PinoyTrekker.com | Pandemic response should work with nature, not against it | We laud each and every solution put forward by the government, private sector, and the various communities who stepped up to help end this scourge.  Thousands of Filipino lives have been lost and more than 1 million Filipinos have been infected. We agree that a speedy and efficient vaccination program is vital for us to control the current pandemic.

We at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines believe that all solutions to help end the pandemic should work with nature and not against it. Our recent study found that the origins of many pandemics trace themselves to environmental destruction and our encroachment upon natural ecosystems. We cannot protect the Filipino people by repeating the same mistakes that led us to where we are today. We learned the hard lesson with the pandemic and we should act accordingly.

Other countries have proven that the best vaccination programs are the ones that are decentralized and where there is access to the vaccination areas by everyone. Our country should develop pandemic solutions that will safeguard the wellbeing of Filipinos which necessarily include protecting existing ecosystems and natural resources. Nayong Pilipino is an area which is in its first natural succession stage with grass and trees – an essential stage in ecological health. It has naturally established its role in the ecology of not just its area but of the adjacent ecologies of the cities it straddles. It will take time again for it to recover and perform its role when disturbed. With the lack of urban forests in the metropolis, a “rewilding”, such as what happened in the area of Nayong Pilipino, is literally a breath of fresh air for all, even if it does not inhabit our mass consciousness.

Vaccination sites should be accessible to all – a decentralized vaccine roll-out will help Filipinos rich and poor to be inoculated as soon as possible, with lesser exposure to other individuals. The best responses are community-based and people-centered, as shown by various solutions that have worked well and carried our people through the past 15 months.

We can put both people and nature first in the pathways we can pursue out of this pandemic. Our response to this pandemic will also set a precedent for the future development of the country. In prioritizing both the wellbeing of all Filipinos and protection of the planet, we can build a safer, fairer future for all of us. In failing to do so, we risk returning to the same situation we have found ourselves in today.***