Ann Dumaliang, the project manager and managing trustee of the award-winning Masungi Georeserve Foundation, speaks about her resonant advocacies at COP27.
Based on a special report made by United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if no solid effort will be made to limit the global warming by 2030, we will be inevitably suffering irreversible effects including the loss of our ecosystems, life-threatening rise of sea levels, and even extinction of species. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 2030 and 2050, an additional 250,000 deaths will be caused by climate-sensitive diseases every year. Conversations around this debilitating impact of climate change and discussions on the ways to mitigate these consequences are front and center at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27). And among the thousands of stakeholders rising to the occasion is the Filipina conservationist and geotourism advocate, Ann Dumaliang.
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TURNING WORDS INTO ACTION
Also known as the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27 is a climate action-oriented conference of the 198 parties who agreed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The parent treaty to the 2015 Paris Agreement and to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the aims of UNFCCC include keeping the global average temperature rise this century as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and maintaining a stable level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, which will “prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.”
From November 6 to 18, COP 27 will hold a series of climate negotiations at the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. With the ultimate aim of translating pledges and commitments to action, of turning plans to implementation, the conference is expected to be attended by 35,000 delegates and over 100 heads of state. Building on previous successes and maintaining a healthy ambition toward a better future, COP27 hopes to be a “turning point where the world came together and demonstrated the requisite political will to take on the climate challenge through concerted, collaborative and impactful action.”
MAKING GOOD ON PROMISES
Among the numerous influential voices contributing to the collective action toward climate change at the COP27 is Filipina conservationist and geotourism advocate, Ann Dumaliang. Ann is a co-founder and managing trustee of the lauded Masungi Georeserve Foundation, a youth-led initiative whose reforestation efforts and sustainable development of the degraded watersheds around the rainforests in Rizal have been recognized by international institutions.
On November 8, 2022, the second day of COP27, Ann Dumaliang was among the speakers at the Global Climate Action High-Level Event titled Making Good On Promises where different stakeholders including industry and civil society leaders discuss how “non-State action must transition from voluntary to mandatory” and address the present implementation gap with “honesty, delivery, and accountability.”
In the multi-stakeholder panel discussion moderated by Nigel Topping, High-Level Champion of COP26 Presidency, Ann was joined by panelists and fellow advocates Yuriko Toike, the Governor of Tokyo, and Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, the CEO of the multinational internet and technology company, Naspers South Africa.
“My climate awakening really happened when I was about 18 years old, when Typhoon Ketsana came in,” shares Ann, referring to Typhoon Ondoy, which ravaged Metro Manila and Luzon in 2009. “More than 600 lives were lost. More than a billion dollars in damages. Lots of floods and landslides that have inundated towns and cities.” She also explains the rapid decline of natural resources in the Philippines. “In 2008, the Manila Observatory reported that the forest cover was at 19%,” Ann continues. “Come 2021, it went down to 11%. So in 2017, when then-Secretary Gina Lopez invited us and challenged us to participate in the reforestation of this area, we took the challenge. Then the Masungi Geopark Project was born.”
Just recently this year, after two decades of actively championing the conservation of the Masungi Georeserve through sustainable conservation development and geotourism, the Masungi Geopark Project won an award from the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SFG) Action Awards, recognizing the bravery of young defenders, environment activists, and forest rangers responsible for the rehabilitation of the 2700 hectares of forestland around the Masungi Georeserve.
FILIPINA CLIMATE HERO
The COP27 panel discussion, which centered on adaptation and resilience in pursuing net-zero carbon emission in the future, also foregrounded the accountability systems needed to transform pledges into implementation. While Governor Koike focused on Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s efforts to accelerate its goal of halving carbon emissions and Mahanyele-Dabengwa discussed how access to digital technologies and skills are impactful to the African youth, Ann Dumaliang emphasized the role of civil society, the public sector, in mobilizing stakeholders and launching initiatives like the Masungi Geopark Project.
“This is basically a youth-led initiative spanning 3,000 hectares or so that is all about landscape restoration, which is a nature-based solution,” explains Ann Dumaliang who, together with her sister Billie, was among the awardees of Vanity Fair’s Changing Your Mind Awards in 2021 for their sustainable tourism project. “In this project, we are doing things at no cost to government. We are financing it through low-volume, nature-based, conservation-based experiences. We were meant to collaborate with this with the national level directly, which was done basically to overcome the number and the multitude of vested interests on the ground.”
Regarding the threats of illegal logging and quarrying in Masungi, Ann Dumaliang has proudly shared how their Save Masungi Movement campaign has helped mobilize thousands of Filipino people in protecting the georeserve against these destructive activities.
“The Save Masungi Movement was able to put together signatures from 20,000 people including prominent personalities and indigenous elders. It was able to create a coalition of 80 organizations to mobilize for the cancellation of these agreements, collaborate with four mayors and downstream communities to support watershed education, and through continuing advocacies, educated more than 200 government officials in replicating the work that we do, and more than 20,000 people having directly participating in the conservation work.”
The Masungi Georeserve is considered to be the country’s last green corridor, which provides a line of defense for millions of Filipinos living in Metro Manila. And with young and passionate nature leaders like Ann, who have been steadfast in her conservation efforts in preserving the Masungi, we are reminded that fruitful change is possible through active participation in the protection of our environment. With her voice being heard at COP27, Ann Dumaliang will surely resonate not only with Filipinos but also with the young people around the world to mobilize and take up space in fighting climate change.
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