Friday, April 27, 2018

ZCR, DOT, LGUs, and Private Sectors Hold the National Policy Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Tourism Sector

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Zero Carbon Resorts (ZCR) project, through the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and GrAT-Center for Appropriate Technology conducted the National Policy Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Tourism Sector at the AG New World Manila Bay Hotel in Malate, Manila. The event brought together participants from the national government, including the Department of Tourism (DOT), local government units from different provinces of the country, and private hotel and resort sector entrepreneurs.

The National Policy Forum aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of tourism stakeholders, policy makers, and local government units. Along with that, its objectives are to enable these stakeholders to formulate and implement relevant policies on sustainable consumption and production, as well as to formulate and implement tourism policies and SCP for the tourism sector.

Dr. Wimmer, Managing Director and ZCR Project Lead, GrAT (left) and Ambassador Jessen, Head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines (right)

As it immediately followed the launch of the ANAHAW-Philippine Sustainable Tourism Certification (PSTC) last January 31, the National Policy Forum tackled a great deal of the ZCR Project and its green initiatives in the Philippines and Thailand through a speech by Dr. Robert Wimmer, Managing Director of GrAT and ZCR Project Team Lead, which followed the inspirational messages from Vice Governor Dennis Socrates of the Palawan Province and Ambassador Franz Jessen, Head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines.

Palawan’s Vice Governor Socrates on his keynote message
In their key messages: Vice Governor Socrates discussed how Palawan is considered as “the country’s last frontier” (ecologically untouched) and how they envision to transition the province from fourth world to first world by smartly consuming yet sustainably preserving their rich natural resources; while Ambassador Jessen discussed how they, through EU funding, have helped businesses to switch to more sustainable products and services. “If you look at the small items in Palawan,” he said, “you will see that some spots have been developed.” Still they are doing their best to avoid tourism development mistakes that had been made in other areas of the country—which, according to Dr. Wimmer, are more parallel to “destructive mass tourism” rather than “sustainable tourism.” The latter creates more value in the long run, even though the former seems to be spiking up in terms of profit right now. Yet it will certainly not be sustainable.

Dr. Wimmer while giving an overview about the policy forum and the Zero Carbon Resorts Project
According to Dr. Wimmer, as the climate changes, the goal is to reduce carbon emission. “It is not a question whether or not we do it. It is absolutely needed,” he said, giving examples from the Yolanda catastrophe to the drought in Brazil and California, alarming water levels in Istanbul, Beijing pollution, and even uncontrollable forest fires in Australia due to rising temperature, among others. The National Policy Forum event is essential, “so we can roll out the solution.”

“How can we work together? What can you contribute? How can we make sustainable practices mainstream and increase the positive impact to really make a change?” These are the questions Dr. Wimmer asked to the participants during the National Policy Forum.

The event’s significant highlights include three major portions: situation analysis, desired future and implementation actions, and a panel discussion.

Mr. Nunatavorakarn (Policy Manager, Healthy Public Policy Foundation) enthusiastically sharing Thailand’s relevant experiences
The situation analyses focused on giving detailed situation assessments on the existing tourism policies in the Philippines, the policies in the LGUs, and gaps and barriers and other relevant issues and data gathered from Palawan project experiences. The desired future portion covered the institutionalization of the SCP policies at the local level and the ZCR Project’s Palawan experience, as well as the sharing of international experience from Thailand’s Public Policy Manager, Mr. Suphakit Nuntavorakarn. The panel discussion revolved around the topic on strategies for developing sustainable tourism.

An open forum where the audience could ask questions and voice out concerns either via the digitally powered platform Slido or with an open microphone immediately succeeded each portion.

Interactive discussion between participants and resource speakers

Situation Analyses

(From left to right) Representing the government and LGU sector, Dir. Intong, Department of Tourism; Ms. Tan, Palawan Tourism Council and Atty. Nunag, Bohol Provincial Tourism Council and Amarela Resort Owner, and Dr. Wimmer, GrAT and ZCR Project

The speakers for situation analyses were Dir. Danilo Intong, Office Tourism Standards and Regulations-DOT, Atty. Lucas Nunag, owner of Amarela Resort and Chairman of Bohol Provincial Tourism Council, and Ms. Deborah Tan, President of Palawan Tourism Council.

Dir. Intong, Department of Tourism, tackles about the sustainable tourism policies in the Philippines
Dir. Intong shed light on the National Development Plan and the Tourism Act of 2009 Mandate, which fosters primary planning, programming, coordination, and implementation in order to develop a highly competitive, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible tourism industry that promotes inclusive growth. Along with this, he discussed the RA 9593 DOT accreditation and who can be accredited, National Accommodation Standards, and the Star Grading Scheme, among other relevant topics that explain why tourism should go green and why the industry should go hand in hand with the environment.

Atty. Nunag representing Bohol LGU stating the current updates in the area
Atty. Nunag tackled on the development plans for Bohol (including the new airport), how they started, the challenges they faced (including major earthquakes), and how they have recovered. He also discussed on the “crafting” of new tourism policies in Bohol with the help of development partners, LGUs, and private sectors to be able to transform their province into the country’s prime ecocultural tourism destination.

