BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — Two cities in Negros Occidental province and a resort in Palawan province have been named among the top 100 “green destinations” by an international environmental group promoting what it called “sustainable destinations.”
The Netherlands-based Green Destinations Foundation presented its Top 100 Stories for 2022 — 100 destinations around the globe which it cited for their “excellent initiatives for sustainable destination development” — when it held its Green Destinations 2022 and the Future of Tourism Summit in Athens, Greece, on Sept. 27.
There was no ranking of those top destinations, which were listed on the foundation’s website under their respective countries in an alphabetical roster.
The coastal city of Sagay, about 78 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital of Bacolod, was recognized for its “mangrove forest protection through community-based ecotourism,” while Bago City on the western coast of the province, some 725 km south of the capital, earned praise for “reviving the majestic diversity” of its watershed.
Club Paradise Palawan was commended for its “multiple projects” on beach cleanups, waste disposal, and “creating income opportunities for local residents and indigenous communities,” among other endeavors.
The foundation noted several striking facets about each of the destinations it named.
In its entry on Sagay, for example, it said, “The local community [at first] did not treasure its beautiful mangrove forest and its wildlife….”
But through the city government’s “social media marketing campaigns,” residents realized soon enough the importance of their own environment and became involved even in such technical matters as “the scientific counting of the species in [its] mangrove forest,” Green Destinations said.
“The beauty of the destination further got displayed in an international movie being filmed there and the accomplishments of the good practice acknowledged through several recognitions,” the foundation said.
To be sure, efforts to protect the city’s environment came somewhat late.
According to Green Destinations, there was a huge area of Sagay’s waters that “was once called the Alaska of the Philippines. People thought fishes in the seas [to be] limitless. [But the] wanton abuse of the marine environment resulted [in] massive destruction of the coral reefs in the area.”
The city thereafter established those waters as a marine reserve to help Sagay’s fisherfolk sustain their livelihood, the foundation said.
Regarding Bago, Green Destinations said the city’s watershed “face[d] a lot of issues that gravely threaten[ed] its equilibrium, [such as] water pollution [and] degrading forest cover.”
The solution was a “diverse combination” of approaches that included waste management and pollution control.
Bago’s residents became “mobilized” to protect their own resources. According to the foundation, this led not only to a better environment but even to other benefits such as an increase in the city’s rice production and the conversion of “upland farms… into sustainable agro-forestry areas.”
As for Club Paradise Palawan in the municipality of Coron, the resort “completely recognizes its role in caring for the community where it belongs,” the foundation said.
It cited the “socioeconomic challenges in its community” which the resort management itself has identified—from water pollution and solid waste disposal to the broader concerns of maintaining public health, promoting education and alleviating poverty.
To that end, Club Paradise introduced an “eco-conserve program” in 2017, with its main objective of strengthening environment sustainability for the welfare of its community.
Stakeholders in these localities say they are inspired to be included among the world’s “green destinations.”
“We are happy with the award given to us…. This will surely motivate us to do more to sustain what we were already successfully doing and that is the preservation and conservation of the Bago Watershed,” Nicholas Yulo, mayor of that city, said.