RP, US sign affirmation of commitment for environmental and energy partnerships
Manila (13 February) -- The governments of the Philippines represented by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Ralph G. Recto - and the United States, represented by United Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Jon D. Lindborg recently signed the affirmation of commitment for the Partnership for the Environment and Energy Programs.
In the affirmation of commitment, the two parties agreed that USAID will contribute about US$73 million to support activities in the partnership and that the NEDA shall help mobilize funds and resources in addition to the said amount. An assistance agreement for the Program was earlier signed, in September 2008, between the two countries.
The signing ceremony was held at the Malacaņang Palace and was witnessed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, US Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, and other members of the Cabinet.
"Through the partnership, we shall be able to strengthen the management of our natural resources down to the local level through ways and methods that are appropriate, effective and innovative." Recto said in his message during the ceremony adding that through the creation of community based projects, more jobs benefiting the regional economy will be created.
He also stressed that the efforts of central and local government agencies shall be supported to manage resources in a sustainable manner.
The NEDA chief mentioned that one of the community-based projects include the Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) which aims to bring development to the poorest provinces in Mindanao. He said this will improve the business climate in the region, make its economic growth more equitable, and promote the use of environmentally friendly renewable energy systems in the region.
The AMORE has been providing renewable sources of energy in Mindanao since 2002 and is developing a sustainable approach to rural electrification hinged on organizing communities for self-propelled development.
"Among the new activities that will be rolled out in 2009, we anticipate a new clean/renewable energy contract, a new rural electrification grant, and two new biodiversity conservation grants," Recto added.
Meanwhile, among the other activities accomplished for urban environmental management include the implementation of solid waste management programs by additional 18 local governments which diverted 25 percent of wastes from disposal to recycling and composting.
Likewise, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) launched the Philippine Water Revolving Fund (PWRF), a lending program with co-financing arrangement leveraging ODA funds with private resources.
The PWRF is a fund that provides loans to help local government units (LGUs) and Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) access loans for water and sanitation projects. To date, 10 water districts have been extended loans through the Fund.
For modern energy services, renewable energy systems such as solar and microhydro were installed in more than 200 villages in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Through these energy resources, almost 45 percent of the total numbers of villages were provided electricity in the region. Also, the Renewable Energy (RE) Bill was passed into a law and the National Biofuels Program has been adopted.
The Renewable Energy Law and the National Biofuels Program are expected to reduce the Philippines ' dependence on imported oil, increase economic activity in the country, boost employment, and contribute to improving air quality by reducing toxic vehicular emissions in the air. (NEDA/PIA XI) [top]