| Return to Index | Read Prev Msg | Read Next Msg |

Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Education rather than purchasing is a better option for conservation / Philippines.

Posted By: Guillermo H.A. Santos - responding to Miguel Olvera Novea and Angela Speed
Date: Thursday, 9 November 2000, at 1:58 p.m.

In response to: 'Protecting pristine sites from over-development: is purchasing an option?' (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=283) (Miguel Olvera Novea and Angela Speed)


I am sure Mr Wiese (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=277) will have millions of supporters on the issue of sustainable tourism. There is no doubt in my mind that the environment must be protected, and that development must be sustainable. But we will always run into the question: development for WHOM? Is development FOR people or is development AT THE EXPENSE of people?

The other question, relating to Angela Speed's suggestion (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=283) is: if the environmentalists buy the pristine areas would that not be tantamount to fencing them off from the people?

There is as much objection from governments about the over-enthusiasm of the environmentalists, as there is criticism from the environmentalists on governance.

In some countries, especially in Southeast Asia where marine resources have been over-fished, coral reefs damaged by dynamite fishing, and forests over-logged (with a sprinkling of exceptions), it is not easy to buy these areas for protection and preservation. In most countries, the State owns them. Other social problems exist including the exploitation of child labour.

My suggestion is for us to agree as a group of concerned world citizens (loosely organised, cooperating with UNESCO and all other similar groups) to exert MORAL AND POLITICAL PRESSURE on governments to formulate and faithfully implement a resources use programme.

This will require great political will on the part of national leaders and citizens. We have found here and in the rest of Southeast Asia that political will crumbles when the welfare of the 'poor, underprivileged and dispossessed or disenfranchised members of the society' (including ethnic minorities) is invoked by certain groups. It would be a different matter, however, if the pressure also came from these so-called poor themselves.

I believe education is the better answer, although it is a medium or long-term process. We have found here that once the poor realize the importance and benefits of conservation for themselves, they fiercely identify themselves with it and OWN it. That even diminishes their original demand for funds from government thus they gain more self-respect and group pride. They become more willing to implement the preservation/ conservation and rehabilitation of the environment by themselves.

In 1988, the Philippine Futuristics Society started with the first of our environmental documentary films - the Philippine Forest, the Croplands, the Swamplands. The scripts were written with five-year-olds in mind. These films have been shown in the private and public schools in the Philippines, more than 10 million school children have seen them. We just ask schools to give us a blank 90-minute VHS audio-visual tape and we have them dubbed. The government's Philippine Information Agency, Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture's Soils and Water Management Bureau collaborate with us in this effort. We have very close relations with the national and provincial media (print and broadcast) because of my personal experience in publishing and journalism.

Of course, empowering the people themselves to initiate a sustainable environmental programme consistent with their livelihoods is a science and an art in itself. We have applied the time-tested system of identifying the local leaders, who have the advantage of working with their people in their own dialect, once convinced and orientated, these leaders do the rest.

I cannot argue against the fact that organizing and developing these local leaders needs funding. That to me, is where the financial support should go, instead of buying the pristine areas and incurring some political or even tribal resistance which can be long-drawn out (and debilitating) affairs.

Mr Guillermo H. A. Santos,
Philippine Futuristics Society.


| Return to Index | Read Prev Msg | Read Next Msg |