A network of pro-environment groups in the Philippines has been recognized by the Lewis Pugh Foundation as one of 30 global “coral champions.”
The international foundation lauded the People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems (People’s NICHE) for its campaign to protect Manila Bay from destructive land reclamation projects.
“We’re thrilled that the efforts of People’s NICHE in conserving coastal ecosystems and working with grassroots groups have been recognized internationally,” said Jon Bonifacio, acting national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
People’s NICHE is a nationwide alliance of organizations — Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, Center for Environmental Concerns, Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology in the University of the Philippines, Advocates of Science and Technology, Oceana Philippines, Kalikasan PNE, etc — that was established in 2012 to call for the restoration of the country’s coastal waters.
The Lewis Pugh Foundation said People’s NICHE has been “bringing together civil society and grassroots groups to put forward an alternative vision of development that puts people and planet first.”
One of the landmark campaigns of the network is the ongoing opposition to the Bulacan Aerocity reclamation project that is reportedly disrupting the ecosystem and displacing hundreds of families across Manila Bay.
Bonifacio said the global recognition would not have been possible “without our close coordination with the local communities on the ground who are at the forefront of the struggle.”
In a statement, Oceana Philippines said it is proud to be part of the network that champions the “protection of our natural world, and the livelihoods and well-being of our people, most especially our coastal communities.”
“Efforts on creating “visionary alternatives, shedding light on the depths and making a material difference and building reefs” is truly inspiring,” it said.
Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairperson, said the recognition is a testament that “we are doing the right thing for the environment and the community.”
“It affirms the validity of our struggle against destructive reclamation projects in defense of our fishing communities and waters,” he said.
Hicap vowed that his organization, together with People’s NICHE “will intensify our voice to amplify the voice of those who are affected by destructive reclamation projects.”
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