Masungi wins UN Award

The Masungi Geopark Project won the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Award under the Inspire Category, as announced in the awards ceremony held in Bonn, Germany on 27 September.

Out of 3,000 entries from over 150 countries, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation topped the competition for its youth-led efforts in combating deforestation and climate change through the restoration and protection of the Masungi landscape and parts of the Upper Marikina Watershed.

Masungi’s efforts have helped shift public policies and promote accountability — their campaigns have led to at least three legislative inquiries and intercepted at least five major illegal occupations in the conservation area in the last two years. Over 200 government officials have been trained to replicate their work, and over 20,000 citizens have been directly engaged in conservation activities and petitions.

The judges commended Masungi for being “bold enough to participate in national legislative inquiries and direct lobbying.”

They further praised the team for “going above and beyond through their engagement with the general public and the creativity of their storytelling.”

Undermined, undersupported in home country

In her acceptance speech, Masungi trustee Billie Dumaliang thanked the UN and the UN SDG Action Campaign for awarding Masungi “this incredible honor.”

“You don’t know how much this means to us, at such a critical time when our work continues to be undermined and undersupported in our home country,” Dumaliang said.

She dedicated the award to Masungi rangers and team, whom she said are the ones “getting their hands and feet dirty to defend our forests.”

She also dedicated the award to the allies, partners and the entire community who have helped the project endure.

Lastly, she dedicated the award to the “quarry companies, land grabbers, and their enablers in government,” which she said the team will continue to challenge.

“To the people who have said that we are dreaming too big, that this is the way things have always been, and that we are pushing too far — this is for you. This is a reminder that we will not stop. That we will win in the end with our energy and creativity.”

According to Global Witness, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders. Highlighting this during the awards, Dumaliang remarked that they are not only representing Masungi, but all Filipinos who suffer the most from the climate crisis and all environment defenders, who are “risking their lives for our shared future.”

Heralded as one of the most innovative nature-based projects in the world, Masungi has won numerous international awards and recognition — the victory at the UN SDG Action Awards being the 10th.

It is a landmark Filipino forest restoration project that has been lauded for its effective and sustainable models in conservation, engineering, community engagement, geotourism and conservation financing.

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