Innovation: Key to sustainable development amid climate change

E CARTOON FEB 27, 2024 (1).jpgCommunity participation is key to the attainment of sustainable development — a goal that seems attainable, yet remains an elusive proposition in the fact of continuing challenges. Sustainable development refers simply to how we can satisfy the current demands and preserve the capacity of future generations to do the same.

For example, the country’s continuing efforts to attain rice and food sufficiency is threatened by the El Niño phenomenon. According to the Feb. 17, 2024, report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC): “By the end of February, 24 provinces in Luzon and one province in Visayas are potential for meteorological drought conditions; 17 provinces for dry spell, while 10 provinces will be potential for dry conditions.”
Faced with such prognosis, what can families, households and affected communities do to stave off the adverse consequences of El Niño and climate change?

Households must use energy-efficient appliances and practice energy conservation, while observing responsible consumption habits including buying local products, reducing food waste, and opting for sustainable alternatives. Promoting community gardens, reducing reliance on imported goods could boost local agriculture significantly. Waste management projects may also be pursued actively, including recycling, composting, and reducing single-use plastics.

By combining and consolidating individual, family, and household initiatives, community and corporate organizations can magnify the beneficial impact.
Technology intermediation also offers multiple regenerative solutions.

Let’s beam the spotlight on one of Manila Bulletin’s Newsmaker of the Year awardees. SariSuki, established by Brian Cu, Philippe Lorenzo, Bam Mejia, and Angelo Loo in 2021, is a virtual grocery store that purchases directly from farmers, enabling sustainable opportunities for community sellers. It partnered with AIR21 in 2023 to bring fresh produce from farmers in the province to community sellers in the metropolitan areas. Notice how this social enterprise connected rural-based farmers to sellers and consumers to thousands of households way beyond their physical reach  — simply by tapping into the power of digital tools and networks.

Another Manila Bulletin Newsmaker of the Year awardee is the local government of Tagbilaran City headed by Mayor Jane Yap. Together with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the city launched the Paleng-QR Ph program in January 2023. The program aims to build a nationwide digital payments ecosystem by promoting cashless QR payments in public markets and local transportation. The program’s rollout was widely accepted by merchants and transport groups in the city's Dao Public Market. Bohol-based producers, traders and merchants are linked directly with customers from all over the archipelago — through a digital ecosystem that is trustworthy, reliable, efficient and energy-saving.

Truly, challenging times bring about the emergence of creative ideas, products and services that in turn, enlighten and encourage people to tap into the vast reservoir of talent and innovation — just waiting to be tapped and harnessed for the greater well-being of the community and the country.