Environment officials, scientists, and researchers in Southeast Asia have agreed to establish a regional network that will explore the vast potential of bamboo for environmental sustainability and economic resiliency in the midst of climate change.

The establishment of the ASEAN Bamboo Network was the most prominent feature of the resolution adopted by participants to the first-ever ASEAN Bamboo Congress held in Iloilo City from August 12 to 16.

Organized by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the five-day event brought together government officials, scientists and researchers within the ASEAN region, as well as representatives from the World Bamboo Organization, Brazil, Qatar and Peru.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu described the resolution as a “decisive output” of the conference as it enabled formal commitment of the signatories towards “a sustainable and climate resilient future for the entire region.”

“With this resolution, we are assuring that we will put our utmost endeavors in the continuous research and development in bamboo production technologies, as well as stronger linkages within the ASEAN region,” Cimatu pointed out.

Bamboo is widely recognized as a “versatile renewable resource” that protects the environment, improves the microclimate, controls soil erosion, protects riverbanks, reduces flash floods, serves as windbreak, and sequesters atmospheric carbon efficiently.

It also has good properties comparable to most wood species and offers a variety of uses either in its unmanufactured form or as processed into engineered products, and as such, reduces the demand burden for wood-based products from the forests thereby arresting deforestation.

The attendees to the regional conference were convinced that engaging into bamboo production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provide job opportunities and steady income source among farmer groups, local communities, artisans and workers along the value chain.

However, they also recognized the fact that promoting bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation, economic stability and environmental sustainability entails innate challenges that need science-based decision-making, linking up with all possible stakeholders and dialogue partners.

This is exactly what the congress participants want to address to achieve enhanced technical collaboration, efficient resource mobilization, inclusive development strategies, clear and effective regulations, broad public awareness and enhanced capacities.

The signatories to the resolution have resolved to enhance partnership to come up with science-based strategies in improving the conditions of bamboo forests and dependent industries in the region.

They also agreed to share best practices to increase the appreciation and acceptance of bamboo as a cost-effective green product as alternative to plastic, metal and wood materials.

At the same time, they approved of the plan to hold the Bamboo Congress every three years to sustain the efforts on expanding ASEAN bamboo concerns in the world map, re-examine the strategies that have been undertaken, and bring into active discussion the new and emerging challenges on bamboo that the region may have to engage in.

ERDB Director Sofio Quintana, who signed the resolution on behalf of Cimatu, expressed hope the conference would result in stronger regional collaboration on the promotion of bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“We hope that the resolution presented and signed during the 1st ASEAN Bamboo Congress marks strengthened partnerships and research breakthroughs among bright minds as One ASEAN for better climate change adaptation strategies and actions toward environmental sustainability and economic resiliency,” Quintana said. ###