EARTH DAY celebration started in the 1970s in the United States through the initiative of US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. The celebration aimed to raise the Americans’ awareness on issues involving the environment. Its organizers envisioned a sustained education and information campaign through activities and events that promote environmental programs and activities.
Soon, the celebration spread all over the world. To manage the expanding coverage of Earth Day, the organizers formed the Earth Day Network International (EDNI) based in Seattle, Washington.
The celebration of Earth Day soon found its way to the Philippines, with individual groups marking the day since the mid-1980s. When Mark Dubois of EDNI visited the country in the late 1990s to encourage a more organized celebration of Earth Day, the outcome was an informal coalition of multi-sectoral groups comprising of individuals, organizations, corporations, government agencies and local governments, all lovers of the environment.
In order to effectively celebrate Earth Day, the secretariat was handled by different groups since 1999. The set-up allowed the groups to have a nerve center using the resources and personnel of the host environmental organization, an arrangement that enabled them to stage successfully the celebration of Earth Day year after year.
The celebration has become the primary ecological event in the Philippines, with more and more groups participating in it and more and more Filipinos becoming aware of issues affecting the environment.
In 2006, the informal coalition registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-profit, non-stock organization under the name Earth Day Network Philippines Inc. (EDNPI). A year later in 2007, the secretariat of EDNPI was organized and consequently handled promotion of Earth Day in the country.
The 2016 International Earth Day celebration was highlighted by the opening for signing of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in a high-level signature ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York. Inspired by the Paris Agreement, the International Earth Day Movement decided to launch bold, thematic initiatives, leading to the Year 2020, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
The theme for Earth Day 2017 is “Environmental and Climate Literacy.” Making global citizens fully understand concepts of climate change and recognize threats to Mother Earth requires empowering them with knowledge to inspire action in protecting the environment. Environmental and climate literacy will not only turn out “green” voters and advance environmental and climate laws and policies but will also open doors to “green” technologies and jobs.
Aside from coordinating the annual Earth Day celebration in the Philippines, EDNPI is implementing the following programs and projects in support of its core environmental advocacies:
Trees4Life: TubongPinoy Movement
One of the serious threats to the country’s natural ecosystems is the invasion of alien tree species. It is a great concern especially for biodiversity conservation. The problem, if not properly addressed, may result in these foreign species eventually annihilating the Philippines’ native tree species, severely damaging its forest ecosystems that serve as habitats to a great diversity of plant and animal life.
Hence, the Trees4Life: TubongPinoy Movement, an advocacy campaign for conservation and preservation of indigenous and endemic tree species of the Philippines.
It fosters propagating, planting and nurturing of such tree species and popularizing their use in different tree conservation initiatives. The movement encourages participation of forest-dependent communities through livelihood activities such as gathering of indigenous seeds, propagating of seedlings and planting of trees.
The theme for Earth Day 2016 was “Trees for the Earth” where the International Earth Day Movement set the ambitious goal of planting 7.8 billion trees–one for every person on the planet–by Earth Day 2020.
In support of this objective, EDNPI, with members and partners of Earth Day Network Philippines, signed the Philippine Earth Day 2016 Covenant where they committed to contribute to lofty target.
As part of this commitment, EDNPI is implementing the following major projects under its Trees4Life: Tubong Pinoy Movement:
a)Tagkawayan Forest Restoration Project
On July 17, 2013, EDNPI and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) signed a partnership agreement under the National Greening Program on the restoration of a 200-hectare degraded forestland in Barangay Santa Monica, Tagkawayan, Quezon. Under the partnership, a total of 100,000 sun-loving Philippine native trees are estimated to have been planted and maintained in the area. The project is implementing the second phase of development wherein shade-tolerant Philippine rainforest tree species, most of which have been classified as threatened species, will be planted in-between the trees that have been initially planted in the area, thus serving as the nurse or shade trees.
b) Development and sustainable management of the forest reserve at Clark Green City Project
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is implementing the Clark Green City (CGC) Project–a flagship project of the government–which is a modern metropolis with a mix of residential, commercial, agro-industrial, institutional and information technology development as well as a community of residents, workers and business establishments within a balanced, healthy and safe environment.
Within the CGC project site is a forest reserve, which the BCDA envisions to be sustainably managed as a watershed and biodiversity conservation area to ensure the benefits of a healthy and safe environment for the future city and the country’s current and future generations.
Having recognized the importance of developing a truly green and sustainable city, such as the CGC, which can serve as a model for the development of other cities in the future, EDNPI entered into a partnership agreement with the BCDA and FNSPI for restoration and sustainable management of the forest reserve at CGC.
The forest reserve shall provide basic ecosystem services to the future CGC and for development and management of a CGC Botanic Garden and Ecotourism Park, which, in turn shall provide environmental, recreation, educational and heritage conservation services.
Under the agreement, EDNPI shall be the lead organization for the restoration and sustainable management of the forest reserve at CGC.
Zero Basura Olympics
Zero Basura Olympics is EDNPI’s advocacy campaign toward a zero-waste Philippines.
It is a creative way to implement Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The program is a campaign to gather a critical mass consisting of the government, environmentalists, NGOs (non-government organizations) corporations, cause-oriented groups and other advocates to promote the program toward a “basura”-free Philippines by encouraging them to practice proper waste segregation and install the system within their jurisdictions.
ZBO for Business had its first and second rounds in 2010 and 2013 where participating corporations were audited and later on recognized for their efforts in solid waste management.
An offshoot of the ZBO was the the Mini(mize) Carbon Olympics (MCO) project, which was conceived to support EDNPI’s climate change mitigation and adaptation advocacy, including promoting environmental citizenship especially with the students.
Agos Water Conservation Program
EDNPI, in partnership with Coca-Cola Foundation Inc. (CCFI), launched the Agos Water Conservation Program in October 2011.
It is a nationwide environmental program that endeavors to provide upland communities with accessible and reliable community water systems using the hydraulic ram pumps.
The project aims to raise awareness of upland communities on the importance of water and help them conserve and preserve this precious resource.