MANILA, Philippines – The Masungi Geopark Project bagged the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Award under the “Inspire” Category during the ceremony held in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 27.
The project was among the winners chosen from 3,000 other entries that came from over 150 countries. This victory is already the 10th international recognition given to the nature-based project.
The UN SDG Awards seek initiatives that mobilize, inspire and connect people to drive action towards a more sustainable future on a healthy planet — those that are flipping the script and rethinking how we live and what progress and development look like.
Masungi Geopark’s Managing Trustees said: “We flip the script by showing that a small group of young people, through their courage, creativity and energy, can form coalitions and bring about transformational change for the nation.”
The award-giving body recognized how the Georeserve’s caretakers’ advocacies have helped shift public policies – 3 legislative inquiries and the issuance of 80 cease and desist orders in the watershed have been made due to their efforts. Over 200 government officials have been trained to replicate the work, and over 20,000 citizens have been directly engaged in the conservation’s activities.
The judges were also impressed with how the project and the team behind it are “bold enough to participate in national legislative inquiries and direct lobbying”.
Masungi trustee Billie Dumaliang treats the award as an “incredible honor” which comes at “a critical time” when their work “continues to be undermined and under-supported” in their home country.
“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,” Dumaliang said during the acceptance speech.
Taking on a brave and positive stride, Dumaliang also recognized the hindrances to their mission: “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.”
According to Masungi, quarrying companies with Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) are currently the biggest threat to the project’s efforts, and they continue to urge the government to cancel the large-scale MPSAs covering more than 1,000 hectares of critical watershed and protected areas.