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Cooperazione allo sviluppo

 

Cooperazione allo sviluppo

 

Philippines-Italy Debt Swap Program Funds 
More Projects for Sustainable Development

Purisima: Environmental and cultural heritage conservation critical to responsible, sustainable growth

After the approval of two (2) large projects – The Muyong Project in Ifugao and Coastal Resource Management in Burias Pass in Sorsogon, Albay, and Masbate – the Department of Finance and the Italian Embassy announced today the next batch of medium sized (P25 million max) and small-sized (P10 million) projects to be funded under the Program.

Thankful for the support of the Italian Government, Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima affirmed these projects as another stride for the Aquino administration’s campaign for inclusive growth. He said, “We thank the Italian Government for continuing to be reliable partners in our growth story. Our progress on the macroeconomic front marches hand in hand with our bottom-up approaches to development, as evidenced by these projects proposed by civil society organizations themselves.

“The strong focus of these projects on environmental and cultural conservation will protect the wonders that make the Philippines a beautiful destination to millions of investors and tourists abroad. We Filipinos want to be proud to have a kind of sustainable growth that pays deep respect to our natural and cultural treasures.”

The Puerto Princesa Underground River, a UNESCO-declared natural World Heritage Site,  will be given a boost through a scientific exploration to be conducted by a group of Italian scientists, the LaVenta Foundation. In partnership with Tagbalay Foundation, the P14.9 million grant will continue the conservation of the Underground River. Filipino scientists and locals will be actively involved to ensure technology transfer and enhanced capability in presenting the uniqueness of the site. To further expand the tourism potential, alternative sites within the area will also be developed.

Another UNESCO-declared natural World Heritage Site, the Mt. Hamiguitan Range, is among the conservation areas to be funded under the Program, along with the Arakan Valley Conservation area. The Davao-based project implementer, Philippine Eagle Foundation, will engage indigenous communities through conservation agreements in developing about 200 hectares of rainforestation farms, with a grant amounting to P10.5 million.

Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP), a CSO which focuses on assisting indigenous communities develop their own community enterprises, will be able to continue its work through a P13.2 million grant from the program. The areas of intervention are one barangay each from Impasug-on and Malitbog, Bukidnon, and Gingoog and Balingasag in Misamis Oriental. Building enterprises using non-timber forest products is one of the ways of decreasing pressure in the environment and providing sustainable livelihood for the IP communities.

The small projects under the program deal with reforestation and livelihood creation. In the municipalities of Monkayo and Compostela in Compostela Valley province, areas beset by logging, small scale mining, and damages by typhoon Pablo and Yolanda, the Institute of Socio-economic Development Initiatives of Ateneo de Davao University will implement the Balik-Uma Project, an agricultural production and rainforestation project with a grant amount of P7.6 million. This project aims to assist communities in going back to agriculture as a sustainable and viable livelihood preferable over small-scale logging and mining.

Meanwhile, in Bgy. Callagdao, Tabuk City, Kalinga, a 15-hectare grassland will be converted to a center where indigenous trees will be planted and farming, sewing, and food processing will be introduced to indigenous peoples from different tribes. These livelihood activities are intended not only as a means of augmenting income, but also as an opportunity for the tribes to experience working together in a neutral environment, hoping to aid in conflict transformation in a locality affected by inter-tribal violence. This project will be funded with P5.9 million grant.

Seeing the variety of project approaches, Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno says, “We are excited to see which of these interventions work best and in what context. While we look forward to its benefits to local communities, we also set our sight on how diffusion of best practices could bring benefits that would spread development beyond what our funding can immediately contribute.“

He further noted that: “The defense of our environment from extreme weather events grounds on the defense of local communities’ understandings and welfare. By enhancing (empowering) local economies, lands, terraces, woods, hills, creeks, mangroves, fish restocking and so forth will be maintained and strengthened.

All together, the approved projects amount to P52.1 million in grant, with each entity contributing no less than 5% of the total project cost, summing up to P10.65 million in counterpart contributions.

These projects were proposed by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who responded to the Call for Proposals and emerged the most compliant to the requirements of the Call, as adjudged  after a thorough evaluation by the Technical Committee consisting of The Department of Finance and the Italian Development Cooperation of the Embassy of Italy, together with the Technical Committee advisers – representatives from Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine and Italian Civil Society Organizations, and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

 

The Italian Development Cooperation has been for a longtime present in the Philippines  through a series of projects (from the constuction of Hydroeletric plants to the establishment of vocational education structures, from the strong contribution to the Agrarian Reform process to the protection of the children. On the top of the above mentioned areas, the Italian Official aid  has targeted the renewable energy sector.

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