Ms. Tan discussed the tourism situations in Palawan
Ms. Tan presented data from Palawan Tourism Council covering sociocultural issues in the tourism industry, including cultural erosion (displacement or forced migration for locals), tension between locals and tourists, and prostitution and human trafficking—and how they tried to prevent and resolve them. She also covered environmental issues such as global warming and climate change. She encouraged everyone to ask themselves their travel carbon footprint which most travelers are not conscious of.

Executive Director of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Dir. Devanadera, El Nido Vice Mayor Corral, and Provincial Tourism Officer Ms. Buñi sharing their insights on the topics discussed by the presenters during the morning sessions
The open forum that followed was headed by Dir. Nelson Devanadera, Executive Director of PCSDS, Hon. Leonor Corral, Vice Mayor of El Nido, and Ms. Maribel Buñi, Provincial Tourism Officer of Palawan.

Desired Future and Implementation Actions

Open forum with the guest speakers from LGUs and private sectors in the Philippines and Thailand
Engr. Frediswinda de Guzman (Engineer IV, Green Building Unit, Department of Building Official, Local Government of Quezon City), Engr. Armando Comandao, EnP, pice(Coordinator, City Planning and Development Department City Zoning Officer and City Green Building Officer, Local Government of Mandaluyong City), along with Atty. Adelina Benavente-Villena (Project Team Lead, PCSDS-ZCR) and Mr. Ruben Tan, Jr. (Chairman and CEO, Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort), gave their presentations.

(Left to right) Engr. Armando Comandao, EnP, pice and Engr. Frediswinda de Guzman representing the local government of Mandaluyong and Quezon City, respectively, and discussing their city’s building code
Engr. De Guzman and Engr. Comandao both discussed on the Green Building policies and regulations for their respective cities, which were both almost similar with minor adjustments and differences, which according to them, vary from every city’s needs. They also discussed how they are putting these policies into the mainstream by making them a requirement prior to accreditation and by focusing on incentives rather than punishment.

PCSDS-ZCR Project Team Lead, Atty. Villena conferring about the achievements of the ZCR Project in Palawan
Atty. Villena discoursed the ZCR Project in Palawan and the value it brought for the people, the business, and most of all, the environment—how they have helped few islands that are not connected with central energy grids to produce their own energy.

President and CEO of Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, ZCR Frontier Group member, Hall of Famer ASEAN Green Hotel Awardee and 2018–2020 ASEAN Tourism Standards (ASTA) award winner talked about its experiences toward achieving success
While responders from the audience expressed that the support they get from their respective local government units and regional agencies do not meet their expectation of dependability, Mr. Ruben Tan’s success with the Daluyon Beach Resort is a different story. It’s in a community that previously had no energy source themselves, yet Mr. Tan shared how he spearheaded the community to improve the situation in their area through cultural exchange and by partnering with organizations, providing livelihoods, and promoting tourism in a way that is not destructive for the environment. “It is our duty to be responsible individuals who can help save the environment,” Mr. Tan expressed.

Discussion time with Mr. Nunatavorakarn of HPPF, ZCR Project from Thailand
The speaker who discussed on implementation actions was Mr. Suphakit Nuntavorakarn, Thailand’s Public Policy Manager. He talked about the cruciality of sustainable tourism in his own country, which ranked low among 136 countries in terms of environmental sustainability—and how they are addressing this with the help of the ZCR Project through the implementation of 3R measures, use of renewable energy, and various solutions for waste management.

Strategies for Development

Interactive open discussion with panel members
The panel discussion focused on strategies for developing sustainable tourism and SCP policy consisted of Arch. Miguel Guerrero III (Chairman, Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines), Mr. Nuntavorakarn, Engr. de Guzman, and Engr. Comandao. The moderators were Atty. Rio Jean Quindara (PCSDS-Policy Specialist) and Dr. Leah de la Rosa (Research Coordinator, University of Santo Tomas EDGE Assessor, Philippine Green Building).

Participants actively raising their questions during open forum

With the participation of the audience, the discussion covered topics on: how the green building should be a prerequisite for every city yet how it has to be tailored based on the specifications of every area; how organizations such as the ZCR Project can help areas who need support by providing support in return such as in terms of data and information, timeline, and problem definition; how establishments can leverage the two sectors of tourism, ecological (natural) and cultural (heritage, intangible, beliefs, religious, etc.); how the Philippines and certain undeveloped but promising areas can have a great start by becoming a part of the sustainability cycle as early as now; and how a “policy” must be made simple, measurable, and focused on positive incentives instead of negative penalties.

Dir. Devanadera (PCSDS), Dir. Intong (DOT), EU Ambassador Jessen (EU Delegation to the Philippines), Palawan Vice Mayor Socrates (left) awarding certificate of appreciation
With strong partnership with DOT and TIEZA, LGUs, and with the expertise of the ZCR Project and support from the EU, establishments in the Philippines—be it buildings, hotels, and resorts—can become an integral part of green growth. As Atty. Quindara said, “There is power in numbers. Come up with a group that will be heard. With numbers you can go anywhere.”

Dr. Wimmer (GrAT – ZCR) and Dir Devanadera (PCSDS) encouraging all the participants to partake on committing themselves towards sustainability
Apart from a brief closing remark, the event ended with commitment signing from every participant as a pact where everyone promises to take part in achieving sustainable tourism.

All event attendees participating in the group photo

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for reposting our article, Wazzup Pilipinas! - ZCR - GrAT team


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