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MANA Mo 

Filipinos celebrate the month of September for various reasons—Bicol Food Festival, Philippine Bamboo Month, start of “ber” months of the Christmas season, etc.

But of paramount importance to our being a MAN (Maritime and Archipelagic Nation) is September as MANA Mo (MAN Awareness Month). Presidential Proclamation No. 316, issued on Sept. 14, 2017, declared that with a call to action: to encourage “all national and local government agencies and instrumentalities and the private sector … to implement programs and activities that seek to raise awareness and consciousness on maritime and archipelagic issues and concerns.”

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The word “mana” in Pilipino means inheritance. Truly, our being a MAN, including being in the center of marine biodiversity in the world, is our inheritance from God that we must be grateful for and manage well.

Actually, our MAN is lucky that through God’s amazing grace, we have bountiful assets from nature, not only rich marine biodiversity. But many of us are nature-blind in our policy and decision-making. But soon, I hope, just like in the song Amazing Grace, each one of us will say: I …”was blind but now I see.”

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Consideration of the value and vulnerability of nature’s assets—our natural capital, as well as the opportunities that they can offer—must be part of our policy and decision making and operational programs, not only in “reigniting our stalled economy” but in leading our MAN towards a progressive and sustainable future.

The first step is to know nature and the value of our natural capital. We must learn how to measure the value of our natural capital but measurement alone is not enough. Two related quotes on this topic are often attributed to Peter Drucker, the management guru: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak explained Drucker’s view of measurement in an article published by DI. Zak said that although Drucker recognized the importance of measurements, he once told a consulting client: “Your first role is … a personal one … It is the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence, the identification of people, the creation of a community. This is something only you can do.”

Zak concludes: “So measurement, yes. Only measurement, no.” In our case, when many policy and decision makers are nature-blind, the first step is to open our eyes to see and appreciate the value of our natural capital. Then researchers and economists will help on the analytical work with scientific measurements.

This analytical work is the focus of our Task Force (TF) on Recovering with Nature in our MAP Sustainable Development Committee and Partners (MAP SDCP). This TF is cochaired by former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Ciel Habito and DENR official Atty. Ipat Luna. Our TF Partners in natural resource economics, led by Dr. Marian Delos Angeles, have been working on valuation and accounting of natural assets for several years. Also with us are former Silliman University President Dr. Ben Malayang III and the other thinkers and doers.

Atty. Luna is now detailed to the office of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, who as Senator, had proposed a bill to include natural and environmental resources in national income accounting. Now, other legislators, notably Cong. Kiko Benitez, have also expressed interest in this topic.

Before going any further, we want to know what other countries and leading ecology economists are now doing on this important subject, which requires sound scientific methods, collaboration among policy and decision makers in both the public and private sectors, and participation of the general public in many ways.

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Hence, on Sept. 25, Friday, from 12-3 PM, we are holding a special free Zoom Webinar with our special guest speaker, Dr. Gretchen Daily, professor and founder of the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. She is the winner of the Tyler 2020 Prize, regarded as the Nobel Prize in Environment.

We invite especially leaders and managers to attend the Zoom webinar. I’ll use a true famous quote of Drucker in reverse: “Leadership is doing the right things; management is doing things right.” Our leaders in both our legislative and executive branches of government and private sector must lead in doing the right thing to acknowledge and appreciate the value of our natural capital, the need to measure and account for it in a scientific and reasonable manner, and, most importantly, the need to protect, conserve and use it sustainably.

Our guests to help do the “right things” through appropriate legislative measures are Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and Cong. Kiko Benitez. Since we are giving priority attention to our marine biodiversity, leading marine scientists Drs. Rhodora Azanza and Dr. Laura David will present challenges and opportunities in our blue environment and our wealth in the West Philippine Sea. Our TF cochairs Dr. Habito and Atty. Luna and Dr. Delos Angeles, with our team of natural and resource economists, will join the presentations.

This work cannot be operationalized without the participation of business, especially top managers, whose job in this work is to do “things right.” Hence seaweed industry leader Engr. Maximo Ricohermoso will be one of our main reactors. MAP President Francis Lim will be with us, too.

A bonus part of the webinar is the introduction by Adm. George Ursabia, Coast Guard Commandant, of the need of our MAN with about 7,500 islands for hospital ships for our Good Health and Well-Being (UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 3). Marilyn Collette, Special Envoy to the Philippines of Mercy Ships International (MSI) will briefly share with us MSI’s experience in operating a hospital ship. MSI’s new, largest hospital ship in the world will visit the Philippines in early 2021. We look forward to it as the start of our MAN’s potential collaboration with MSI on training and other activities.

MAP will issue the invitations for the Zoom webinar. Those who will not get the Zoom link due to the capacity limit may watch it via Facebook Live: facebook.com/map.org.ph.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP. The author is a Life Member of MAP and chair of the MAP Sustainable Development Committee, is an engineer-economist, with doctoral specialization in decision and risk analysis as applied to environment, energy, maritime and other industries. She now serves as board director or trustee of several local and international organizations involved in sustainable development, science, technology and education.

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