DTI-CITEM pushes for sustainable shift among PH MSMEs thru Sustainability Solutions Exchange (SSX)

To address the rising global demand for sustainable goods and services, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), launched the Sustainability Solutions Exchange (SSX) on March 23 to 25. SSX will promote the shift towards sustainable consumption and production among local brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to make Philippine industries more sustainable and environment-friendly, and contribute to the country’s commitment on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

"Our goal is to shift Philippine businesses to practice sustainability in their supply chain and mitigate their impact to the environment. We are confident in this transition considering the growing demand of conscious local and international consumers which presents great opportunities for sustainable Philippine businesses to thrive in," said Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan.

"Through this event, we aspire to champion brands that are socially conscious, encourage MSMEs to adopt more holistic and eco-friendlier approaches in doing business, and contribute towards the sustainable shift across industries as we promote the best of Philippine products and services globally," Suaco-Juan added.

The 2021 Global Sustainability Study by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners reported that more than one-third (34 percent) of the population is willing to pay more for sustainable products or services, and those willing to pay more would accept an average premium of 25 percent. Younger generations lead the way as higher shares of Generation Z (39 percent) and Millennials (42 percent) are willing to pay for sustainability.

This shift towards sustainability is also observed in the Philippines, wherein nine out of 10 consumers are willing to pay more for products that are created by companies and brands with environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, based on a survey by Bain & Company. In particular, eight out of 10 of them are actually willing to pay up to 10 percent more premium and some would attribute this actually to the heightened sense of social responsibility or just the general bayanihan sense that has been reinvigorated during this pandemic.

According to a 2019 study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Filipinos consume a yearly average of 20kg of plastics, from which 15.43kg/cap/year becomes waste. Some of the major challenges include inadequacy of waste facilities due to constraints in funding and manpower, and the poorly implemented regulations for the recyclables market. Based on the 2020 PH Brand Audit Report, consumer good companies also still rely on the delivery of products in throwaway sachet packaging. To address this issue, international environmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) citing Ocean Conservancy 2020 said that addressing plastic pollution requires both upstream (production/pre-consumption) and downstream measures (consumption and post consumption).

Along the three-day event, CITEM will also launch the Sustainability.ph, the first Philippine government-led website of its kind, which will provide access to a directory of sustainability suppliers and other relevant data on the sustainability industry. The website will serve as an online community platform that promotes products, services, exchange of ideas and conversations on sustainable consumption and production. It will feature a diverse range of stories about sustainable technologies, interventions and practices that seeks to engage businesses and consumers to start their journey towards sustainability.

Held on Hopin, a digital events platform, the three-day trade show will showcase solution providers and local MSMEs in the expo; and key stakeholders and experts during the conference. The inaugural edition of the event provided access to information, people, and organizations that will guide businesses in the food and lifestyle sectors. It will converge advocates, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders in one interactive platform, redefining trade events in the digital space.

Under Hopin, participants were able to access the show  components through the website’s event tabs. It has a digital lobby called Reception with the program schedule and lineup of speakers, a Sessions tab that has the Business Concierge for buyers to schedule meetings with suppliers, an Expo where participants can discover solution providers and MSMEs from the food and lifestyle sectors, the Stage where the main conference, keynote presentations, and panel discussions are held, a Networking tab with an online meet-and-greet feature for participants to chat with other advocates, and a Replay area to rewatch the sessions and discussions on demand until April 25.

Big names, international orgs advocating sustainability converge on SSX 

Hosted by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA) Antoinette Taus, the event will be opened with a discussion on the global community’s progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a talk on "Keeping Up with the Global Sustainability Agenda" by Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident Representative (UNDP) in the Philippines. This will be followed by a presentation of the Philippines’ initiatives and current standing in sustainability in the “State of Sustainability in the Philippines” by Deputy Speaker and Antique District Representative Loren Legarda. 

The conference underscored talks and panel discussions on sustainability, specifically within the food and lifestyle sectors. On the first day, bearing the theme Solutions Today: Goals & Strategies, experts talked about sustainability in the Philippines, responsible consumption and production, and how Philippine businesses can contribute to the sustainability agenda featuring a series of panel discussions, namely "How the Philippines is Addressing Sustainability and What it Means for Businesses," "Road to Circular Food: Opportunities & Challenges," "Rethink Design for Responsible Consumption and Production," "The Role of Business in Shifting to a Circular Economy," and "Green and Circular Economy for the Future of Manufacturing and International Trade in the Food and Lifestyle Industry Sectors."

