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What does it take to become a sustainable tourism destination?

GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program for Destinations – your journey towards sustainability

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The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) offers customized solutions to your destination’s sustainable tourism development and management needs. Whether you’re working to build a foundation or seeking to take your sustainability impact to the next level, our team of international experts will provide the guidance, support and resources needed to achieve your destination’s training and capacity building goals.

About GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the global expert in standards for sustainable tourism. Founded in 2008 through collaborative efforts by sustainability leaders from UNEP, UNWTO, the UN Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, the GSTC is an independent not-for-profit organization (registered in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) pursuing the goals of:

· Promoting sustainable tourism knowledge and practices;

· Facilitating the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles; and

· Building demand for sustainable travel

At the core of this work is the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a framework to ensure the sustainability of tourism businesses and destinations across the globe.

GSTC Criteria for Destinations 

Danjugan Island

Danjugan Island

To effectively implement sustainable destination practices and to guarantee long-term sustainability, a suitable balance must be established between the four pillars of sustainable tourism: Sustainable Management, Economic Benefits, Community Benefits and Environmental Benefits.

The GSTC Criteria for Destinations (GSTC-D) outline interdisciplinary, holistic and integrative approaches to these four key areas of sustainability objectives, and serve as a common language to promote sustainable tourism at the destination level. Designed as the global baseline standard for destinations, GSTC-D has been vetted and adopted by a number of destinations around the world.

Global Authority on Sustainable Tourism

The GSTC is a UN-endorsed independent organization playing a critical role as the global eader in providing guidance for the development and management of sustainability in tourism. Based on our extensive knowledge base, the GSTC STTP offers both global and regional perspectives relevant to the specific context of your destination’s sustainable tourism journey.

From Words to Actions, to Long-term Impacts 

TCI CB Series II- Green Leaders Forum, July 2013

The Coron Initiative – GSTC Standards Training for Destinations, soon in Coron!

The objective of the GSTC STTP is not to offer a one-time exercise of reviewing what should be done; rather, we will work with you towards tangible and meaningful goals, focusing on the long-term success of your destination’s sustainable tourism development and on-going management practices.

GSTC Expert Trainer 

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, President and CEO, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. – SSTDI, GSTC Country Representative

Susan Santos Cárdenas specializes on sustainable tourism development and stewardship initiatives with Community Social Responsibility (CSR) at grassroots application. A savvy tourism professional and hotelier with more than 20 years’ experience managing sales, marketing, operations, events – M.I.C.E. and human resources development for start-ups and luxury hotel resorts, tour operators, travel agencies, lifestyle events and publications, in the Philippines, Singapore, Peru and Japan.

She had been a keynote speaker & resource person in capacity building and training workshops for sustainable tourism development to include Ecotourism, Community-based and Agri-tourism promotion. She was a consultant and adviser for Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines. She is a founding board member of the Asian Ecotourism Network, Country Representative & Trainer of Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Learn more about the STTP on how we can help your destination or contact us for more details.

Best Practices on Sustainable Reconstruction

Foreword. With the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda that devastated the Visayas coastal regions in 2013, cities and  towns’ local government units including the national government itself were caught unprepared for the “storm surge and powerful winds which unroofed buildings and demolished houses; humans and animals drowned or flew to their deaths. The Philippine government has appointed a “Rehabilitation Czar”, former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who himself admits, it will be a tough job, but doable. We especially share and dedicate this blog to all who are working on the reconstruction, restoration and rehabilitation of the communities, towns and cities destroyed by probably the planet’s worst weather catastrophe. The message is “building back safer” – with sustainable building principles during reconstruction not only to improve resilience to natural hazards in the future, but also to ensure that the opportunity is seized to shift towards buildings and structures that are as energy efficient, low greenhouse gas emitting and climate-mitigating as possible. 

It is important to integrate the principles of sustainability strategically from the earliest stages of rebuilding in order to avoid major failures during reconstruction. The key best practices based on experience from recent disasters and catastrophes in Asia should be kept in mind at all stages of reconstruction, summarized below:

1. Learn from experiences, which dealt with effective and efficient reconstruction, and from traditional building technologies which survived disasters. Many mistakes can be avoided by observing and finding out what concepts and, in particular, what construction practices, functioned well before a natural disaster occurred. Traditional knowledge and building practices have often evolved over long periods of trial and error, and are often both practical and resource efficient.

Coron_Green Reconstruction

Green Reconstructio & Energy for Coron & the Visayas Haiyan/Yolanda devastated areas.

2. Establish and maintain a well-functioning project-management process

A well-functioning management process is the backbone for the success of any reconstruction project. Contracts,  roles and responsibilities should be clarified as early as possible.

Flood Proof Residence_ Palafox Associates

Flood Proof Residence, by Palafox Associates

3. Ensure local participation in decision-making processes

The active participation of local stakeholders in crucial decisions throughout the project process fosters a strong sense of ownership and acceptance for the project, and helps to facilitate care and maintenance of buildings following construction. This is especially true if the users are also the owners of the houses; rented-out dwellings tend to deteriorate more quickly than do owner-occupied homes.

La Jala

Climate vulnerable La Jala Community in Coron, Palawan, where informal settlers enroached mangrove areas that are buffer zones for typhoons and storm surges. Who are to blame if they are the first to suffer climate change effects?

Relevant stakeholders – future house users, community leaders, responsible public authorities, service providers, etc. – can deliver important information and provide support that may be crucial to the project’ success and sustainability.

Ideally, relevant stakeholders should be consulted during the early project-definition phase, as well as during planning and implementation phases. This can be done through a stakeholders‟ workshop”, during which invited stakeholders set project criteria and develop ideas.

At this stage, the responsible local governmental reconstruction agency can also be consulted in order to ensure their support.

4. Anchor the project in the local context

Projects should be anchored in the local context by taking any or all of the following measures:

– Exploring the availability of local know-how

– Considering traditional/cultural requirements

– Working together with and not against the local authorities

– Cooperating with local service providers

– Using high-quality local materials when possible

– Building on and optimizing local construction technologies.

La Jala native community

A typical native hut of the Tagbanua tribe of Coron, Palawan, Philippines. Eco friendly? Yes. Climate resilient? Not really. Thankfully, they are built away from the shores.

Anchoring reconstruction projects in the local context can contribute measurably to community buy-in and a project’s success and sustainability. Local institutions and organizations included in the project process are strengthened and improved.

Community Consultation Coron

Community consultation and education by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

5. Coordinate with other donors to identify potential synergies

Responsible local authorities should coordinate all ongoing and planned reconstruction activities, at least at community level. In addition, however, project officials should contact other development organizations (international and national) to determine jointly the geographical and social distribution of reconstruction schemes based on local needs. Identifying and monitoring the reconstruction activities of other donor organizations and ensuring your project is complementing, not duplicating, other efforts can save financial and other resources. Normally, there are reasonable opportunities to economize on costs of access roads, water and sanitation systems and other infrastructure. Donor coordination can also help to ensure the equitable distribution of reconstruction benefits to communities, especially to areas that are less politically popular.

Photo via PJ Aranador blog.

Korean donated tents in Estancia, super typhoone devastated town in Northern Iloilo.

6. Determine communication and knowledge-sharing strategy

Maintaining effective communication among all the stakeholders is crucial. Numerous sources have reported incidences of hostility towards development agencies by beneficiaries. There has been a lack of clear and regular communication between implementers and future users about options, plans, actions, responsibilities and difficulties encountered in the course of reconstruction projects. It cannot be overemphasized that all agencies owe beneficiaries the opportunity to know what is being discussed, planned, negotiated, rejected or accepted on their behalves. The internationally accepted guidelines of the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) provide successful lines of communication. (See ALNAP, 2005, An ALNAP Guide for Humanitarian Agencies, Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, UK.)

It is also important to ensure regular reporting and documentation of positive and negative experiences. This is important not only for any necessary handing-over to future project managers, but also for the sharing of lessons learnt at international and local level.

Photo via PJ Aranador Blog.

Coordination & information dissemination post disaster in Estancia, Iloilo.

7. Develop a risk strategy

Developing a strategy for how to overcome any potential risks to the project is essential. Risk strategies safeguard the project’s continuation, completion and, ultimately, its sustainability.

Strategies should be developed with relevant local stakeholders. The strategies should define how potential obstacles – whether political, economic, security-related or from subsequent disasters – should be tackled.

8. Conduct regular monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

Regular self-monitoring and evaluation is critical for measuring the progress of reconstruction projects. M&E can be carried out in a rather simple fashion by selecting key indicators (amounts of money spent on different activities, amounts of materials used and timeliness of completion of activities) and then collecting measurements and summarizing them on a regular basis (weekly or fortnightly).

If any indicator shows a deviation from the budget or from construction plans, then the cause for the deviation should be identified, so that remedial measures can be taken. In addition, an external evaluation can assist by providing a second and independent assignment on crucial issues. M&E can be complemented with “impact monitoring”, which is used to assess the environmental and social impacts of project activities. Impact monitoring provides valuable information about whether the project is in conformance with best sustainability practices (and if not, how it can be improved). Impact monitoring is also very useful for building the project partners‟ credibility with the local community, national authorities and international donors.

Houses Mangroves_LowRes

Devastated houses of informal settlers along the mangrove area, Coron Bay, Palawan. Learn the lesson: no one should be allowed to build any structure within the buffer zone for storms and typhoons.

9. Choose the lifespan of houses to be built

Selecting temporary or permanent shelter options has a huge influence on the house design as well as the project’s implementation procedures, budget and time-frame. It is important to decide early in planning for how long the houses should last.

 

10. Provide adequate temporary shelters

Reconstruction programs that are seeking to produce quality results require time for realization. While housing projects are being developed, displaced residents need adequate temporary shelters that ensure humane living conditions and enable residents to re-establish life as quickly as possible. Program budgets should anticipate this need.

Photo via PJ Aranador blog.

Temporary tent shelters for homeless victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in Estancia, Iloilo.

11. Consider reusing and recycling temporary housing components for permanent houses to be built in the future components such as well-maintained sanitary and kitchen facilities can be reused in new reconstructed houses; good-quality materials such as steel beams can be reused also.

12. Consider the overall development concerns and priorities of your organization

Most organizations involved in reconstruction activities have internal guidelines and standards for their activities, including environmental policies. Ensuring that your organization development goals, procedures and priorities are integrated into your project from the start can help to align projects with sustainable reconstruction objectives and avoid unnecessary costs.

13. Follow principles of bio-climatic and adaptable design

Buildings should be designed to be thermally comfortable in their climate zone with no or minimal need for mechanical heating, cooling or ventilation. Buildings should also be designed to enable occupants to modify or “tune” their buildings to suit their particular functional requirements. Adaptable design enables this by, for example, promoting strong structural design with flexible interior space-planning.

Coron_Picking up the piecies

What is your local government doing about climate change? Demand good governance. LGUs must implement their Disaster Risk Reduction Management & Local Climate Change Adaptation Plan. https://sstdi.org/tag/disaster-preparedness/

 

Source: Principles of sustainable reconstruction
An excerpt from UNEP Sustainable Building & Climate Initiative
Author: Claudia Schneider
Sustainable Building and Settlement Development Specialist
Skat – Swiss Resource Centre and Consultancies for Development

 

Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Coron. An opportunity to switch to Renewable Energy.

Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Coron. An opportunity to switch to Renewable Energy.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.  

PHOTO CREDITS: Coron photos – Al Linsangan III- Calamianes Expeditions; Estancia photos – Pj Aranador Blogspot.

World Travel and Tourism Council Report: Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan and elsewhere

Coron_Green Reconstruction

Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific was honored to be part of the invite-only World Travel & Tourism Council -WTTC- Global Summit Japan in Sendai & Tokyo. Summit reports started with the Tourism for Tomorrow 2012 Awards & Winners. The following is a re-post from the WTTC 2012 News & updates starting with the First Session in Sendai, Japan.

Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan- keynote by Norifumi Idee-Japan Tourism Agency

“We are here to hear what we have learnt from the crisis,” said Mr Takamatsu, CEO, Japan Tourism Marketing Company, and session moderator. “The objective of this session is to look at the best ways to manage a crisis with case studies from Japan, but also other countries and the Travel & Tourism industry,” he added.

WTTC Sendai:Disaster Recovery Lessons Moderator Mr. Masako Takamatsu

Given the events of the last decade – from America on September 11 2001 to Japan on 11 March 2011, dealing with the unusual is increasingly becoming business as usual in the Travel & Tourism industry.

According to the Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report published by Impact Forecasting, 2011 was one of the most active years on record in terms of instances of natural catastrophes, so there has never been a more pressing time to consider crisis management and disaster recovery.

WTTC Global Summit Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan

Japan has learnt a lot since March 2011, Mr Idee, Commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism told delegates. “I can tell you that [after the earthquake and tsunami], the government immediately took measures to ensure that the region was safe from radiation and that there was total security regarding food safety.

We have also undertaken a wide range of measures to try encourage a recovery in demand, using high-profile visitors like Lady Gaga to help us in our promotions. And we are grateful to UNWTO and the United Nations generally for issuing reassurances to the world that Japan is open for business. I would like to express my gratitude to them for these measures.

We were delighted to see that WTTC’s latest report suggests that Japan’s Travel & Tourism recovery will be better than expected, with the percentage drop in inbound tourism in 2012 projected to be down in single digits over Japan’s peak tourism year in 2010”.

“Destination Tohoku” campaigns in foreign countries such as the United States help, and we are focusing on the travel trade – tour operator and travel agents – to communicate our messages. But we are promoting domestic as well as inbound tourism.

Disaster Lessons from Japan Railway - infrastructure and transport sector

Mr Ogata, Vice Chairman,  East Japan Railway Company told the Summit that in 50 years of operating the Shinkansen (Japanese “bullet-train”) there had never been an associated fatal casualty. JR East is the largest railway company in Japan – with 4,700 miles of network and 17 million passengers a day on 13,000 trains. Its top priority is safety.

Many lessons from past experiences of earthquakes, e.g. the use of reinforced pillarsearly earthquake detection systems, seismometers, preventing trains from large-scale deviations, plus the education and training of its staff have secured a dramatic decrease in accidents. But in addition to taking countermeasures, it is essential to utilise innovative risk assessments. As a result, on 11 March 2011, there were no customer fatalities or injuries – though because of aftershocks, it took 50 days to restore full operation.

There were lots of lessons learned: e.g. even more early detection systems needed – plus better evacuation systems, and a strengthening of electrification masts.

Bert van Walbeek, Chairman of PATA’s Rapid Recovery Taskforce, and Managing Director, The Winning Edge gave the Summit “Five Points in Five Minutes”:

• Educate and train all stakeholders • Accept joint responsibility

• Respect and understand ‘Mother Nature’

• Co-operate on travel advisories

• We all need to work together to address the problem, in terms of crisis management and prevention.

UNWTO Risk and Crisis Management Coordinator Dirk Glaesser

Dirk Glaesser, Coordinator, Risk and Crisis Management, UNWTO reminded the Summit that whilst crises do occur, it’s the way we prepare for them and manage them that is critical. UNWTO works not just through United Nations systems but also through TERN – the Tourism Emergency Research Network, which groups together public and private sector organisations and associations involved in tourism. “The whole purpose of TERN is sharing knowledge and best practice, and communicating between partner organisations/associations and the outside world, through media,.

It’s all about planning and preparedness,” said Glaesser, “the importance of correct assumptions and strategic contingency planning.”

WTTC Sendai Summit Disaster Recovery Panel Discussion

In the Panel Discussion which followed, Raymond N Bickson, Managing Director & CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, said: “ Whether natural disaster or terrorist attack or other man-made disasters, including health concerns like H1N1 and bird flu, the crisis management tools are all very similar across the board. What helps recovery is the public and private sectors working together – plus India has its own national chapter of WTTC and this has helped us enormously.”

Robert Laurence Noddin, CEO and Representative in Japan, AIU Insurance Company, Japan Branch, told the story of the Japanese crisis from the insurance industry standpoint: “ We had to overcome or deal with three major issues: impact on transportation, getting support to customers and staff; and the availability of data and how to usecontroland communicate it. The sheer scale of the disaster meant that there was huge damage, so we needed to call on an unprecedented number of support staff to assess the damages”.

The Summit then listened attentively to the story as told by Mrs. Noriko Abe, the “Okami” of Minami-Sanriku Hotel Kanyo.  Her story was a wonderful example of a member of the Travel & Tourism industry taking the initiative to help the community – in the aftermath some people had no accommodation, no food, no clothes. How to help them? “We had to help them. There was total confusion and incomprehension as to why this had happened to them. We offered support to 600 citizens – we started a school inside the hotel. Without help, we risked some of the younger Japanese leaving the community to go and live elsewhere. Or even committing suicide out of desperation, especially young mothers. Soour help in fact was a way of rebuilding the community and giving people a reason for living”. On the basis of this closing presentation, the first session of the first day of the Sendai Forum drew the conclusion thatTourism is not often seen as the cement of community solidarity, but it should be. It’s something very human, and can really help when crises strike.

WTTC Global Summit Japan 2012

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.- SSTDI  supports the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Environment Initiative. SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Easy to be Eco! Ways to be environment-friendly

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

‪‎Sustainable tourism‬ development and stewardship‬. Open to all interested on triple bottom line‬ & ‪‎social enterprises.

‪‎Sustainable tourism‬ development and stewardship‬. Open to all interested on triple bottom line‬ & ‪‎social enterprises.

Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Ghandi

Let’s start at home. Do your part to help mitigate effects of climate change, for sustainability and resilience of your ‘hood or city.

There is so much hoopla about the “rape of the ocean”, switching off lights on “Earth Hour”. We get overwhelmed by disaster news such as super typhoons, landslides due to deforestation and mountains of garbage and plastic during floods, that we are just getting confounded and confused by the day on how we can start doing our part for the earth.

