MANILA— Showing its commitment to battling climate change within the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), particularly the Philippines, Norway led on Tuesday a tree-planting ceremony at the La Mesa Watershed in Quezon City.

The activity was attended by no less than Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen, together with the Norwegian Ambassador to the Asean orten Høglund.

“By planting 500 seedlings this year, we are offsetting roughly 74 tons of carbon footprint equivalent to the projected carbon footprint that the embassy is producing per annum,” Jahnsen said.

At the event, the embassy committed to plant 500 indigenous seedlings in La Mesa Nature Reserve, covering one hectare of land in the watershed, in partnership with the Asean Center for Biodiversity (ACB) and ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation.

La Mesa Watershed has been chosen as the project site as it serves as the carbon dioxide sink of Metro Manila. The watershed is also a major source of water for some 12 million residents of Metro Manila.

“With land conversion and degradation rapidly gobbling up forests and other vital ecosystems, any effort to conserve the last standing forests that we have deserves praise. I am glad that we are not alone in protecting and preserving the remaining biodiversity in the region,” ACB executive director Mundita Lim said.

“The Royal Norwegian Embassy’s commitment to support our fight against climate change, specifically the Embassy’s pledge to plant an estimate of 500 trees, could not have come at a better time. This supports the Asean’s latest undertaking the Asean Green Initiative, which was introduced during the 15th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia, last October,” Lim added.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila continues to look for possibilities to reduce carbon footprint in the Philippines and the tree planting is part of the said cause.

Since 2015, Norway was invited as a sectoral dialogue partner of Asean, promoting cooperation in many areas such as peace and reconciliation, energy, trade, and private sector development, and climate change and biodiversity.

For Høglund, the tree planting activity is a way to reaffirm Norway’s commitments to strengthen cooperation in the conservation of biodiversity in the Asean region.

“We urge countries to act together to tackle the global challenge of climate change, and focus on the impact of these changing conditions in Asean and its international relations,” he added.

This year, Norway signed an agreement with the Asean to protect the environment and human wellbeing from plastic pollution. It also hosted the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo where USD64 billion of the total was pledged to protect the oceans. (PNA)

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