Gov’t urged to invest in blue carbon initiatives to mitigate climate change effects

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda is calling on the Philippine government to invest in blue carbon initiatives through the sustainable management of marine resources and marine-linked sectors.
The lawmaker made the call on Thursday after she and seven other senators met with their French counterparts and discussed several matters, including climate change.
“We need to invest in blue carbon initiatives that will help protect our coral reefs, seagrass beds, lush mangrove forests, and other coastal and marine [resources.] Let us implement Philippine environmental laws in our efforts to bring back the bounty and restore the ecological integrity of our bodies of water,” Legarda said in a statement.
According to Legarda, building a blue carbon economy entails creating ocean sectors and businesses that are socially just, environmentally sustainable, and economically profitable. 
“The risks are rapidly growing, not only for those in coastal communities, as climate change drives rising sea levels, warmer oceans and increasingly ferocious cyclones. We need to recalibrate our strategies on climate change adaptation, invest in blue carbon initiatives, and embrace the available solutions that nature presents to us,” Legarda said.
In her statement, blue carbon was defined as “the sequestered and stored carbon from coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses, and tidal marshes.”
“Sequestered carbon from the atmosphere is locked as biomass for a long period, functioning as what is referred to as a carbon sink. Despite being considerably smaller compared to forests, these coastal systems have high sequestration potential for millions of years and are up to a hundred times faster when in healthy condition,” the statement said. 
Legarda said that mangroves and seagrass along the shorelines of vulnerable coastal communities would serve as natural buffers against storm surges, flooding, erosion, and other climate hazards. 
She also said that the country’s coastal resources, characterized by rich marine life, have always been a reliable source of food, employment, energy, and even recreation.
She then appealed to both national and local governments to help ensure the proper implementation of environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and the Clean Water Act.
Legarda said these measures provide for the conservation, preservation, and protection of marine resources, wildlife, and biological diversity.
Eight Philippine senators flew to France to meet with their counterparts and discuss the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two nations.
Among the French officials that they met were Senator Guillaume Kasbarian, President of the Commission for Economic Affairs and Member of Parliament for Eure-et-Loir; Senator Daniel Gremillet, member of the Committee for Economic Affairs and President of the Study Group on Energy; and Senator Mathieu Darnaud, head of the French-South East Asian Friendship Group.
They also met with Madame Gisele Jourda, Vice President of the Committee on European Affairs and President-delegate for the Philippines; and Pascal Chaix, Deputy Director for the International Relations Division of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The Philippine delegation was led by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. 
Zubiri and Legarda were joined by Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito, and Senators Lito Lapid, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, and Christopher “Bong” Go.
In a separate statement, Go said the lawmakers also met with French companies and private sector leaders to discuss potential opportunities and areas of economic cooperation on October 26—the second day of their official visit to France.
Some of the French private sector leaders include those from the energy and transportation sectors, the senator said.
“It is my hope that through these discussions, we will be able to identify potential areas in which the Philippines and France could collaborate for the benefit of both countries, particularly in the fields of energy, defense, and transportation,” Go said.
On the same day, Go said the Philippine delegation also attended another meeting with the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) of France. 
The ASN is an independent administrative authority that participates in regulating nuclear safety, radiation protection, and nuclear activities in France.
After that, Go said they were invited to a luncheon hosted by Senator Mathieu Darnaud of the France-South East Asian Friendship Group.
Go said they also met with representatives from the Economic Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly and the Atomic Energy Commission of France.
Go, chairman of the Senate committee on health, took the opportunity to thank the French government for its multi-million COVID-19 vaccine donation to the Philippines through the COVAX Facility at the height of the pandemic, saying this was a significant boost to the country’s national vaccination program.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the French government for donating COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines during the height of the pandemic. Filipinos will forever be grateful to you for this act of kindness, which went a long way toward ensuring the success of our vaccination program and the safety of our citizens against the threat of COVID-19,” he said. — VBL, GMA News

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