Flooded coastal_village. Climate change + global warming.

We complain no end about smog and pollution, filthy floods on typhoons aftermaths, brownouts/blackouts, water shortage, epidemics and uncollected garbage, yet we do not even know where to begin to solve these “environmental” and basic utilities issues.

Every election, we try to choose public officials who are supposed to bring progress to our cities, but end up mostly with broken promises. Then, when a natural catastrophe happens, it is the only time we see them again, “working to the rescue” and aid their constituents, but mostly for publicity and ratings. We are supposed to know better.

So, how do we really begin to do our part, in being eco-friendly and help protect the environment? If Kids found organization to save endangered species and college students become “Green Ambassadors”, for sure we can do it, too! Simple, we begin at home, with our families and with our own neighborhood. Here are some easy, no-brainer, beginner eco steps:

Live frugally. Just buy the basics.

1. Live frugally.
Eco also means economic, and in these hard times, we have to learn to live simply. We don’t have to wait for a disaster (such as the Japan earthquake) to start saving electricity, water; go prudent on clothes or shoes shopping and the like. Just buy the basics.

2. Start your car pool and commute wisely. Save up on gas, parking expenses and carbon emissions with commuting. Avoid taking taxis and you will be surprised how much transport savings you will have at the end of the month.

Reduce toxins. Identify and segregate.

3. Practice proper waste segregation. Here in Tokyo, garbage will not be collected if you don’t separate correctly Avoid using plastics, BYOB. Bring your own bag. Not just to the supermarket but every time you shop. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Be an eco-model among your neighbors and teach them as well. Clean and green your neighborhood.

4. Save electricity. Un-plug all appliances including your PC when not in use. Best to use power strips for multiple appliances and un-plug these so you cut-off most if not, all at the same time. You will see a dip your electricity bill when you start doing this.

5. Save on water. During rainy season, practice rain catchment and store clean rainwater to wash your car or water your garden. This is big water savings for the next dry season!

Rainwater catchment systems

6. When going on a trip, start travelling responsibly. Pack light to avoid excess baggage fees and carbon emissions. Travel to cultural and natural sights but make sure your activities do not destroy the traditions and environment you visit. Start giving back to communities whose natural and traditional resources are threatened or endangered, or even join volunteer trips.

The Coron Initiative – volunteer vacation

7. Last but not the least, get educated, enlightened, pro-active in being green. Make sure to learn at least one sustainable tip a day. There are millions of resources online.  Yahoo Green is a great portal with many useful sources on living green,  nature, food & health, recycling, energy, technology and other essential topics. You can also follow us on Twitter for more on sustainability practices.

These may be small and simple steps, but if done altogether with your ‘hood and city, and serve as an example for your province or region, more people will take notice and before you know it, millions in the country will follow suit. When we make a  difference in our own small way, collectively, this will make a big impact and perhaps, we can convince our so called “public servants”, to start doing their jobs, too.

To know more about green, eco-friendly and sustainable practices for your community, join our Society!

Disaster Preparedness and Management, a must in good governance

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Coron_Green Reconstruction

“Do we have to wait until a disaster overwhelms us before we make the radical changes necessary to protect our world for future generations? If we act now there is much that can be saved which will otherwise disappear forever.” ~ John Gummer

Know the Philippine disaster hazards and corresponding agencies in charge.

 

In these times of global warming and climate change, one is never prepared enough for the mighty forces of nature such as Japan’s Great East Earthquake, in some cases, man-made disasters, such as the Fukushima Nuclear Plant or the latest super typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines, where to date reconstruction and recovery is yet to be fully implemented .

Start at home. Now. For those especially in vulnerable and hazard zones like Japan & Philippines, everyone must be aware and be prepared for any disaster, natural or man-made.

Here are the six basic disaster preparedness at home that you must ensure:

1. Check safety around your house

  • Organize flowerpots and propane tanks to prevent toppling, and check the intensity of block walls and roof tiles.Before disaster occurs: Check your house for safety measures!

Before a disaster occurs: Check your house for safety measures! The DOST- PHIVOLCS call for compliance to building code after the earthquakes in the Philippines. Read article here. 

2. Discuss with your family and household member about disaster measures:

Discuss disaster preparedness with your family. Seriously.

3. Prevent injuries caused by broken glasses. Prepare slippers and sneakers close at hand. For a blackout at night, keep them in place. This is a simple and no-brainer practical prevention for further injuries.

Be ready with rescue equipments.

4. Prepare rescue equipments. Prepare a pinch, saw, scoop, jack, flashlight, etc. These might be expensive, so share with your neighbors the cost and the use.

5. Prepare an emergency pack/ After a disaster, supply of essentials may stop for a few days. Plan for quantity of stockpiles and storage for essentials to be taken out in case of emergency.

Essential emergency supplies list

  • Food and water (roughly 3 days of food for entire family and 3 liters of water per person a day)

    Each family MUST HAVE: Survival Pack.

  • First-aid kit, medicine, etc.
  • Portable radio, flashlight, batteries
  • Cash and valuables
  • Clothes

6.  Join Disaster Prevention drills

Ain't done the drill yet? Just DO IT.

Ain’t done the drill yet? Just do it.

In preparation for an emergency, create a cooperative structure with neighborhoods on a routine basis.

  1. Discussion
  2. Join disaster prevention resident groups
  3. Join disaster prevention drills

If you don’t have, organize one with your neighborhood or community pronto!

“We are now running out of time, and the question now is not what is happening to the climate, but how bad will it be before the world starts doing enough?”  ~ Jonathon Porritt

The Philippines is situated along two major tectonic plates of the world – the EURASIAN and PACIFIC Plates. Aside from this, it has 300 volcanoes – 22 as active, an average of 20 quakes per day, 20 typhoons a year, five (5) of these destructive and 36,289 kilometers of coastline vulnerable to tsunami.  The responsibility for leadership rests on the provincial governor, city and town mayors and Barangay chairmen in their respective areas.

Know more about the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Center and how it should work for you and your community!

