The country’s environment sector is celebrating the Earth Day this year with a signing of a covenant supporting the ratification by the Philippines of the Paris Agreement, the landmark United Nations climate change accord negotiated by world leaders last December.

The covenant will be signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Climate Change Commission (CCC), other national government agencies, and other stakeholders in the environment sector on April 22.

Paje, who is heading to New York to represent President Aquino in the formal signing of the Paris Agreement and to deliver the Philippine statement at the U.N. Headquarters on April 22, said the covenant signifies the country’s commitment to curbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“As one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, the Philippines is firm on its stand on limiting its GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions,” the environment chief said.

He also added: “We are committed to enjoin the participation of more sectors in the decision-making process so that together we can all scale up our efforts in reducing emissions, building resilience, and decreasing vulnerability to climate change impacts.”

The Paris Agreement was negotiated and adopted by 196 countries during the 21st Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris last December.

Close to 200 countries are expected to attend the signing ceremony for the climate change accord in New York City.

The Paris Agreement calls for keeping the average global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all above pre-industrial levels.

It also calls for adaptation to climate change impacts, increasing resilience, and developing low GHG emissions while ensuring sustainable food production, as well as indicating plans to finance efforts of developing countries in implementing procedures to minimize climate change.

Aside from the covenant signing, the DENR and its partner agencies and organizations have lined up a number of activities focusing on the international Earth Day theme, “Trees for the Earth, Let’s get Planting” while adopting the local campaign slogan, “Step Up and Deliver, #GreenEnvironmentGawingForever.”

The “Isang Diwa sa Pagdiriwang ng Kalikasan” or the “Sandiwang” is scheduled in the afternoon of April 22 to feature an artistic and cultural interfaith celebration of Earth Day.

Various religious groups will gather for the event at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City to profess their respective prayers for the protection of Mother Earth. They will also hold religious rituals for the healing of the earth, and present cultural, musical and advocacy shows.

During the Sandiwang, eco-friendly products will be available for sale, while the “Hilot Pinoy” group will offer free massage services to the public.

On April 23, local bands will pay a concert tribute to Mother Earth for the 16th Earth Day Jam at the Plaza Rajah Sulayman along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Bike enthusiasts will advocate for cleaner air by promoting the use of bicycles as environment-friendly transport option during the Earth Day Bike Parade 2016 on April 24. The parade, which will start at 5:00 a.m. at the Makati City Hall grounds, will drum up awareness with a 34-kilometer ride through the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pasay, Quezon and Manila.

More than 100 youth and science teachers from secondary schools in Northern Luzon will participate in the Earth Day Youth Camp on April 26-28 in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, where campers will be trained how to organize and synergize climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Amateur and professional runners will have the chance to run and help “Protect, Respect, and Oversee” the planet when they join the PROEarth Run 2016 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on April 30. The fun run will have 3K, 5K and 10K segments whose proceeds will be used for the environmental projects of Earth Day Network Philippines, the event’s lead organizer. ###