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Ecotourism transforms attitudes to marine conservation

In all locations people said their perception of whale sharks – and of the wider marine environment – had changed positively since the introduction of eco-tourism.

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Photo by @seefromthesky from Unsplash.com

A study has shown how ecotourism in the Philippines has transformed people’s attitudes towards marine conservation.

Researchers from the University of Victoria in Canada and Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE), visited three sites where tourists pay to swim with whale sharks in the wild. They interviewed a range of locals who work for the tour operators in Oslob, Donsol and Pintuyan, including fishers and ex-whale shark hunters.

In all three locations people said their perception of whale sharks – and of the wider marine environment – had changed positively since the introduction of eco-tourism.

At Oslob, the largest of the three sites, people were more likely to speak about the resulting improvements to their quality of life and an increase in job opportunities. At the smaller, less profitable sites, responses were more likely to be about the changes in how people thought about and behaved towards the sharks.

But at all three locations, the team heard from locals that the arrival of ecotourism had led to positive changes for marine conservation.

Dr Jackie Ziegler, who led the team from the university’s Marine Protected Areas Research Group, said: “Many of the people we spoke to reported they now care about and value whale sharks because of tourism activities. They also expressed the community’s emotional connection to the species and the strong need to protect them.

“Prior to the introduction of tourist activities, most of the locals admitted to harming the sharks by hitting them with stones, harpoons, paddles, dynamite or riding them.”

In terms of attitudes towards the wider marine environment, the majority of respondents now actively encourage others to care for the ocean and they also use more sustainable fishing practices.

The study, published in Oryx-The International Journal of Conservation, also acknowledged the potential negative effects of tourism on the marine environment, such as impacts on the health of local coral reefs and of the sharks. It concluded that further studies were needed to assess these impacts before firm conclusions could be drawn regarding the positive impact of whale shark tourism on ocean conservation.

Nevertheless, the researchers say their work suggests ecotourism can be an effective means of enhancing protection by changing local attitudes and behaviours towards target species and their respective ecosystems.

Dr Ziegler added: “It was fascinating to hear the importance so many local Filipino communities place on whale shark tourism. Bringing in the views of the local tour operators to the study was imperative in uncovering the true impact of whale shark tourism and the wider benefits to ocean conservation in the Philippines.”

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DKSH, LEO Pharma partner to deliver products, solutions to people with skin conditions, thrombosis

DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

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DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

Partnering in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the two companies seek to solidify brand presence, grow market share, and ultimately improve patient health outcomes in the region. Skin diseases can cause serious physical and social discomfort for millions of patients around the world whereas thrombosis can affect anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, and ethnicity.

DKSH will support LEO Pharma by building dedicated sales and marketing teams on the ground in Asia and managing logistics and product distribution in these markets. The firm’s experienced teams and broad distribution network will ensure LEO Pharma products reach modern trade, traditional trade, hospitals, clinics, and other medical channels, as well as patients in need across the region.

LEO Pharma is a global company dedicated to advancing the standard of care for the benefit of people with skin conditions, their families and society. With decades of research and development to advance the science of dermatology, LEO Pharma now offers a wide range of innovative treatments and therapies for all skin disease severities as well as thrombosis.

Khalid Aouidat, Vice President, responsible for commercial activities in Southeast Asia at LEO Pharma commented: “At LEO Pharma, we are dedicated to changing the standards of care for people with skin diseases by bringing new innovative treatments forward and making them easily accessible. Supporting this ambition, we are delighted to be partnering with DKSH. Their experience and strong regional footprint in Asia, as well as their marketing and sales expertise will help to further strengthen LEO Pharma’s brand and its continued growth.”

Bijay Singh, Head of Business Unit Healthcare at DKSH, said: “We are committed to enriching people’s lives and improving healthcare for all. The partnership with LEO Pharma strengthens our ambition to become the preferred partner for clients to help patients in Asia to have better access to high-quality and innovative products and solutions. While we drive their growth across the region, LEO Pharma can focus on researching and developing products and solutions for people with skin conditions.”

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Epson partners with WWF, launches mangrove restoration project in Palawan

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan.

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Epson Philippines’ partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines for marine ecosystem restoration has officially kickstarted with a ceremonial launch in Balabac, Palawan. Supported by project stakeholders such as the European Union delegation to the Philippines and local government officials, the project launch highlights the importance of rehabilitating mangrove sites, recognizing their critical role in marine biodiversity and protecting coasts from erosion and storm surges.

