The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will establish a regional network that will explore the vast potential of bamboo for environmental sustainability and economic resiliency amid worsening climate change.
Bamboo could also provide an excellent source of livelihood for organized smallholder farmers.
This was the major development after the first-ever Asean Bamboo Congress held in Iloilo City earlier this month. The five-day event brought together government officials, scientists and researchers within Southeast Asia, as well as representatives from the World Bamboo Organization, Brazil, Qatar and Peru.
The initiative served as a “decisive output” of the conference as it enabled formal commitment of the signatories towards “a sustainable and climate resilient future for the entire region,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
“With this resolution, we are assuring that we will put our utmost endeavors in the continuous research and development in bamboo production technologies, as well as stronger linkages within the Asean region,” he said.
Bamboo is widely recognized as a “versatile renewable resource” that protects the environment, improves the microclimate, controls soil erosion, protects riverbanks, reduces flash floods, serves as windbreak and sequesters atmospheric carbon efficiently.
It also has good properties comparable to most wood species and offers a variety of uses either in its unmanufactured form or as processed into engineered products, and as such, reduces the demand burden for wood-based products from the forests thereby arresting deforestation.
The attendees to the regional conference were convinced that engaging into bamboo production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provide job opportunities and steady income source among farmer groups, local communities, artisans and workers along the value chain.
However, they also noted that promoting bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation, economic stability and environmental sustainability entails innate challenges that need “science-based decision-making, linking up with all possible stakeholders and dialogue partners.”
While the congress participants decided to do this, they also agreed to share best practices to increase the appreciation and acceptance of bamboo as a cost-effective green
product as alternative to plastic, metal and wood materials.
They recognized that bamboo not only provides food and raw materials for construction, but it also generates local jobs, creating new income streams; lessens flooding, erosion and rising sea level; and is a great source of clean fuel.
Last month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced it was eyeing Panay Island as the center for bamboo production in the Philippines.
Cimatu vowed to adopt the latest technology in producing lumber and timber out of the bamboo stands, which will usher in inclusive development in the island and provide income and livelihood not only to the marginal farmers, and promote Panay as the country’s “bamboo capital.”