CCCPET, NCCA-PCEP, Palawan LGU collaborate on bio-cultural governance training

The University of Santo Tomas Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (USTGS-CCCPET), in collaboration with National Commission for Culture and the Arts – Philippine Cultural Education Program (NCCA-PCEP) and the City Government of Puerto Princesa, held the National Training for Local Government Units on Bio-Cultural Governance: Strategy, Responsibility and Sustainability at Best Western Plus The Ivywall Hotel from November 13 to 14, 2023.

The national training delved into the conservation management of natural parks, particularly those in consideration for the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. It documented the bio-cultural programs and projects of LGUs with UNESCO sites under the World Heritage, Man and Biosphere, and Geoparks programs, to build awareness and enhance appreciation of nature-culture linkage towards development strategy, to introduce bio-cultural governance as the basis for responsible tourism, cultural education, cultural industries, and environment activism. Bio-cultural governance is an iteration of culture-based governance training.

Sen. Loren Legarda began the day with a video message where she discussed the concept of biocultural governance and its significance.

Plenary speaker, Dr. Alvin C. Diesmos, Director of Biodiversity Knowledge Management and Department (ASEAN Center for Biodiversity), focused on the state of conservation in the Asia Pacific Region, providing valuable insights. Joining him were UST Graduate School academic staff that shared key-takeaways with regards to biodiversity, research, and science.

Atty. Nicolas Pichay, the Director for Legislative Library Services at the Philippine Senate, discussed Nature and Culture Linkage: Laws and Jurisprudence. He explained the concepts of natural and cultural heritage and cases related to heritage sites.

Ms. Zorina Arellano, the Puerto Princesa City ENRO Senior Environmental Management Specialist presented the city’s environmental problems, its resolutions, and different programs.

Park Superintendent Angelique Songco of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park discussed the park’s protective measures and management, while Geologist Karl Michael Din, the head of the Geoconservation Committee in the Bohol Island UNESCO Global Geopark, explained the concept of geopark and its goal.

The second day of the conference presented two case studies from Samar and Palawan. Ms. Maria Victoria Punay, a Lecturer of UST Graduate School Cultural Heritage Program and Associate Researcher of CCCPET, presented the Governance: Aspirations and Struggles for World Heritage Nomination of Samar Island Natural Park, while Brooke’s Point Vice Mayor Atty. Mary Jane Feliciano shared insights into the Conservation Management Plan, Issues, and Context of Mount Mantalingahan Natural Park—another site with UNESCO World Heritage aspirations.

The national training is attended by local government workers, newly elected barangay officials from Palawan, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE), Katala Foundation, Zoological Society of London, Center for Sustainability, DepEd, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, LGU of El Nido, environmental science students from Palawan State University and more. This is an adjunct activity of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival of Puerto Princesa City supported by the USAID-SIBOL Project and RTI International.

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