24.11.2017

Local dining: a key ingredient towards Sustainable Tourism

Recognizing the sustainability efforts of and the partnership made with The Sustainable Diner’s three pilot cities: Quezon City, City of Cebu, and City of Tagaytay. L-R: Mr. Joel Palma (President and CEO, WWF-Philippines), Ms. Divina Pascua (Cultural and Tourism Affairs Officer-in-Charge, Quezon City Government), Ms. Leilani Diesta (Tourism and Information Officer, Tagaytay City Government), Ms. Nida Cabrera (Environment and Natural Resources Office Head, Cebu City Government), and Ms. Melody Melo-Rijk (Project Manager for Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Philippines, WWF-Philippines); Photo: ©WWF.

Recognizing the sustainability efforts of and the partnership made with The Sustainable Diner’s three pilot cities: Quezon City, City of Cebu, and City of Tagaytay. L-R: Mr. Joel Palma (President and CEO, WWF-Philippines), Ms. Divina Pascua (Cultural and Tourism Affairs Officer-in-Charge, Quezon City Government), Ms. Leilani Diesta (Tourism and Information Officer, Tagaytay City Government), Ms. Nida Cabrera (Environment and Natural Resources Office Head, Cebu City Government), and Ms. Melody Melo-Rijk (Project Manager for Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Philippines, WWF-Philippines); Photo: ©WWF.

Filipino cuisine and the local dining industry has become an essential selling point for the country’s growing tourism industry. “Food is a tourist attraction that is available here in the Philippines all-year-round”, says Ryan Sebastian, Tourism Operations Officer of the Department of Tourism.

While the food industry is a big selling point, it is also responsible for a large amount of food waste, with up to 308,000 tons of rice being wasted in the Philippines each year. This number is particularly concerning given that 2.7 million Filipino families have reported going hungry in the first quarter of the current year. “According to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report, we waste ⅓ of the food we produce annually. How much food is produced and how much of the carbon footprint that goes into producing that food is out to waste - it impacts climate change”, says Romell Antonio Cuenca, Assistant Secretary and Deputy Executive Director of the Climate Change Commission.

WWF-Philippines is working with the Filipino dining public, the government, the media, and the food service industry in leading the local dining scene towards sustainability. Since restaurant production and responsible consumer dining choices both have the power to positively impact the food service industry, The Sustainable Diner: A Key Ingredient for Sustainable Tourism brought together these major stakeholders and created a platform where each sector shared their perspectives on how to further green the industry.

The Sustainable Diner project, supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Environment Ministry (BMUB), made commitments of partnership with its three partner cities Quezon City, Tagaytay City, and Cebu City. The project seeks to foster awareness and highlight the importance of responsible consumption and production choices among the Filipino dining public and the food service sector. “With the support of the government and our media partners, we can all have productive and collaborative discussions on the changes we can implement in order to make the local dining scene more sustainable”,’ says Joel Palma, President and CEO of WWF-Philippines.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Administration, Agribusiness and Marketing, and Regional Engagement, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, delivered her speech as the first plenary speaker for the inception event; Photo: ©WWF.Partners from the government and the food service sector have also echoed the call to engage the dining public: “If consumers go to restaurants that practice sustainable dining, or only order food that comes from local producers, such as fisher folk who practice sustainable fishing, then of course the market will follow suit. The market will always follow what the consumers want”, says Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Undersecretary for Administration, Agribusiness and Marketing, and Regional Engagement of the Department of Agriculture.

By engaging and forging partnerships with organizations and individuals, WWF-Philippines believes that it is possible to reduce food wastage, continue economic growth, and protect the natural resources that provide for every plate.

Chi-Chi, WWF’s Panda mascot, joined the final group photo; Photo: ©WWF.