The Philippines prioritizes a balance between the implementation of sustainable climate actions and the pursuit of the country’s economic growth and development potential. This becomes more evident in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to focus on post-pandemic economic recovery. We recognize that the threats of the changing climate, degrading environmental landscapes, and erratic consumption patterns are aggravating the longstanding developmental challenges of the country.
Because of its geographical location, the Philippines is experiencing increasing severity and frequency of typhoons and flooding each year on top of droughts, coastal erosion, sea-level rise, and earthquakes. We are among the most disaster-prone economies. Earthquakes and typhoons, on average, cause about USD3.5 billion per year in direct losses to public and private assets. Since 1990, we have had 565 disaster events causing an estimated USD23.00 billion in damages. Our agriculture sector alone incurs the most losses and damage and in turn, our communities of farmers and fisher folks carry the bulk of the consequences of the increasing extreme weather events. From 2010-2019, the total value of production loss in agriculture per hazard type amounted to PHP 290.91 Billion, wherein 99.9% of loss and damage is attributed to climate hazards. While these figures and data are already alarming, risk assessment tools further show us that much worse storms are possible.
Under the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Philippines commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030. This ambitious target was set to challenge both ourselves and the rest of the world. At the very core of achieving this goal is the need for new instruments and policies that would enhance and develop technologies and alternatives to the usual way we farm, fish, consume, and dispose of waste.
We are leading the transition towards greener practice by exploring how sustainable finance can be utilized to improve the generating capacity of the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plant in Mindanao while we acquire all coal-fired power plants in the region to repurpose them as we increase the capacity of renewable energy. This aims to shift most of Mindanao’s energy requirements to hydropower, which will eventually spur more investments from companies seeking to expand their operations in areas powered by clean energy.
We are also working on mobilizing investments in sustainable urban planning and climate-smart agriculture and deepening our capital markets to support sustainable financing and the mainstreaming of climate change across government policies.
We are striving to make citizens aware that all of us play an important role in this fight against climate change. We are supporting the urgent passage of a measure regulating Single-Use Plastics, as we recognize the necessity of eliminating plastic pollution for a more sustainable environment noting that our country has ranked as the world’s third-biggest plastics polluter in the oceans. By curbing the use of single-use plastics, every Filipino will do his or her part in helping save the country and the world’s environment.
Apart from pushing for a law to ban or regulate single-use plastics, we are seeking to institutionalize the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and in effect amending our Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Under the EPR, the obliged companies shall be responsible for making financial contributions to support the collection, recovery, transportation, processing, recycling and disposal of their plastic packaging wastes.
For these reasons, we will work intensively with the various sectors of our government and society to achieve our commitments to the Paris Agreement.
As a developing middle income and climate-vulnerable country, we made it possible to mobilize concrete actions as a contribution to saving the planet from this crisis. We no longer wish to linger on hypothetical situations and ensure we have tangible responses on the ground. While we aim to mobilize all possible sources of financing towards actual climate change mitigation and adaptation projects and programmes, we continue to engage in measures to ensure a sustainable and resilient future through the innovations and opportunities brought about by digitization and the need to bolster the health sector.
The role of digital transition in the Philippines has gained significant traction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital finance in the Philippines has experienced exponential growth since the COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed. It has enabled individuals, organizations, and the government to ensure business continuity while complying with the health and safety protocols imposed by the Government. With such traction, the Philippines aims to build and sustain the momentum that has been established in using digital finance as a tool not only to get through the pandemic, but to recover from it. The Philippines is cognizant of the potential of the sector when properly utilized, and plans on leveraging on digital finance in order to increase financial literacy, financial inclusion, and provide investment opportunities to the unbanked and unreached.
Our finance and monetary policies therefore, play a crucial role to sustain activities that cater to climate change mitigation and adaptation, including disaster risk management, as well as to fund the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).