By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, July 12 (PNA) — The local government in this prime Bicol urban locality is pushing an aggressive move towards green economy, an advocacy that promotes climate-smart and environment-friendly practices for sustainable development. In cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the move initially puts together the business sector — particularly medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) — and the local government into multi-sectoral approaches toward green economic development (GED).

The DTI, along with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), has been spearheading a campaign for GED by way of raising awareness among the business sector and local government units (LGUs) across the country on the aspects of economy that results in reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Supported by the Deutshce Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the national campaign, which is closely related with ecological economics but has a more politically applied focus, aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment, City Mayor Noel Rosal over the weekend said. He defined sustainable development as a process for meeting human development goals while sustaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend.
Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social, political, and economic challenges faced by humanity, he said. “We call upon all local sectors to support our move to develop strategies for sustainable development, incorporating policy measures that we are going to implement in line with continuing concerns over national economic and environmental developments,” Rosal said.

As of now, he said, the city government is in the process of consolidating ideas for the rational and effective use of the environmental hotspots — resource efficiency, solid waste management, natural resource management, green transportation, water management and energy efficiency through renewable sources — as means for catalyzing renewed policy development, cooperation and support of sustainable development. The city, he said, is starting with a set of programs that include cluster initiatives toward green campuses, workforce development and building local capacity to compete in the green economy. Cluster initiatives, which would facilitate the networking to connect core businesses with suppliers and new technologies, may be difficult to implement but they will have more impact if built on existing local and regional strengths and infrastructure.

Other than production, there should be a focus on local-serving jobs as an economic strategy for several reasons such as investing in local quality of life is key to attracting and retaining businesses and their workers, said Rosal, who has been enticing more big businesses to invest in the city that now boasts of the presence of retail industry giants like Gaisano, Robinsons, Ayala and SM. Other reasons, he said, are that local services play a critical support role in industry clusters; local services from education to health care and child care are public goods because of their critical role in local human development; and providing these services locally means that they are not imported and thus a drag on the local economy.

On the part of the GIZ, Rita Pilarca, its senior adviser on the operations in the Philippines, said it is every stakeholder’s responsibility to take into consideration in all its operation the possible effects and consequences to the environment. The GIZ is a German company that specializes in a variety of fields such as economic development and employment; government, democracy and poverty reduction; education, health and social security; environment and infrastructure; and agriculture, fisheries and food. Green economy, according to Pilarca, sets standards and regulations that stimulate production whose primary goal is to green the way goods and services are produced by spurring among others renewable energy use or greater energy efficiency.

For instance, she said, the city could adopt renewable energy portfolio targets, specifying on utilities that generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources like solar, water and wind. These could be adopted as an economic development program to support green innovation and develop a new market for green products and help build a critical mass of clean energy support services, which in turn would help build local clusters and reduce dependence on imports as well as help the city green its image and, thus, market itself more effectively, Pilarca added.

The city could as well adopt green building regulations and in order to use such regulations to grow local business, there is a need to pair them with preference purchasing clauses or marketing programs such as green certification programs for local businesses, Pilarca said. Rosal agreed as, he said, these policies would certainly play an important role by raising awareness of the environment and, thus, indirectly helping to build the market for green goods and services. They would also create economic development by helping develop new expertise, for instance in green building operations or energy use evaluations, according to the mayor. Legazpi, he said, is officially recognized as one of the three most livable cities in the country today for its coming up with a strategic plan for a highly resilient and livable city featuring a safe and green environment aimed sustaining good public health. “We want to maintain this attribute pinned upon us late last year by the Livable City Challenge, sponsored by the United States Assistance for International Development,” he added.

For DTI, its regional office for Bicol based here said it is working on a project that provides MSMEs with information about technologies that facilitate environmentally friendly and climate-smart activities and help them to recognize their own potentials. Part of it is the conduct of orientations that provide information on green financial products and funding instruments that enable MSMEs to implement their own improvements. The project focuses on the tourism industry, which also involves the transport, souvenir and food sectors, it explained. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC