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EO 533: A Big Step Forward for ICM Implementation in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines — The Philippines has a long and rich experience in ICM. Since the first initiatives in the late 1970s, ICM practice has significantly evolved to the integrated and multi-sectoral management system that it is today. The benefits shown on the ground as a result of ICM implementation have spurred further interest for ICM scaling up. The signing of Executive Order 533 by the President of the Philippines on 6 June 2006, declaring ICM as the national strategy and policy framework for sustainable development of the coastal and marine resources, is a major milestone in the history of ICM in the country.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines has been spearheading the development of a national ICM program in support of EO 533 implementation, in consultation with relevant offices and bureaus of DENR at the national and sub-national levels. In addition, other government agencies that are implementing or planning to implement donor-assisted ICM projects have been engaged in the consultation process. A workshop was organized on 29-30 May, with the participation of the Regional Technical Directors for Protected Areas and Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management (PAWCZM) and representatives from various units of the DENR Central Office, including the Manila Bay Coordinating Office, the River Basin Control Office, the Coastal and Marine Management Office, the National Water Resources Board, the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and the Forest Management Bureau. The workshop reviewed existing ICM projects and initiatives, determined areas of convergence, identified gaps, potential constraints and challenges, and discussed alternative institutional arrangements in support of EO 533. The need for improved coordination was emphasized with the recognition that, at present, there are more than $860 million in ICM-related projects being implemented in the Philippines.The key output of the workshop was a Resolution recommending the establishment of an interagency National ICM Coordinating Committee. As a coordinating mechanism to implement the national ICM program, the Committee would be responsible for ensuring harmonization of policy, capacity development initiatives, and technical and resource assistance, across DENR and in collaboration with other concerned agencies and local government units. It would also assist with the establishment of a common monitoring and reporting system, in order to assess the progress and achievements of the scaling up efforts, and to report such progress to the concerned stakeholders at the national and local levels. The recommendation of the workshop is currently under review by the DENR.