Legarda calls for blue carbon economy in Philippines to address climate change

SENATE President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda called on the Philippine government to consider investing in blue carbon initiatives through the sustainable management of marine resources and marine-linked sectors which are also vital for climate change adaptation along the coasts.

The appeal came following the Philippine senators’ meeting with their French counterparts where they discussed matters of global concern including environment and climate change.

Building a blue carbon economy entails creating ocean sectors and businesses that are socially just, environmentally sustainable, and economically profitable.

The term “blue carbon” refers to the sequestered and stored carbon from coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes. Sequestered carbon from the atmosphere is locked as biomass for a long period, functioning as what is referred to as a carbon sink. Despite being considerably smaller compared to forests, these coastal systems have high sequestration potential for millions of years and are up to a hundred times faster when in healthy condition.

Legarda explained that the planting and rehabilitation of mangroves and seagrasses along the shorelines of vulnerable coastal communities would also serve as natural buffers against storm surges, flooding, erosion and other climate hazards. Aside from these, the country’s coastal resources characterized by its rich marine life have always been a reliable source of food, employment, energy and even recreation for many Filipinos.

“We need to invest in blue carbon initiatives that will help protect our coral reefs, seagrass beds, lush mangrove forests, and other coastal and marine sources. Let us implement Philippine environmental laws in our efforts to bring back the bounty and restore the ecological integrity of our bodies of water,” Legarda urged.

She appealed to both national and local governments to help ensure the effective implementation of the environmental laws she authored such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and Clean Water Act which provides for the conservation, preservation and protection of marine resources, wildlife and biological diversity.

Moreover, Legarda leads the Philippines’ concurrence to the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which aims to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean by the year 2030.

The 30x30 global target includes the protection of natural maritime ecosystems that serve as one of the main and biggest natural carbon sinks.

Legarda has secured the commitment of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in acceding to the agreement.

“The risks are rapidly growing not only for those in coastal communities, as climate change drives rising sea levels, warmer oceans and increasingly ferocious cyclones. We need to recalibrate our strategies on climate change adaptation, invest in blue carbon initiatives, and embrace the available solutions that nature presents to us,” Legarda said. (PR)