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EITSC sounds wake-up call for PH to achieve inclusive sustainable dev’t

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Text and photos By Monsi A. Serrano

Presenting high-profile speakers representing the country’s biggest industries, the EITSC Advocacy Forum, held recently in Makati City, sounded a wake-up call to the government and private sector to work together around its theme, “Achieving Win-Win Approaches in Sustainable Development.”

The advocacy forum of EITSC, which is the European Innovation, Technology, and Science Center, was organized through the leadership of German resident in the Philippines, Henry Schumacher, President of EITSC and the Nordic Chamber of Commerce Philippines (NordCham), headed by Joona Selin.

In his opening remarks, Schumacher discussed the importance of having inclusive sustainable development in the Philippines, underscoring the need for the country to adapt to changing times, adopt policies towards sustainable development goals, and learn from the speakers what more and how much more has to be done.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, one of the speakers at the forum, reiterated government’s commitment to work hard so that Filipinos can share in economic growth and prosperity.

He presented the “AmBisyon Natin 2040” program, a 25-year vision that serves as a guide for this administration and the succeeding three administrations with a rationale of having a longer perspective on development planning.

Through this national vision and a common dream of government, NEDA believes that the Philippines can better promote continuity and ensure that each administration from the present builds on the gains of previous ones.

For his part, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. presented the Department of Tourism’s (DOT’s) pitch for sustainable tourism, including farm tourism, and what to expect down the road throughout the years.

Bengzon also shared the struggles and successes in implementing rehabilitation programs which must be seen in a longer-term perspective that will be beneficial not just to the community, but also to the environment.

Citing how DOT joined other departments and agencies in bringing radical change to the management of Boracay Island to make it more sustainable, the DOT official said: “This is just the beginning as DOT targets to roll out sustainable tourism in the whole Philippines.”

Another interesting discussion was from Ms. Doris Magsaysay-Ho, President and CEO of Magsaysay Group of Companies who laid out the “Blue Philippines” plan. “We should look at the holistic approach in managing our vast water territories and be able to capitalize on them,” she said.

Emphasizing proper planning by coming up with storage facilities, ports, and a more efficient system in handling goods in our seaports, Magsaysay underscored the need to also protect our water territories through sustainable fishing and maritime management.

For his part, Dr. Benigno Peczon, the president of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP), discussed the issues of farming in the Philippine setting. He delved on challenges climate change issues as well as the big predicament of the Philippines being rich in coconut, rice and other agricultural products, but never quite being able to capitalize on these advantages.

Peczon pointed out that the agriculture sector of the country must be optimized and hopefully be back as one of the top producers in this region of Asia.

At the same time, the agriculture advocate proposed that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) be placed under the Department of Agriculture (DA) knowing that the Philippines has more water than land, and revealed some shortcomings of the DA’s mandate which is to secure food and provide support to the farmers.

Ms. Jo Ann Eala, Bank of the Philippines (BPI) head of Sustainable Energy Finance and Specialized Lending shared the need for real estate developers to adopt the “green buildings” movement by understanding the benefit of this and make it a legacy for the next generations.

Eala cited the BPI’s Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Program for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate resiliency projects that are now gaining popularity in the country.

Another thing that Eala pointed out was the challenges they encountered in embarking on this kind of program. “The key is to educate first and encourage more and more private sector participation in sustainable initiatives and make it a sustainable venture,” she said.

Meanwhile, George Platzer, manager of Ikano Philippines and IKEA Southeast Asia, pointed out what IKEA has been doing in promoting sustainable development programs around the globe and providing employment.

Platzer addressed THEPHILBIZNEWS at the sidelines of the event, saying: “I am as excited as the Filipinos who are all looking forward to the opening of IKEA in the Philippines. More than the meatballs, we have a lot of exciting new environment-friendly products that will be surely loved by the Filipinos.”

“Care for environment and provide opportunities to the people across the world are our top priorities knowing that many people are escaping poverty but inequality continues to grow. And as we are welcomed in the Philippines, we will also do our part in nation building and continue the sustainable programs and product developments that IKEA commit to the Mother Earth,’ he said.

“We know our history, challenges can be opportunities and limitations can lead to innovations, and knowing our history, and we will remain optimistic about the future,” Platzer emphasized.

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