BONTOC, MT. PROVINCE – The first leg of Global Environmental Facility-funded planetGOLD Philippines Projects' Media Kapihan series, entitled "Kapihan Tungo sa Responsableng Minahan" (Coffee Talks Towards Responsible Mining), concluded successfully in Bontoc, Mt. Province on 19 July 2023. This series aims to reshape media perceptions of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), providing accurate and well-balanced information to journalists to construct a more nuanced and positive narrative in media coverage.
The series of Kapihan’s are developed and implemented by the Artisanal Gold Council, the Canadian-based charitable organization that is executing the planetGOLD Philipines project.
Building on the momentum generated in previous sessions in Quezon City, Metro Manila, and Daet, Camarines Norte, the Bontoc event continued to emphasize the potential of ASGM in advancing positive change within communities. The intimate gathering facilitated open discussions on the challenges and opportunities associated with responsible gold mining.
Key insights from the session included discussions on formalization and access to finance, highlighting the Project's initiatives to assist miners in obtaining legal rights to their mining areas and establishing transparent supply chains. The conversation also explored better technologies and techniques, focusing on health and safety hazards associated with ASGM activities and the planetGOLD Philippines Project’s initiatives to promote mercury-free practices.
The critical role of environmental protection in ASGM was reiterated, emphasizing the adoption of environmentally friendly techniques and technologies. This comprehensive discussion acknowledged the interconnectedness of environmental responsibility with Indigenous Peoples' rights, gender equality, and the overall well-being of the ASGM sector.
Discussions on Indigenous Peoples' rights and land use in Mt. Province on ASGM open the door to creating a more inclusive and respectful dialogue. This approach recognizes the diversity within the ASGM sector and seeks to build responsible practices that consider the cultural and environmental contexts of the communities involved.
The session showcased the power of positive storytelling in influencing public perception. Both planetGOLD Philippines Project staff and participating journalists recognized the potential of positive narratives to challenge stereotypes, evoke empathy, and humanize the ASGM sector. The media's interest in supporting environmental protection and social welfare initiatives was evident, signaling a potential shift in public discourse.
As the first leg of the Media Kapihan series concludes, 30 journalists from different media networks have actively engaged in these dialogues. The collaborative efforts between media, government, communities, and stakeholders aim to reshape public perception, advance greater support for responsible development, and create a more inclusive and balanced conversation on ASGM.
Following the engaging session, National Project Manager Abigail Ocate and National Communications Officer Dawn Po Quimque conducted a radio interview with Radyo Pilipinas Bontoc, further emphasizing the importance of responsible ASGM practices. The discussion focused on the ongoing efforts by the planetGOLD Philippines Project to mitigate environmental impact, enhance miner safety, and promote formalization within the sector.
"Engaging the media is crucial in promoting understanding and sparking positive conversation about ASGM. We need the help of the media to amplify our message, debunk misconceptions, and connect the world of mining with the broader public. Their role is key in crafting a story that truly captures what we're doing and highlights the potential for positive change in the communities we work with,” Ocate added.
Meanwhile, ongoing preparations are underway for The Gold Talk, the first-ever radio program in the country, initiated by planetGOLD Philippines Project, focused solely on the ASGM sector in Mt. Province, a collaborative effort in partnership with Radyo Pilipinas Bontoc.
By actively involving the media in these sessions, the planetGOLD Philippines Project has not only encouraged positive media coverage but has also generated heightened exposure for its various initiatives by promoting a more holistic approach to addressing issues surrounding the sector. This approach ensures that the media becomes an integral part of the ongoing efforts to reshape public perceptions of ASGM.
As these engagements continue, the Project anticipates that media participation will contribute significantly to creating a more inclusive and informed discourse on ASGM. The planetGOLD Philippines Project looks forward to the continued impact of these dialogues as they pave the way for a more sustainable and inclusive development pathway for the ASGM sector in the Philippines.
The planetGOLD Philippines Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and executed by the Artisanal Gold Council.