Learn the lessons of past disasters. The Philippines is not short of earlier numerous grants, programs and initiatives in disaster education and management. Share this useful Preparedness Procedures before, during and after  Earthquake with your family and community. Do positive. Demand from your public officials on the information and skills. Seek the mass media support and use social media in raising awareness, care and vigilance.

Source:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government Disater Prevention Information and Philvocs.

“First, climate change is the greatest long-term threat faced by humanity… All countries will be affected, but the poorest countries will be hit hardest. Secondly, the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action.” ~ David Miliband

 

Will Don Salvador Benedicto take up the eco conservation challenge?

Foreword. Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB) is a proponent of The Negros Occidental Initiative  the Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework  proposed by our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. (SSTDI) for the province,  with institutional partners Green Hotels, The Clean Blue & Zero Carbon Resorts.  SSTDI  is leading the way forward for the province in espousing Sustainable Tourism: cultural, culinary, conservation experiences in DSB and other sites such as Danjugan Island and Sustainable Agri-Tourism circuits.

The Visayan Daily Star recently reported in their November 12, 2014 issue that the Negros Occidental Protected Area Management Board voted 34-11, with one abstention, against the demolition of illegal structures in the multiple use zone of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) protected area. The latest vote endangers the province’s last frontier and water source, according to the Governor Alfredo Maranon who voted “yes” to the demolition of the illegal structures.  The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) had earlier issued cease-and-desist orders (CDO) to 91 individuals halting the construction of “illegal structures” in the multiple-use zone of Salvador Benedicto. Per PENRO Director, structures located in areas identified under the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act and do not have PAMB clearance in consonance with the NIPAS Act are considered illegal. The Governor added that the NNNP is Negros Occidental’s last frontier; it used to have 100,000 hectares of forest and is the main source of water for the province’s people and for food production, however, now, very little remains.

Don Salvador Benedicto Malatan-og Falls

The youngest municipality of Negros OccidentalDon Salvador Benedicto more popularly know for its acronym “DSB” is situated 2,495 feet above sea level at the mid-center of the province, 47 kilometers of good highway from capital city, Bacolod.  Its composite jurisdiction  includes two barangays (barrios) from Murcia town, three from San Carlos City and two of Calatrava. Established as a town in 1983, it was intended to consolidate the area into a separate and independent local government unit to counter the insurgency concentrated here.  The town got its name in honor of the late Vice-Governor Salvador Benedicto, who was part in setting the Revolutionary Government of Negros Island and Siquijor during the Japanese occupation last World War II.

DSB’s Rice Terraces. Enjoy it while it’s clean and green and no illegal structures obstructing the view!

Today, this newfound town has surpassed geographical, economic and social challenges, with its 10-year strategic master plan for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural & fishery development zones and because of this became a budding “eco” attraction in the province, albeit raw and emergent.

DSB Villa Ica

Though DSB is still pretty much rural, almost like a big barrio, it has already literally paved the way for bigger things to come, such as its infrastructure: impeccable picturesque highway that is the envy and self-touted “most beautiful” in the country. Its climate is moderate; cool for Philippine tropical standards with an even rainfall distribution throughout the year.

DSB’s Kali-kalihan Festival. Photo via DSB website.

Among its rural attractions are historical Barangay Igmaya-an, one of the strongholds of the province’s Revolutionary Government during the Japanese Occupation; the Monument in honor of its namesake, Don Salvador Benedicto; the picturesque mountain ranges of Mt. Mandalaganand Mt. Canla-on;  the remarkable Rice Terraces, a mini-replica of Banaue’s; alluring Malatan-og Falls amidst the lush green forest, ideal for mountain trekking; the 45-meter Hanging Bridge at Barangay Igmaya-an,  the “zig-zag” Road leading to the town and the impressive scenic freeway which provided the shortest route between San Carlos, the farthest city of the province to Bacolod, as well as network links to the rest of the Northern towns and cities. DSB prides itself with indigenous tribes still existing in the area and its folkloric fiesta “Kali-kalihan” commemorating the Feast of the Kali, a long lost culture of genuine Filipino heritage and the oldest form of weaponry, the “Arnis or Escrima.”

DSB Officials at the Tourism Planning workshop

DSB officials are willing and able to work towards sustainable development with its community based rural and agri tourism. However, protecting and conserving its natural environment and resources will be a realy challenge for the public and private stakeholders.

with Tourism Officers and Cultural Consultant, Maeng Java

Last March 2011, I re-visited DSB and gave a talk and presentation on Sustainable Tourism & Best Green Hospitality Practices, emphasizing the need to conserve its natural resources, with careful consideration for the local community while it embarks on new tourism development to ensure its sustainability for future generations.  Attended by DSB’s town officials and educators, invited guests from First District of the province comprised of councilors, tourism officers and civic leaders were present.

Act from “Anagas” the musical, original Hiligaynon musical written & directed by Ismael Java.

Several acts from “Anagas” was especially presented by DSB’s Cultural Consultant, play director and writer, Ismael JavaAnagas is an original Hiligaynon (regional dialect) theatrical presentation with a profound message about the environment.

With this visit and talk with DSB stakeholders, we hope that public and private stakeholders will be enlightened about the preservation of their town’s rich natural resources and will work together with The Negros Initiative, Conservation, Community Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework.

SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Sustainability 101. Towards sustainable cities and communities

Foreword. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Greening a destination – for the tourism industry,  how do you make a city or host community sustainable? For real estate developers, how do you build an eco-town or sustainable subdivision? Check out the essence of a green cities and environmentally sound sites.

Sustainable Tourism, Socio Cultural Responsbility & Environmental Conservation Capacity Building & Training Program.

The Coron Initiative – Sustainable Tourism development and stewardship for Coron & Calamianes Islands.

 

For simplicity, we are using the UN’s definition of sustainability: A sustainable society meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability Triple Bottom Line graphic: People, Planet, Profit.

Triple Bottom Line graphic: People, Planet, Profit.

According to Wikipedia a sustainable city, is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimize the use of energy, water and food, and production of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane and water pollution.

