The Masungi Geopark Project bagged the highest honor for the Inspire Category in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Awards held Tuesday in Bonn, Germany.
Among 3,000 entries from over 150 countries, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation’s conservation and protection work in Masungi and in parts of the Upper Marikina Watershed impressed the judges.
Masungi trustee Billie Dumaliang expressed in her acceptance speech the foundation’s thanks for the “incredible honor.”
“You don’t know how much this means to us, at such a critical time when our work continues to be undermined and under-supported in our home country,” Dumaliang said.
The UN SDG Action Campaign recognizes transformative approaches and innovative solutions toward a sustainable planet.
Aside from the Masungi team, Dumaliang dedicated the award to their forest rangers and also to people who pose threats to their work.
“To our ranges and our team who are getting their hands and feet dirty who defend our forests, to our partners, our past visitors, our allies in and out of the government…they have made us resilient and they have picked us up when we fell down," she said.
"We would also like to dedicate this award to our opponents: to the quarrying companies, and the land grabbers, their enablers in government, to the people who have said that we are dreaming too big… This is a reminder that we will not stop," she added.
The Philippines remains to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders, according to a study by Global Witness.
Masungi Foundation also congratulated the confirmation of Toni Yulo-Loyzaga as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while hoping for an “action-driven and fact-based dialogue” with the new administration.
“Masungi also hopes not only to dispel the disinformation within the agency but also to help them finally unite and act together as true public-private partners – for the forest and rangers who are in peril due to the illegal entities encroaching on the protected and conserved areas,” the foundation said.
Loyzaga noted in the Commission on Appointments plenary on Tuesday that the crafting of the Memorandum of Agreement between DENR and Masungi Georeserve Foundation in protecting the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape had lapses and should be subject for review.