Public and private institutions in the Philippines need to make sustainability part of their strategy and operations as the planet deals with environmental risks, and partnership with the European Union would enhance our efforts to go “green.”
This was the meat of the discussion during the Pilipinas Conference 2021 entitled Strengthening Cooperation for a Green & Sustainable Recovery: A Part of EU-PH Trade & Sustainability Discussions held recently.
The online forum was organized by Stratbase ADR Institute in partnership with the EU Delegation.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno, speaking on behalf of the Philippine banking system, said they are keen to see sustainability principles integrated in the operations of our supervised entities and the entire financial system.
He underscored the need for banks to understand the impact of environmental and social risks on their business viability before they can fully heed the call for action.
Diokno said the BSP is committing to go green “by guiding the financial system and promote a conducive backdrop for sustainable finance to flourish; raising awareness and building capacity; enabling a regulatory environment through policy issuances; engaging all stakeholders as we recognize that the environmental and social risks are not just business risks, but risks that affect everyone and the future generations to come; and lastly, navigating the path towards a post-COVID-19 economy and Philippine financial system that is more stable, resilient, and inclusive.”
Maurizio Cellini, First Counsellor, Head of Trade & Economic Affairs, EU Delegation to the Philippines, said it is essential to bring together science, industry, and public donations to speed up the work and leverage all available resources to enable the EU to respond to these threats in anticipation of new variants, and other threats to public health.
“The EU will also invest environmentally friendly technology, roll out greener vehicles and public transport, and make our buildings and public spaces more energy efficient. In our cooperation with other partners, we will focus on green and sustainable economic recovery,” he said.
With regard to the Philippines, two priority areas of cooperation have been agreed in close dialogue with the government.
“One is about a peaceful and just society and good governance, but the other one is about a green resilient economy and green jobs. This area, in particular, has three mutually reinforcing objectives relating to a circular economy and plastic waste management, digital connectivity, and green digital transformation and climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
Cellini reiterated that it is fundamental that the Philippines complete the tax reform package and passes swiftly the bills for the liberalization of foreign investments: the amendment to the Public Services Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems & Climate Change, Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) Analiza Teh talked about the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The effect would lead to a collapse in ecosystem services that could result in a significant decline in global GDP: 2.7 trillion dollars by 2030.
“For the Philippines, we expect to incur about 177 billion pesos per year in loss to public and private assets due to typhoons and earthquakes. In the next 50 years, we have a 40% chance of experiencing a loss exceeding 989 billion pesos and a 20% chance of a loss exceeding 1.5 billion pesos. The estimated cost to implement our climate change mitigation programs is at 4.1 billion USD from 2015 to 2030.” she said.
“We are pursuing the Philippine action plan for sustainable consumption and production. One of its major components is the promotion of circular economy where we aim to eliminate unnecessary plastic products, innovate for circularity by designing for re-use, recycling, repair and remanufacture. We also have to pursue sustainable financing.”
Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman, Vice-Chairperson & Executive Director, Climate Change Commission (CCC), said the Philippines is challenged to pursue a coordinated and effective transition to a green and climate smart economy. “This is a transition that will drive decent and green jobs, livelihoods, and social justice, all crucial in the pursuit of sustainable growth.” He proposed a five-point plan toward this aim.
“Partnerships and cooperation are key to resilience building,” he said.
In his opening remarks for the session, Professor Dindo Manhit, President of Stratbase ADR Institute said that stakeholders across sectors need to become more aware of the long-term risks of failing to understand and incorporate sustainability as well as green and circular measures in their policies, frameworks, and operations.
“The EU has demonstrated its capability to become a global leader in mainstreaming and incorporating sustainable developmental agenda into its policies and frameworks, particularly on climate change. Together with the ASEAN, they are committed to forging stronger partnerships in pushing for circular economies, clean oceans, sustainable food systems, and sustainable finance. For us in the Philippines, we need multi-sectoral initiatives that should ensure its contribution in hastening recovery with a long-term environment agenda, spurring innovation needed in the new normal, and in reducing future climate risks,” he said.
“Climate change cannot be addressed on a stand-alone basis.”