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Paths to green economic recovery

Paths to green economic recovery"Let us not repeat the mistakes that have led us to this planetary mess."

 

We are facing the most difficult challenge to humanity that many sage observers say has never been seen in modern history. As of this writing, World Health Organization COVID-19 data reports confirmed cases about to breach 9.6 million and deaths approaching 500 thousand worldwide.

This is a global crisis that is now teaching its inhabitants that tipping the fragile balance of human and environmental health will have catastrophic consequences. The symbiosis of our health, the environment, and economic security is no longer a quixotic cause of tree-hugging fanatics but a reality essential to our existence.

As the country starts to make tentative steps to restart economic activities, alarming spikes in new cases further feed the anxiety of the people who must now venture out of their quarantine domiciles and adjust to the myriad of safety protocols to shield themselves from the deadly Wuhan virus.

We must move forward and get the economy going. But we must first accept that this global crisis is the consequence of our civilization’s committed or omitted mistakes, always biased to feed our insatiable need to have more of everything in the name of development.
In the latest online forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute and Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST), over 200 stakeholders from government, civil society, academe and the private sector were in consensus in seriously pursuing paths towards a “Green Economic Recovery” in the context of environmental stewardship.

The institute’s President, Prof. Dindo Manhit in his opening remarks said, “We must push for a more circular economy, one wherein we all efficiently manage our solid wastes as well as our mineral and forest resources. After all, we will have to revisit policies on underutilized industries such as the mining industry in order to stop the country’s economic hemorrhaging. However, we must only proceed if we uphold the responsible and sustainable practices under an environmental stewardship-centered economic agenda.”

Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives underscored the need for the government to act and look for solutions to the internet connection in the country, as it is has become indispensable technology and a key component in our post pandemic economy. He further highlighted the need to expand and upgrade the country’s digital infrastructure as it will be necessary for government, as well as corporate transactions.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs, Juan Miguel Cuna will push the National Greening Program, where 16,000 families will benefit from the seedling production, plantation maintenance and protection. The department is also fast tracking the assessment of large-scale mining operations, to determine if they are compliant to resume operations to provide employment and revenue to the national government and host communities. Minahang Bayan for small scale miners will be allowed to operate legally in different provinces under strict monitoring to ensure their extractive activities comply with environmental regulations. Multi-stakeholder approaches to revive tourism, build treatment storage and disposal facilities, strengthen water security and the implementation of wildlife handling protocols are among the DENR’s flagship programs to support the government’s financial and social reconstruction in the wake of the pandemic.

DENR Undersecretary for Climate Change Analiza Teh recommended policies that would contribute to achieving economic and climate goals, clean physical infrastructure investment, building efficiency with long overdue renovations and retrofits, investment in education and training, natural capital investment for ecosystem resilience and regeneration, and clean Research and Development investments.
Usec. Teh pointed out that dealing with the long-term climate emergency will not come from shutting down the economy, rather, it will come from structuring systems enabling people to live in a low carbon way, such as investing in sustainable infrastructure to ensure long term impacts and sustainability. She further underscored the need for private sector’s support, more policy reforms, and called for a shift in cultural behavior in how people treat the environment.

Mr. Ludwig Federigan, Executive Director of the Young Environmental Forum and Stratbase ADRi Non-Resident Fellow called for an aggressive push for a ‘green’ recovery plan that sets the economy on a pathway towards a low-carbon development that focuses on: (1) healthcare investments in national laboratory system, real-time surveillance, workforce development, preparedness, emergency response operations, risk communication, and national legislation, policy and financing; (2) strengthening our disaster preparedness; (3) allotting more funding for clean research and development spending; and (4) clean/renewable energy infrastructure investments.

I highly recommend that you check out the entire recording posted at the PBEST Facebook page to appreciate the enlightening discussions of the other speakers, reactors, and participants.

Let us not repeat the mistakes that have led us to this planetary mess. It must not be business as usual.

Topics: World Health Organization , COVID-19 , Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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