Cities or towns compete with each other globally for the attention of investors. Almost every municipality sites sustainability as one of its key targets, but it is often not clear as to how this declaration translates into action, or if the actions that are taken go beyond green window dressing.

Bacolod City: green or green window dressing?

The first step when steering towards urban sustainability is visible greening: planting trees, promoting subsistence gardening or saving wetlands for birds.

Will DSB – Don Salvador Benedicto keep it green? Keep off greed?

The next steps environmental measures which bring social and economic benefits. Health concerns must put emphasis on quality of water, provision of ecological waste management and cleaner energy.

The Coron Initiative – the framework to a sustainable destination

Waste management can also turn into business, when sorting produces material for local crafts and bio waste becomes a source of energy. Clogged sewers lead to a ban on plastic bags while lessons about ecosystem services are learned when rivers are cleaned and watersheds are managed in an effort to prevent flooding.

Public Market trash, Bacolod City.

Bacolod City’s Public Market trash- can be a source of CLEAN ENERGY!

 

Climate change & environmental degradation effects in Boracay Island

Climate change & environmental degradation effects in Boracay Island

Almost every city in the world is dealing with an influx of people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultural events play an important part in creating a sense of pride in the community and are promoted as a means to support minoritiesCultural heritage is increasingly understood as a resource to be kept alive, both for visitors to cities and for the people who live there.

 

Bacolod City’s Electric Masskara – a sustainable festival? NOT.

In the cities that try to fake it, the grassroots heritage aspects and authenticity disappear as events grow bigger and more commercial. Major events that require substantial investment, such as festivals and sporting events  do not always enhance quality of life for local communities after the television cameras have left.

In Japan: sustainable living with environmental risk IS the way of life. It takes discipline and culture of respect.

Some cities are aware of the links between global targets and local actions. Sustainability measures are taken at the local level, including investment in renewable energy and efficiency requirements for local buildings. More advanced cities broaden the focus to cover social impact and how sustainable development policy is delivered. Watch Tokyo solid waste & recycling management video. Incredible!

Sustainable city, Seoul – rapid urban development with best green practices: transport, energy, water efficiency, sincere sustainability solutions with political will.

Refurbishment of existing buildings becomes big business, public transport systems are improved and sustainable public procurement practices are introduced.

U.N. Shanghai Manual for Sustainable Cities

Green Shanghai – origin of the “Shanghai Manual”-U.N.’s Sustainability capacity building.

Shanghai Manual – helping leaders of the world’s cities use integrated urban planning, management, financing and technology to green their economies and build climate and economic resilience.

While all these aspects constitute progress, it is misguided to think that they combine to create urban sustainability. True systemic change is missing from the picture. Progress to date has been far too slow and incremental changes to business as usual don’t go far enough.

Boracay White Beach (mis)management_Band aid solution and lack of sustainability policy resulting to environmental destruction

The tough road ahead will have to include holistic visionsintegrated planning and brave strategies to implement them. For this to become a reality, the language of money must become more about sustainabilityrenewable energy sources must be fully integrated into urban infrastructure and the pedestrian must become king of the road. Source: The Guardian

Visiting Shanghai’s Urban Planning Museum.Shanghai established eco city framework in 2010.

DO POSITIVE.  Learn the lessons from disasters: take action. Demand from your political representatives to do their job, work towards healthy, clean environment and community. For Metro Manila, hope is seen at the horizon with the Green Print 2030, and people should take action towards livability and sustainability.

Typhoon Sendong in Northern Mindanao aftermath.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotelsdestinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

Sustainable seas, green economy in a blue world

TCI CB Series IV -Green Leaders Conference Workshop

 

Green economy in a blue world. Greening our ocean economies is a challenge that needs commitment from each of us – as the individual consumer, investor, entrepreneur or politician.  A less energy-intensive, more labor-intensive,  less destructive, more sustainable, less exclusive, more integrative approach will lead to more jobs, strengthen intra-and inter-generational equity and empower people to economic participation and greater self-determination. For the Philippines’ 7,107 islands archipelago , greening our coastal and marine resources means sustainable  management, conservation and protection, stronger resilience to economic or environmental shocks and social equity.” ~ The Coron Initiative (source: UNEP).

 

Boracay’s White Beach then and now.

I have been working for beaches most of my tourism career for almost three decades in various resorts in the Philippines. I pioneered in Boracay Island managing small resorts when there were only less than dozen in those days. Then, rapid, unsustainable development and environmental degradation just burgeoned. It was fate that brought me back full circle to the eco-depleted island after twenty years and I decided to do my part to form The Boracay Initiative, if only to enlighten public and private stakeholders to preserve their invaluable source of tourism livelihood.

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

The Coron Initiative, towards Sustainable Coron & Calamianes in the next millenium

I also had a chance to visit Coron, Palawan an emerging tourist destination, and I foresaw that without a Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework, it will suffer the same destruction as Boracay. Thus, we also organized The Coron Initiative with Lead Advocate-NGO, Calamianes Cultural Conservation Network and in 2013, co-organized with our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI.

In 2010, I was also invited to home-province Negros Occidental, and visited marine conservation sites in Sagay’s Carbin Reef as well as Danjugan Island, where illegal fishing is rampant aside from mining threat. From then, I proposed The Negros Initiative, to set up a similar greening guideline for the province.

SSTDI leads Negros Occidental in sustainable tourism and development stewardship.

With my hands-on knowledge and experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer, Carbon Negative and Conservation Leader, I shared the best practices in ecological conservation funded by tourism, the preservation of culture and heritage, while sharing it with the world.

At a recent UNEP conference (January 2012), 65 countries adopted the“Manila Declaration – Global Protection Agreement (GPA)” – to strengthen the protection of global marine environment from land-based activities, emphasizing coastal eco resources as a key factor in the shift to a green economy.  This GPA made in the Philippines is very relevant as its 7,107 islands are rapidly losing rich natural resources due to marine-related commercial activities, such as fisheries, inter-island transport, tourism, mining, etc. These massive businesses leave destruction and escalate environmental degradation, loss of vital coastal habitats, marine biodiversity and shore water quality as it did to Boracay Island, the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs for Philippine Tourism. If not sustainably planned, Coron, Palawan, the next vulnerable tourism hot-spot will follow suit.

Coastal and Mangroves Destruction, Coron, Palawan, Philippines

Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal. ~ Edward Wilson

The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources has implemented an Integrated Coastal Resource Management Program (ICRMP) and the Coral Triangle Initiative  (CTI) to “promote the sustainable development and ensure the long term productivity of coastal resources while providing social services, lessening poverty in coastal communities as well as delivering basic infrastructure.”

SSTDI’Sustainable Tourism frameworks are being implemented in Coron and West Visayas with institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels and Clean Blue Asia Sustainable Beach Management. These “Triple Bottom Line” initiatives are crucial for destination planning and development strategies towards the greening of tourism.  With the Manila Declaration’s commitment to develop policies to reduce and control wastewater, marine litter and pollution, the ICMP and CTI as guidelines, we will work towards a green economy for the Philippines, seeking green investments in tourism that can contribute to economically viable and robust growth, provide decent jobs, poverty alleviation and reduced environmental impacts.

SSTDI’s  Capacity Building programs for cities and communities include Good Governance, Climate Change, Resilience, and Disaster Prevention & Management among others to implement green solutions to global issues for grassroots growth, from policies to practices.

Coron Environmental Forum by The Coron Initiative, a public-private sector cooperation

The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern. ~ Max Lacado

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK and 

The International Ecotourism Society

Waste not, want not: ecological solid waste management

ECO series on Sustainability: Solid Waste and Climate change

 “According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.” –Jay Leno

 

Climate Change & Solid Waste

Garbage = GreenHouseGas emissions. Photo from King County Solid Waste Division.

Let’s start in our homes. Much had been reported, blogged, FB posted and twitted about  the worsening problem of solid waste in Metro Manila and other urban centers in the Philippines. There had been scores of seminars, conferences and fora  conducted to “discuss” ways of solving the problem but not fully implementing them. For how long will it take the country to attain a zero waste economy, no one knows. But, one thing is sure – time is running out and WE need to act. NOW.

Bag-O Plastics recycling plastic into crocheted bags

Bag-O Plastics. Recycling plastic to crocheted bags in Bago City, Negros Occidental

 

Why WE?

The answer is simple, but at the same time, tricky. Consider this: Metro Manila’s solid waste based on studies made by the National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat at the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), is estimated that per capita wasteproduction daily is 0.5 kg; meaning every person living in the metropolis generates half a kilo of garbage a day. With an estimated population of10.5 million, total waste generated in Metro Manila alone could run up to 5,250 metric tons per day, or 162,750 metric tons per month, a total of1.95 million metric tons per year. Definitely, a whole lotta waste!

Let’s start in our HOMES. WE must be part of the SOLUTION by reducing our waste. In Tokyo, if our garbage is not segregated, they will NOT be collected AND we will be fined!

Our daily waste, our daily RESPONSIBILITY. Based on the EMB study, only about 73% of the 5,250 metric tons of waste generated daily arecollected by dump trucks hired by our respective local government units – that is assuming our LGUs are dedicated to their duties to taxpayers. The remaining 27% of daily waste or about 1,417.5 metric tons end up in canals, vacant spaces, street corners, market places, rivers and prohibited places!

Garbage = bad health!

We deserve to live in a cleaner environment, a healthy family, neighborhood, city.

This explains why WE need to act. As we produce garbage ourselves, we are part of the problem. But, we can also be part of the solution by reducing our contribution to the worsening waste crisis and help mitigate climate change effects.

 Why NOW?

This measure is in fact 1o years too late. However, at the rate we are producing waste we will soon be having more of our human-made mountains of garbage amidst us or worse, find ourselves buried in our own trash!

Bacolod City - cleanest & greenest city? NOT!

Bacolod City has 19 dumps like this – cleanest & greenest city? NOT!

The catastrophic disasters and major typhoons that brought about tragedy and casualties not to mention filthy garbage in its course, should strengthen our resolve to do something about our wasteful lifestyles.

Talks about landfill as an alternative engineering solution to the garbage problem for the so-called residual waste, is fine. But where to site the landfill is another issue.

We all deserve a cleaner & greener environment

Mandatory SEGREGATION & 3RS should be done primarily at the SOURCE: household, institutional, industrial, commercial and agricultural sources.

 The most important reason why we have to act now on the worsening solid waste problem is their impact on human health and climate change. Health is a basic human right. We all deserve to live in a cleaner environment- a healthy family, neighborhood and nation. The only way to satisfy these needs is to do away with garbage that spreads diseases in our homes and communities.

Landfills and rudimentary incinerators contribute to global climate change by destroying resources. Methane produced from decomposing garbage in landfill is one of the most powerful greenhouse gasses and is 23 times stronger than CO2 in capturing heat. The less we throw away, the less garbage ends up in landfills, the less methane they produce.

Take ACTION. Get your public officials DO THEIR JOB on implementing Eco Solid Waste Management as mandated by RA 9003!

Take ACTION. Get your public officials DO THEIR JOB on implementing Eco Solid Waste Management as had been mandated by RA 9003!

Republic Act No. 9003 Revisited.  RA 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act” provided the legal framework for the Philippines’ systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that should ensure protection of public health and the environment more than 10 years ago. It underscored, the need to create the necessary institutional mechanisms and incentives, as well asimposes penalties for acts in violation of any of its provisions.

 How R.A. No. 9003 should HAVE worked for your community:

  • Creation of the National Solid Waste Management Commission(NSWMC), the National Ecology Center (NEC) and the Solid Waste Management Board in every province, city and municipality in the country.
  • The Solid Waste Management Board of provinces, cities and municipalities shall be responsible for the development of their respective solid waste management plans.
  • Mandatory segregation of solid waste to be conducted primarily at the source such as household, institutional, industrialcommercialand agricultural sources;
  • Setting of minimum requirements to ensure systematic collection and transport of wastes;
  • Establishment of reclamation programs and buy-back centers for recyclable and toxic materials;
  • Promotion of eco-labeling in local products and services;
  • Prohibition on non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging;
  • Establishment of Materials Recovery Facility in every barangay or cluster of barangays;
  • Prohibition against the use of open dumps;
  • Setting of guidelines/criteria for the establishment of controlleddumps and sanitary landfills;
  • Provision of rewards, incentives both fiscal and non-fiscal, financial assistance, grants and the like to encourage LGUs and the general public to undertake effective solid waste management.

How can we help solve the solid waste problem? Are you doing it now?

Adopt the 3Rs of Ecological Waste Management: REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE.

Adopt the 3Rs of Ecological Waste Management: REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE.

 There are many ways to do it. A highly recommended formula is to adopt the 3Rs of Ecological Waste Management: REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE.

In addition, let us avoid doing these PROHIBITED ACTS under the law:

– Littering, throwing, dumping of waste materials in public places like roads, sidewalks, canals, parks and vacant lots;
– Open burning of solid waste;
– Allowing the collection of non-segregated or unsorted waste;
– Open dumping or burying of biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas;
– Mixing of source-separated recyclable material with other solid waste in any vehicle, box, container or receptacle used in solid waste collection or disposal;
– Manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials;
– Establishment or operation of open dumps; and
– Importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials.

Last but not the least, do positive. Take Action. Demand from your political representatives and public officials to provide the basic services as mandated by RA 9003.

Waste not, want not. Prov. Cliché If you do not waste anything, you will always have enough.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Source and further information: The National Solid Waste Management Commission Secretariat -ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU, DENR Philippines; King County Solid Waste Division. Meguro Solid Waste Managment, Tokyo, Japan.

The Boracay Initiative beckons – a serious call for conservation

We know the problems, we know the solutions. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will. ~ Ex PM Tony Blair

At Boracay White Beach, circa 1990 where Discovery Shores is now.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.  I first went to Boracay Island, Philippines (voted as one of the best beaches in the world) in the late 80’s and we had a most fantastic experience in paradise. We travelled in the typhoon season; there were no air-conditioned buses for the long, dusty and grueling overland ride with the locals and chickens alike; no jetty port – we had to wade in shallow waters to board a motorized small banca,across the strait in rough waters. Boracay was not affected by typhoons then, however during this this season called the Habagat, southwest monsoon winds, we had to land on the other side of the island (Bulabog) and hike all the way to our resort located on White Beach, our luggage, transported by a water buffalo-pulled cart.  There was no electricity, no air-conditioning and no hot water showers in those days, but our stay was pure and simple pleasure. We had the time of our life!

Boracay Beach Club one of the first handful of “resorts” in the island.

WORK AT WHITE BEACH. Little did I imagine that just after two years, I would return to the island and work for one of the pioneer resorts, and stayed further on for 10 years to manage two small properties, tour operations and transport company.  Within this period, I also handled three small airline companies that serviced Caticlan, two were defunct and the ultimate one was Seair, which I had to persuade convincingly to fly there. The rest is history.

Boracay Beach Club now: Astoria , a concrete and glass edifice at the congested White Beach.

PARADISE LOST- WELL, ALMOST. I left Boracay in 2001 after 10 years of working there as I felt that it was excessively crowded, over-developed in a destructive sense and regrettably deteriorating due to lack of Eco-balance. I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Returning exactly 21 years since I first came, with over 500 hundred resorts of all shapes, sizes and prices, there is hardly a trace of the pristine, peaceful and perfect paradise that I first saw. It is just chaotic congestion of lodgings, restaurants, bars, stores crowding with vans and tricycles, with no regard for proper zoning, maximum carrying capacity policies, no conservation value for natural environment, nor ecological protection not to mention, it ranks high in climate change risk, most especially on White Beach’s spectacular shoreline.

What have they done to the World's Best Beach?

What have they done to the World’s Best Beach?

FULL CIRCLE. It is perhaps the hands of fate that made me return to Boracay in 2010, as a Guest Speaker at Events Asia 2010 and as luck would have it, talk about Sustainable Events Management.  With my experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation leader, I shared my knowledge and experience in sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. In 1975, Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists to study Peru’s rainforest long before eco tourism was trendy. With over 35 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives, it is the first to be carbon neutral in the country, doing reforestation projects in a total of 17,000 hectares in the Amazon and the Andes.

PLEDGE. After having seen the current deteriorated environmental status of the island, a  framework for a new Boracay Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, was conceived for stakeholders and local host community.

THE BORACAY INITIATIVE®- A CALL FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT.  The challenge is to espouse and implement The Boracay Initiative© (TBI) – an Environmental Conservation, Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework adapted from the UNWTO & Rainforest Alliance. TBI was presented to the island’s multi-stakeholders at the First Environmental Forum in 2010, organized with the cooperation of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau -Region VI,  Office of the Mayor of Malay, Aklan, Boracay Foundation & Petron Foundation. However, to date, both public and private stakeholders have not taken it up at all.

 

LESS CONVERSATION, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION.  Fate brought me back to the island, which we have come to love and cherish, but it is high time for us to take action, less conversation! We must put all our efforts and resources to restore and conserve Boracay Island, its natural beauty and valuable coastal marine environement to provide sustainability, continued economic vitality and resilience for its stakeholders, the Philippines’ tourism industry and the future generations.

TBI was presented once again, to concerned citizens in the island, with the gracious hosting by Mandala Spa & Villas, multi-awarded Spa and ASEAN2012 Green Hotel winner. This time with the Society For Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. -SSTDI at the helm, TBI’s Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is designed to be implemented with the cooperation of both private and public sector of Boracay Island,  with expert institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & The Clean Blue.

So, Boracay Island and the Philippines, when will you begin to espouse Sustainable Tourism?  Conserve & protect the island/ 7,107 islands for the future generations?

 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

SSTDI is proud to be part of the Founding Board of the ASIAN ECOTOURISM NETWORK and 

The International Ecotourism Society

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