Due to its geographical location in the Pacific Ring of Fire and Typhoon Belt, the Philippines has been regarded as one of the countries that are most vulnerable to natural disasters, which have significantly worsened in recent years due to climate change. In fact, according to the 2020 World Risk Index, out of the 180 countries assessed, the Philippines ranked as the 9th riskiest country in terms of disasters. The same report also noted that island states such as the Philippines are at high risk of sea-level rise, cyclones and earthquakes. In a recent report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), natural catastrophes were found to be the greatest risk for doing business in the country. Based on data from the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), the Philippines encounters an annual average of 20 typhoons. These natural disasters result in economic losses equal to 0.7% to 1.0% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). However, the Philippines’ disaster resilience policies remain reactionary rather than anticipatory in its attempt to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
Climate change is a global phenomenon that cannot be ignored. But then again, activities in urban and emerging urban areas, particularly transport and buildings, are mainly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. While urbanization can contribute to the growth of an economy, it may also be a cause of its downfall if unsustainably planned and managed. On top of the climate change issue, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines hard as the economy contracted by a record-low of 16.5% in the second quarter of 2020. For a country that is already highly vulnerable to natural disasters and has a large proportion of the population living in poverty, economic recovery will require quick on-the-ground preparations, mitigations and adaptations.
The pandemic was a disruption that exposed the deep flaws of the prevailing linear economic model, which significantly contributes to the generation of carbon and other greenhouse gases that warms our atmosphere and aggravates climate-related phenomena. Thus, to better prepare ourselves in mitigating or even adapting to the climate, there is a need to shift from the old linear model to a circular one, where scarce resources can be better managed and utilized.
As the local economy struggles to recover, there is much room for opportunities that can address both the ongoing economic crisis and climate change. This economic crisis should not push sustainability to the backburner, even temporarily. Climate change is a long-term threat that has and will continue to endanger the planet’s survival. Due to this problem’s multi-sectoral nature, all stakeholders must take part in the solution. Only with a whole-of-society approach in global, regional, national and local levels can this desired outcome be achieved, and swiftly integrate genuine sustainability into all aspects of peoples’ lives. At this point in time, it is imperative to have urban planning with “green” designs that are based on sustainability principles. These investments not only generate more jobs, spur the economy, and minimize costs, but also conserve the environment in the long run.
For these reasons, Stratbase ADRi is organizing this session in this year’s Pilipinas Conference to serve as a platform for industry leaders and other stakeholders to share their thoughts and initiatives in building communities based on a circular economy that can not only enable the country to be more resilient to disasters, but can also pave the way for a green economic recovery post-pandemic.
Prof. Dindo Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute
Part 1: The Need for Science-Based Decision Making
Policymakers should ensure that every decision made is based on science and the most updated information and data. Science not only provides us with the necessary data we need to better understand our environment, but also the possible solutions to these challenges.
Role of the Public Sector in Promoting Green Investments
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr.
Chairperson, House Committee on Natural Resources
Nature-Based Solutions for a Green Economic Recovery
Usec. Analiza Teh
Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change, Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Disaster Preparation and Mitigation
Dr. Mahar Lagmay
Executive Director, Project NOAH
Integrating a science-based approach in understanding and mitigating the ecological impacts of plastic pollution in Philippine waters
Dr. Deo Florence Onda
Associate Professor and Deputy Director for Research,
University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute
Part 2: A Whole-of-Society Approach for Climate and Disaster Resilience
A green and sustainable economic recovery cannot be single-handedly carried out by a single player. As such, to have a greater impact, a whole-of-society approach must be undertaken. At this point in time, it is imperative to have urban planning with “green” designs that are based on sustainability.
Creating a Resilient Habitat for Filipinos
Mr. Rene “Butch” Meily
President, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation
Creating Green and Sustainable Developments: At Present and in a Post-COVID-19 Economy
Mr. Joselito “Joel” Luna
Founder & Principal, JLPD;
Former Chief Architect, Ayala Land, Inc.
Mr. Guillermo “Bill” Luz
Chief Resilience Officer, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation;
Associate Director, Ayala Corporation
Working Towards Circularity & Climate Action
Ms. Jonah de Lumen-Pernia
Public Affairs and Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola Philippines
Mr. Raymond Rufino
Treasurer and Former Chairperson, Philippine Green Building Council
Towards Sustainable Mining
Mr. Rocky Dimaculangan
Vice President for Communications & National Coordinator for Towards Sustainable Mining, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines
Hon. Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso
Mayor, City of Manila
Moderator and Closing Remarks
Dr. Carlos Primo “CP” David
Trustee and Program Convenor, Stratbase ADR Institute;
Convenor, Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship
Mr. Ludwig O. Federigan
Executive Director, Young Environmental Forum
Non-Resident Fellow, Stratbase ADR Institute