Seventeen (17) years after the passage of Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000), the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, through its Environmental Management Bureau, has embarked on celebrating the Eco Waste Management Summit for the fourth time from January 25-27, 2018 at Vertis North. With the theme, “Sustaining Shared Responsibilities”, the agency embarks on a more inclusive approach in implementing not only laws and ordinances on solid waste management, but also the other environmental laws in the country.

In his speech, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu commends the cities and municipalities in the country that look for better ways on how current environmental laws can be implemented within their respective jurisdictions. Quezon City, whose Local Government Unit has always been determined in their environmental programs, was given a Special Recognition for LGUs for Innovations in Solid Waste Management. Other National Capital Region LGUs given the same award were LGUs of Pasig and Parañaque.

As one of the Philippine legislators known for her environmental advocacy, Senator Cynthia Villar was invited during the event to promote ecogovernance in today’s leadership. She mentions that, “the government cannot fully implement a law if the community does not also take responsibility”. Citing the practice of community participation in the implementation of RA 9003 within her barangay of residence in Las Piñas, she shares that everything is possible if community members know what their contributions may result to. This is where ecogovernance becomes critical—implementation of laws should reinforce positive actions, instead of only penalizing the negative ones. After all, behavioral change is what our laws aim for.

DENR Undersecretary Noel Felongco and Engr. Eligio Ildefonso, Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, both envision that community members become more aware of what their actions can contribute. DENR-NCR Regional Director Lourdes Wagan and EMB-NCR Regional Director Vizminda Osorio highlighted that it is through the partnerships we build with the LGUs that we can truly awaken environmental champions that inherently exist in our communities. The steps we take from here, they said, are all crucial in attaining sustainable development that puts inclusive growth at the center of our goals.

In the course of history, success stories on inclusive government all boil down to community participation. While our laws exist, there are still gaps that we need to bridge in. This is our vision and this is how we, at the EMB-NCR, want to govern.