NEW YORK, USA --- Mayor Belen T. Fernandez earn plaudits for showcasing Dagupan as a global model on environment for her initiatives to address marine litter, plastics and microplastics to stave off worsening ocean pollution during a five-day forum here last week.
Speaking as a main panelist during the 17th meeting of the Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process (ICP) on the Oceans and the Law of the Seas at the main headquarters of the United Nations, Mayor Fernandez shared the city’s achievements in partnership and positive engagements.
“Cleaning our oceans carries with it a great responsibility that is to be shared by all, and we must continuously seek ways on how to engage other people to think, work and act the way we do. There is no other way,” she stated.
Fernandez impressed the forum’s broad spectrum of stakeholders composed of policy makers, industry leaders, academicians, scientists, government leaders, and representatives from nongovernment organizations where she underlined the crucial role and influence of local leaders in effecting and delivering positive change.
His Excellencies, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra and Nicholas Emiliou, panel chairmen of the forum and permanent representatives of Peru and Cyprus missions to the United Nations, respectively, have jointly expressed the forum’s commendation to Mayor Fernandez for enriching the substance and providing relevant insights and perspectives of local governments in the global action against marine pollution.
Dr. Diego Albareda, chairman of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, also gave a glowing feedback on Mayor Fernandez’ presentation entitled, "Importance of Local Government Unit’s ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 14 on Oceans: Challenges, Lessons learned, Best Practices”. He agreed that the only way to move forward was to strengthen local action through local governments citing the success of Dagupan City.
Affirming Dagupan’s full commitment as a responsible and responsive member of the global community, Mayor Fernandez said she is set to lead the monumental effort to finally close a 50-year old open dumpsite which sits just a few meters across the Tondaligan beach, and to completely halt all dumping activities therein. She likewise affirmed her administrations’ commitment to close incremental portions of these areas by planting trees for the next six years.
She also shared Dagupan’s success on recycling plastic containers for the Gulayan sa Paaralan program, the citywide collection of plastics in public schools for the “Wrappers to Pavers” project, the year-round support to the International Coastal Cleanup campaign and regular cleaning of rivers and esteros, demolition of illegal fishing structures which contribute to dumping of commercial feeds, the continuous dredging of silt and plastics at the Pantal River, strict enforcement of and prosecution of violators of fishery laws, and the comprehensive social amelioration package of health, housing, daycare and other welfare services for waste pickers and their families.
Mayor Fernandez said the acknowledgements and praise heaped upon by the global community serve as inspiration for the city to take the next step by enjoining other local governments along the Western sea board to jointly undertake remedial measures to keep the oceans clean, spur marine biodiversity and attract high end tourist market in the country. (CIO)