Notable speakers present on the first day includes Policy Research and Development Division (PRDD) of Climate Change Commission Chief Jerome Ilagan, National Economic Development Authority-Agriculture of Natural Resources and Environment Staff (NEDA-ANRES) Director Nieva T. Natural, Asian Development Bank—Philippine Country Office (ADB PhCO) Country Manager Kelly Bird, Founding Farmer, President and CEO of AGREA Philippines Cherrie Atilano, Sustainable Consumption and Production of World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-PH) Project Manager Melody Melo-Rijk, Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation Inc. (PRRCFI) Executive Director Dave Albao, and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Country Office Philippines' Country Director Teddy Monroy.

On the second day, the conference focused on the food sector, highlighting Food Systems for Tomorrow–experts will cover trends in the food sector as well as sustainable food production practices with the panel discussions on "Sustainability Trends for the Future of Food," "Food Origins and Ecological Balance, Behind the Food We Eat," and "Learn from Milan, Champion of Circular Food System." Notable discussant includes Asian Productivity Organization Secretary General Dr. AKP Mochtan, University of the Philippines Los Banos—Institute of Food Science and Technology Director Dr. Lotis E. Mopera, Director for Social Impact and Special Projects under Thinking Machine Pia Faustino, Greenminds Inc. Founder Reynaldo “DatuMakadingding” Gil G. Lomarda, Fresh Start Organic Founder Ramon Uy, Jr., Asia-Pacific General Manager of TerraCycle & Loop Eric Kawabata, CEO, OCCP (Organic Certification Center of the Philippines) Inspection and Certification Services, Inc. Leilani Ramona Katimbang-Limpin, and Head of Secretariat, Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Filippo Gavazzeni.

SSX concentrated on the lifestyle industry on its last day, focusing on New Living & Consumption. Keynote and panel discussions on ethical businesses, responsible innovation, and products for the conscious consumers will be discussed. To be tackled in the third day are the following topics on "New Age of Goods and Products for Conscious Consumers," "Doing Business in an Ethical World," "Circular Material and Responsible Innovation," and "Zero Emissions, Zero Waste, and Zero Barriers." Sharing their insights on the panel discussions are Market Development Manager Ikano Philippines Inc. & Store Manager of IKEA Pasay City of IKEA Southeast Asia Georg Platzer, Philippine Textile Research Institute Director Director, Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) Executive Director Rhea Matute, CEO of Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC) Arch. Christopher dela Cruz, President and COO of Nature's Legacy Pete Delantar, CEO and Co-Founder of Bureo Inc. Ben Kneppers, Sustainability of GoTo Group' Group Head Tanah Sullivan, and Eskwelabs Co-Founder Angela Chen, among others.


For the directory of sustainable solutions in the SSX portal, www.Sustainability.ph, CITEM engaged a technical working group (TWG) composed of Department of Science and Technology—Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) Director Annabelle Briones, OIC-Chief of the Department of Environment and National Resources—Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Karen Pacpaco, Program Management of the Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI) Engr. Grace Lebria, Executive Director of Organic Producers Trade Association Patrick Belisario, ALTUM CIRCULAR OPC's Co-Founder and President Carlo Delantar, and SSX Program Director; and Brand Ambassador and Member of Advisory Board Avant Wood Matthias Gelber. This panel will review the directory applicants to allow MSMEs the opportunity to access accredited suppliers that share their same values.

CITEM organized the digital event of SSX in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-PH), Israel Economic & Commercial Mission to the Philippines, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (GPCCI), Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (Nordcham), European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCPI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources—Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), Department of Science and Technology—Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI​), Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI​), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Organic Producers and Trade Association of the Philippines (OPTA).

Under the Expo section, partnered with CITEM for the event are following DTI Regional Offices: National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 4-A, 5, 7 and 8. Meanwhile, under the Sessions tab, CITEM partnered with PLDT, CORA, Israel Economic and Commercial Mission to the Philippines, Eco Business and the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Also supporting the event are DTI’s Regional Operations Group (ROG), Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines-Socially Relevant Technologies Project (IPOPHL-SRT), and Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC).