An upland farmer who now has access to drinking water, whale shark guide who sent two of his children to college and boat-builder who helped rebuild boats in Leyte were just some of the faces featured at the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Partners’ Night, where the conservation organization celebrated 20 years of environmental solutions in the Philippines.
Hosted by WWF national ambassadors Marc Nelson and Iza Calzado, Partners’ Night is an annual event to thank public and private sector allies of WWF-Philippines, which has been conserving the country’s natural resources, protecting endangered species and alleviating poverty since 1996.
Among the organization’s projects is the transformation of the town of Donsol in Sorsogon from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling center for wild whale shark ecotourism, where many residents rose from poverty because of the hefty influx of tourists.
WWF works with many allies to conserve the country’s most significant coral reefs and forests, such as the Tubbataha Reefs of Palawan and the Sierra Madre mountain range covering 10 provinces in Luzon. Held every last Saturday of March, Earth Hour – the world’s largest mass-action to fight climate change – is also an annual WWF initiative.
“Our work has taken us far and wide over the past 20 years – through the Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi, the sugarcane fields of Negros – even international battlegrounds like COP-22, which even now is happening in Morocco,” says WWF-Philippines President & CEO Joel Palma. “Through it all, our goal has always transcended mere conservation. We don’t just protect a coral reef – we want to make it healthy enough so fishers can fish there forever. We work to positively transform lives and create a future where people live in harmony with nature.”
A photo exhibit, calendar, newspaper supplement and video series showcasing people whose lives were touched by conservation were unveiled. Heroes of the environment, such as WWF-Philippines founder Dr. Celso Roque, Tubbataha Reefs guardian Angelique Songco, plus slain whale shark guide Joel Briones, were recognized.
“Our corporate, public sector, civil society, media and academic allies have helped ensure that our core thrusts – food and water security, climate change solutions and species conservation – continue to deliver long-term solutions in line with modern times,” adds WWF-Philippines Chairman Aurelio Montinola III. “Alone, we form individual drops – but collectively, we have the strength of a raging river.”
Two decades in, WWF’s work hasn’t let up. Climate change, coastal and land degradation, pollution and overconsumption still threaten the planet – but paw-in-paw with its allies, WWF stands ready to develop solutions to the dynamic environmental challenges the country shall face.
The family of slain Donsol whale shark guide Joel Briones receiving the Hero of the Environment award from WWF-Philippines officials. (WWF)
For more information:
Ms. Miriam Valero
WWF-Philippines Marketing Vice-president
Mr. Gregg Yan
WWF-Philippines Communications & Media Manager