meanwhile, Australia was ranked 48th, the USA 49th, Singapore 52nd and Bulgaria 53rd, all under the “modest performers” category. A higher EPI rank indicates that a country or region is closer to achieving its established goals in environmental policy.
The EPI, prepared in collaboration with the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Italy, studies data to analyze how the global community is doing on particular policy issues against environmental pressures, and is used to steer individual countries toward environmental sustainability.
“We are pleased that the international community has recognized our efforts on environmental protection and management. We would like to share this achievement with all the sectors and stakeholders, including other agencies of the government, who have collaborated with us in our programs, particularly in cleaning the air and water, forest protection, national greening program, biodiversity conservation, and other environmental protection initiatives,” Paje said.
Based on the study, the Philippines jumped eight places up from its 50th rank in 2010. It retained its ranking of eighth in the Asia-Pacific region, higher than South Korea, Australia and Singapore which ranked ninth, tenth and eleventh, respectively.
For 2012, the EPI ranked 132 countries on 22 performance indicators across ten policy categories under two policy objectives: Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality. The Philippines gained perfect scores in the indicators for outdoor air pollution, change in forest cover, and growing stocks in forests.
Paje cited strong regulatory efforts of the government to obtain cleaner air, as evidenced by the 30 per cent drop in the amount of total suspended particulates (TSPs) from 166 µg/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter) in June 2010, to 116 µg/Ncm towards the end of last year. The normal standard set for TSP by the World Health Organization is 90 µg/Ncm. Particulate matter or dust contributes to respiratory infections and other diseases.
The environment chief likewise credited the perfect scores in the forestry sector to the issuance by the Aquino administration of Executive Orders (EO) No. 23 and 26. EO 23 imposes moratorium in the cutting of trees in natural and residual forests. It also mandated the creation of an anti-illegal logging task force with the DENR secretary as head, and the chiefs of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as members.
Last year, the task force has confiscated more than 10 million board feet of undocumented logs and lumbers and filed 452 cases against forestry law violators.
On the other hand, EO 26 established the National Greening Program to reduce poverty, provide food security and mitigate climate change by planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares over a period of six years. For 2011, the DENR, together with other government agencies, the local government units, the private sector, civil society and other partners were able to plant 69 million seedlings in more than 118,000 hectares nationwide.
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