Grant Signing Ceremony

Ambassador Lazaro (far right) was joined by Minister of State for Biodiversity Bérangère Abba (far left) who also signed as a witness to the agreement. Sulubaaï Founding President Frédéric Tardieu (2nd from left) and FFEM Secretary General Stephanie Bouziges-Eschmann (2nd from right) sign the grant agreement for the Sea Academy Project.

PARIS-Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro witnessed the signing of a funding agreement for the restoration of marine biodiversity and the sustainable development of the marine ecosystem and resources in Shark Fin Bay, Palawan at the Official Residence on 15 September 2020.

Dubbed as the Sea Academy Project of the Sulubaaï Enviromental Foundation (SEF), the grant agreement to co-finance the project for approximately €527,000 was signed between the Foundation at the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), a French government fund to protect the global environment, especially in developing countries.

Ambassador Lazaro conveyed the support of various stakeholders in the Philippines for the Sea Academy Project, notably the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) which views the project as a “showcase of sustainable island development in a biosphere reserve and is consistent with the strategic environmental plan for Palawan.” She expressed hoped that the project will actively involve the local communities in the improvement of the marine-protected areas and educate students and the youth on the importance of conserving the marine ecosystem.

Minister of State for Biodiversity Bérangère Abba lauded this “exceptional initiative” which would allow the stakeholders to care for the natural heritage and biodiversity in marine-protected areas, including the protection of coral reefs. She also said that France will continue to support various international initiatives to will advance the protection of the environment and promotion of sustainable development.

Sulubaaï Founding President Frédéric Tardieu said that he has been working in Pangatalan Island and the surrounding areas in Shark Fin Bay throughout the years, in cooperation with the PCSD and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He expressed gratitude for the support of the local community, universities, and Philippine authorities for the Foundation’s activities.

Pangatalan2

Pangatalan Island forms part of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve which operates as an effective living laboratory for conservation and sustainable development through cooperation between the PCSD and the SEF. It combines nature conservation with sustainable tourism, mangrove restoration and community development. (photo courtesy of https://sulubaai-foundation.com/)

FFEM Secretary-General Stephanie Bouziges-Eschmann reiterated the Fund’s commitment to support sustainable and inclusive development efforts in the Philippines and elsewhere, especially in helping strike the balance between biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development of local populations.

The Sea Academy project will run for three and half years and plans to create three community-based marine-protected areas within three neighboring villages of Shark Fin Bay to allow sustainable development by the surrounding fishing communities. The project will involve coral reef restoration and innovative fish-stock replenishment techniques. The project will also provide practical educational programs for school children, internships and scientific missions for university students, and generation of local employment in the management of the marine-protected areas.

Reef restoration

The Sulubalaaï Foundation developed artificial reefs to promote restoration of coral reefs in Shark Fin bay damaged by harmful fishing practices. (photo courtesy of https://sulubaai-foundation.com/)

The approximately €1.8 million project is co-financed by the FFEM, Blancpain Ocean Commitment, Foundation Prince Albert II Monaco among other international partners. END