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan. As part of the wider European Union-funded Ocean Governance Project—an initiative focused on strengthening habitat resilience through restoration in the Sulu Sulawesi Seascape that covers the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia—the joint mission in Palawan aims to boost local capacity in taking care of the mangroves, as well as address other critical issues such as plastic waste management. With Epson as a key partner, the Mangrove Restoration Project was able to expand beyond Balabac and into the neighboring municipality of Bataraza. In addition, the growing relationship between Epson Philippines and WWF-Philippines only further drives Epson Philippines’ commitment to support sustainable innovations and initiatives to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

“Corporations have a shared responsibility in sustainable development,” said Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines’ General Manager for Marketing Division, who shared his remarks virtually during the project launch. “As Epson continues its commitment to sustainable innovation and environmental responsibility, we believe in forming critical partnerships with organizations that are aligned with our values—such as WWF-Philippines.”

To further the goals of the Mangrove Restoration Project, WWF-Philippines will continue to work with local government and key stakeholders such as Epson Philippines to establish a ‘Community Learning and Innovation Hub’ that aims to bridge knowledge gaps and strengthen coastal communities’ experience in resource management, thereby helping to build local capacity.

“It is important that we continue to protect and manage Balabac’s valued mangrove forests to boost our efforts in keeping a healthy environment and supporting local livelihoods,” said Balabac Mayor Shuiab J. Astami, who officially launched the project in Balabac Island.

“We are excited to be part of this multi-stakeholder effort that will restore critical mangroves in Balabac, Palawan and improve the way their coastal resources are managed for the long haul. We strongly hope that this project will succeed and serve as an example for many other communities,” said Executive Director of WWF-Philippines, Katherine Custodio.

Moving forward, Epson aims to continue setting a more sustainable example for corporations across the region.

“Working alongside governments, local champions and conservation organizations, we are proud to be part of this public-private partnership that is aligned with our renewed Epson 25 Corporate Vision—which aims to enrich communities and help realize a sustainable society,” concludes Bonoan. ”We hope that this opens up a path for more sustainable partnerships in the future.”

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SM Green Finds is going beyond shopping

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

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When it comes to challenges as big as climate change, businesses and communities have to work together and consumers need to have concrete, practical options that can allow them to go green in their everyday life.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

SM, the country’s largest retailer, is taking the lead in offering accessible eco-friendly options to their consumers through the recently launched Green Finds. Consumers simply need to spot items and products with a Green Finds badge.

The SM Green Finds initiative helps customers develop a sustainable lifestyle through affordable and easy-to-find eco-friendly products showcased in convenient pop-up stores.

These kiosks feature several green shopping options from 22 participating brands which includes SM Home, SM Fashion, Watsons, The Body Shop, Kultura, Baby Company, Ace Hardware, Supplies Station, Sports Central, Toy Kingdom, and Signature Lines.

Supporting local businesses

Many products featured in the Green Finds pop-up stores are made by local businesses. This is part of SM’s long-standing commitment to support Filipino small and medium enterprises—driven by its origins as a small shoe store in downtime Manila in 1958.

Today, SM works with almost 25,000 small and medium enterprises representing 27% of the total SMEs in the country. Aside from helping them reach consumers through several retail channels, it also gives free training on sustainability and social and environmental topics through the Green Movement Sustainability School.

Empowering consumers

SM is also offering multiple channels where consumers can pick out green items: from brick-and-mortar stores to online spaces.

“As the country’s largest shopping platform—with malls nationwide, the ShopSM website and app, and services like Personal Shopper and Click and Collect—we are in a unique position to make it easier for people to spot green finds,” says Cathy Ileto, VP for Corporate Communications, SM Retail.

“Our platforms empower consumers by giving them more choices, which drives the movement towards a green lifestyle.”

Community Engagement through the SM Green Movement

The SM Green Finds is part of a comprehensive program called the SM Green Movement, which brings together the customers, suppliers and partners, and communities in a joint effort to help protect the planet.

“The goal of the SM Green Movement is to get everyone involved in the effort to stop global warming and protect the planet,” Tan further stated.

For several years, SM has engaged the local communities in environmental programs. This includes recycling programs like Trash to Cash Market, SM Electronic Waste Collection, and coastal cleanups.

SM has also encouraged customers to use more eco-friendly transportation, through bike lanes and electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations in several of its malls.

Join the Green Movement

The SM Green Movement is a collective effort of SM, its customers, communities, and partners to promote green living, green culture, and a green planet. For more information, visit this website.

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