Guimaras Province, Philippines — The island-province of Guimaras has become the first in the Philippines to embark on an island-wide Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) program. Guimaras has obtained the support of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) & the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), a regional program implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
Guimaras Governor Felipe Nava, DENR Secretary Jose Atienza, and PEMSEA Executive Director Raphael Lotilla recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement formalizing their partnership to develop the Guimaras ICM program. The ICM program would ensure the protection of the unique and fragile island ecosystem of Guimaras while accelerating socioeconomic development. PEMSEA is hopeful that Guimaras will serve as a good model for the sustainable development of similarly-situated islands in the East Asian Seas region.In a ceremony held on 18 August 2008 in Jordan, Guimaras, Governor Nava and Prof. Lotilla both stressed that stewardship of sustainable coastal and marine resources would require integration and cooperation among the various stakeholders and partners. Assistant Secretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh of DENR noted that the ICM program in Guimaras will contribute to the scaling up efforts of national ICM programs as well as to Executive Order 533 implementation, declaring ICM as the national strategy and policy framework for sustainable development of the coastal and marine resources.A special presentation was given by the Chair of the East Asian Seas Partnership Council, Dr. Chua Thia-Eng, focusing on the key elements for successful ICM implementation that includes governance, a transparent implementation process, a coordinating mechanism, a sustained program and political will. The event was well-attended by representatives from the provincial and municipal governments, PEMSEA, DENR central office, as well as regional and provincial offices, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine Coast Guard, local government agencies, the academe, various nongovernmental organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) and the media.Guimaras has proven that a committed leadership and supportive stakeholders can accelerate the preparation process for integrated coastal management (ICM). The Guimaras Integrated Coastal Management Project (GICMP) is the third PEMSEA parallel site in the Philippines, after Bataan and Cavite. Parallel sites aim to replicate the success of ICM demonstration sites by adopting the PEMSEA approach and methodologies. Guimaras will receive technical advice from PEMSEA while using resources from the provincial government and the private sector in the locality and other potential donors. The active support of stakeholders likewise ensures the success of an ICM site.Governor Nava has actively spearheaded the ICM preparation process. Barely four months after the conduct of the initial site evaluation process, the Province was able to develop its three-year work programme delineating the key activities for 2008-2010.An Inception Workshop involving government and nongovernment stakeholders from the national and local levels was held to build consensus on options and actions to be taken to facilitate project start up. Key activities that will be completed within 2008 were identified and agreed upon as well as the roles and responsibilities of the principal stakeholders and concerned agencies.