Group urges stronger disaster-resilience policy under next admin

An advocacy group championing environmental stewardship is calling on the country’s next set of leaders to adopt new policies and push legislation that would build resilience to disasters, both natural and man-made.

Felix Vitangcol, co-convenor of Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST), said the incoming administration should focus on the upgrade and modernization of infrastructure and services in the context of sustainable development.

“They have their work cut out for them,” Vitangcol said. “They face the daunting job of dealing with the effects of climate change and pursuing measures to address it.”

Modern grids, for instance, should address not only the short-term needs of providing power to communities and industries, but also people’s need for a healthier and safer environment, he said.

Vitangcol, an engineer, also said “reforms in competition policy should help bring about energy transition faster.”

“For example, PBEST supports proposals to make fixed-price bids, carve-out clauses and uniform force-majeure provisions mandatory in power purchase contracts,” he added.

PBEST said it was also pushing for more efficient transport systems as they build efficiency, encourage prosperity and harness the resilience of urban communities.

Vitangcol said some private companies, driven by their commitment to a more resilient Philippines, have been integrating technology driven processes to make their operations more sustainable.

“We call on business groups to engage in pro-active interventions such Globe’s ramped up of its sustainable modernization program by transitioning its facilities to renewable energy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The company is also scheduled to establish a green and low-carbon optical access network which is expected to cut power consumption and heat dissipation by 50 percent,” Vitangcol said.

Globe intends to allow its cell sites to be powered by renewable energy, to encourage investments – including in local electric cooperatives — in the Mindanao region.

These adjustments will give other major enterprises and MSMEs the option to shift to sustainable energy sources for their infrastructure and operations. According to data released in March by the Department of Trade and Industry, MSMEs make up 99.51 percent of businesses.

Vitangcol said; “Circular economy initiatives are already in the works for big enterprises like Mondelez Philippines, modernizing operations to address plastic waste and transition to renewable power sources, and Coca-Cola Beverage Philippines, Inc., sourcing more than half of energy consumption from solar energy.”

“Notable is the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) built in Clark, Pampanga the world’s first ever private sector-led national level emergency operations center that can track tropical weather patterns in the region, and storms, volcanic and earthquake eruptions around the world.”

Initiatives from other organizations included renewable energy, low-carbon investments, modern fuel cell and cooling systems, direct current hybrid generators and storage batteries, to name a few.

Many other companies have also invested in the training and upgrading of people’s skills – human capital – so they could better respond to the changing demands of the times and participate better in the future of work.

“The new administration should take advantage of this momentum and collaborate with the private sector in institutionalizing these initiatives across the archipelago, and across various industries,” Vitangcol said.

“Climate change and its consequences pose a big risk to our nation’s development and sustainability. It is time we addressed this risk head on, with the leadership of an able government and committed support from the private sector.”


Article by Manila Standard