Alingarog, Leslie Camille
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
Sustainable development has been defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is a way of achieving economic development or growth while utilizing just the right amount of resources. Sustainable Development encourages people to use no more than what they need and ensure that there will be enough resources left for the people to survive in the future. All in all, it is about improving quality of life not just today but also for the future. SCOPE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Most people who do not fully understand what Sustainable development is tend to think that it is just about environmental protection when in reality, it is so much more than that. Sustainable development is a broader and more holistic view of development. It has economic, social and environmental dimensions. It advocates achieving economic development without compromising our social and environmental well-being. Sustainable development also does not focus on conserving natural resources or environmental protection alone. It is about living sustainably, consuming only as much as we need. Sustainable development aims to balance these three dimensions in order to achieve a better way of living for everyone.
WHY IS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ESSENTIAL TO THE PHILIPPINES? Our country, as well as the rest of the world, is a place of finite resources. We all know that we only have limited resources and if we use too much of it, we would not have enough resources for the future generations to survive. Here is where Sustainable Development comes in. Since it promotes living sustainably, it can aid us in changing our way of using resources. With our way of living now, we are exploiting resources faster than it should be. Sustainable development will help us focus on proper and just use of these natural resources.
Large scale economic expansion and industrialization caused environmental problems such as pollution and massive depletion of natural resources. Since the main goal of our country is to achieve economic development, different activities aimed at this are being performed. These activities are causing externalities to our environment. Sustainable development will help us achieve economic growth without damaging or compromising our natural resources. It is best if economic growth-driven actions are integrated with sustainable development. This way, we will be able to achieve growth not just economically, but also environmentally
Population growth in the past years has caused increased use of the resources in the present time. With the number of people living in our country now, our natural resources will not be sufficient for each person to survive. With sustainable development, we will be able to use our resources efficiently and consume only what we need. We must learn to manage and utilize what we have now.
Sustainable Development leads to a better quality of life.
Sustainable development creates long-term economic stability. This is because sustainable development is development that does not cause harm to other aspects of life. With this, it creates a better quality of life for us not just today, but it also ensures a stable life for the future generation. It is better to have a good lifestyle that will last long rather than temporary.
It can aid poverty reduction in our country.
Poverty has always been our country’s problem. Sustainable development will aid in poverty reduction through its social dimension. Projects aimed at Sustainable Development will promote everyone’s right to a better life because it doesn’t want to achieve economic growth alone. It also safeguards every person’s growth.
Sustainable development promotes proper allocation and use of our country’s natural resources. Sustainable development encourages us to change our way of living. People nowadays tend to use resources inefficiently. Some use too much than what they need, which leaves less to those who are in need. Sustainable development promotes proper use and allocation of resources, which means that we use only what we need so that everyone gets their fair share. With this, our country will be able to progress more. Proper use of resources will also be of great help to environmental protection in our country, which means less pollution and calamities.
GOALS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Economic growth or development is essential to sustainable development. But sustainable development promotes this in a different way. Sustainable development aims to achieve growth with consideration to other aspects too. It wants to bring the society to a realization that we cannot live in an economically stable place alone. We also need stability in other aspects for us to truly enjoy economic growth.
Social and Equity Justice
Sustainable development aims to give everyone the right to a healthy, clean, and safe environment. It envisions a place where every person gets to live life properly and equally. By properly, it means that proper income distribution is given to everyone and resources are allocated in a way that every person gets what they need. In the long run, it also promotes social equity not just for people who are living now but also to the future generations by ensuring that the future world they will live in will still have enough resources for them to survive.
Sustainable development encourages that we integrate environmental protection in every action we take. It is very essential that we take care of our environment because without it, we won’t survive. Sustainable development aims for us to change our way of living, the way we develop and use technologies, and other activities that will just lead to environmental destruction. It acknowledges the importance of the environment and the resources in it in our survival.
The main goal of Sustainable development is to balance our economic, social, and environmental needs. If these three factors work in harmony, we can be assured of a better quality of life not just for ourselves but also for the future generations.
HOW TO ATTAIN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Sustainable development does not focus solely on environmental issues. More broadly, sustainable development policies encompass three general policy areas: economic, environmental and social. In other words, the concept of sustainable development requires a change of mindset to bring about full integration of the needs for economic and social development with that to conserve the environment. It also requires the Government and all sectors of the community to work hand in hand in order to achieve a sustainable future for our country.
A. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
First thing that a man can do to attain sustainable development is through Ecological Integrity. This can be done by, protecting and restoring the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life. Some examples of how can we protect and restore our ecological systems is to adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives. Another is to establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to protect Earth's life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage. A man can also promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems, control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful organisms. We can also manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems. And also manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage. Another action to do is to prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach. And how can we avoid harming our environment? We have to take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive. Another is place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm. We must ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities. And lastly, prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances. We also have to adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being. Some of the ways to achieve this are to reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems. We also have to act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Another way is to promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies. We must also learn how to internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards. Another important thing is to ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction. And this last thing, which every one of us must do, is to adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world. The government has a very vital role in making it sure that the whole community acquires ecological integrity. It has to have advance study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired. Adopt programs that will support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations. The whole community must also recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain. B. ECONOMIC JUSTICE
The achievement of sustainable development of a nation relies also to the attainment of economic justice. The government must lead in order to eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative. The most basic needs of the people must be met. It has to guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required. Empowerment of every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and providing social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves is also very important. The community must also recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations. Ensuring that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner must be attained too to be able to achieve economic justice. We must see to it that these economic activities promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations, enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt, ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards, and lastly, require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities. A nation needs to have peace and democracy to fully achieve sustainable growth and development. We must strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice. A nation must create a peaceful and non violent environment so that economic activities are carried on in its full potential and this will surely make the nation’s economy to soar high.
C. SOCIAL EQUITY
Social justice is another aspect that must be taken cared of if we want to attain sustainable development of our nation. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity. To achieve this, we must secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them, promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries, strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members. We must also uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. T attain this, we must eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin; affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods; honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies; and lastly, protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.
BRIEF HISTOY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Earth Summit 1992
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), more known as Earth Summit 1992, took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where about 25,000 government officials from 178 countries, Non-government organization and participated in this event to discuss solutions for global problems such as poverty, war or the growing gap between industrialized and developing countries. This summit focused in three concepts. First is the Earth Charter, it defines principals aiming at development and the protection of the environment. Second, the increase in funding from developed countries to contribute to sustainable development in the south. Lastly and the most important is the Agenda 21.
Agenda 21 is the most important document that came from the Earth Summit. It outlines key policies in achieving sustainable development. It recognizes the needs of the poor and limits of development to meet global needs. The needs are deduced in a fully functional, harmonious, global system that incorporates both people and ecosystems not just in terms of economic interest. Agenda 21 has become the blueprint for sustainability. It attempts to define a balance between production, consumption, population, development and the Earth’s life –supporting capacity. It recommends new ways to care for our natural resources in achieving a sustainable environment.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE PHILIPPINE CONTEXT
Philippine Agenda 21
Philippine Agenda 21 is the national translation of the Agenda 21 and the national blueprint for a sustainable environment. It is the commitment of the Philippines to the UNCED. It envisions a better life for all Filipinos. It laid down principles and strategies across the ecosystem.PA21 identifies three actors in sustainable development. These are: Business who is in charge in the production and services are the key actor in the economy, Government who is in charge of governing and security of human rights and Civil Society who is the key actor in culture that is concerned with the development of the social and spiritual capacities of human beings. Philippine Council for Sustainable Development
Through the Executive Order No. 15, the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) was created on September 1, 1992. It is headed by the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as Chairperson, and the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as Vice-Chairperson. The membership of the Council is composed of various departments of the government and groups/organization from the civil society. The members of the committees and sub-committees are representatives from the national government agencies and their counterpart from the civil society, non-government organizations, and people's organizations. They are in charge of integrating the national policies, plans and programs with the agenda 21.
Philippine Agenda 21 Implementation
Memorandum Order No 288 (s.1995) - Direct formulation of the Philippine Agenda 21 was sign in July 5, 1995 by Former President Fidel V. Ramos.
Memorandum Order No 399 (s. 1996) – Directing the Operationalization of the Philippine Agenda 21 and Monitoring Its Implementation. The Philippine Agenda 21 was officially adopted as the national blueprint for sustainable development.
Memorandum Order No 47 (s. 1999) - Strengthening the Operationalization and Localization of Philippine Agenda 21 and Monitoring Its Implementation. The Local Government Units are directed to implement their own respective sustainable integrated area development plans or their very own local Agenda 21. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Poverty Eradication, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and other concerned government agencies are directed to assist the LGUs in the formulation of the said plans. LGUs are also directed to coordinate closely with Nongovernmental Organizations and People’s Organizations in the formulation of the Local Agenda 21. In line with Memorandum No 47 (s.1999), there are currently 17 Local Councils for Sustainable Development in 12 regions, 2 inter-provinces, 13 provinces, 4 cities, 2inter-mnicipalities and 7 municipalities.
STATE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES
Achieving a Sustainable Development means that while the economy is growing, the lives of the citizens in the country is constantly improving; and as well as decreasing the depletion rate of our natural resources.
A. A Viable And Vibrant Economy Maintained?
Positive economic growth rates (as measured by GDP) have benefited certain sectors of Philippine society but do not reflect social decline and inequity nor the deterioration of the environment associated with economic growth. Despite continued economic growth, challenges remain, which include, among others: high level of public indebtedness; large deficits; and indiscriminate land and ecosystem conversion.
GOAL: GDP per capita level and growth rate at par with other ASEAN countries Growth rate last 2012: 6.6%
GOAL: Equitable income distribution (GNI Index closer to zero)
GOAL: Decrease unemployment rate (rate closer to zero)
B. Social Cohesion And Harmony Well-Established?
Existing measures of human development indicate some improvement over time. However, these improvements are uneven across geographical, income, gender and ethnic groups. The development of human potential is being affected by continuing challenges.
The country’s HDI has been steadily improving, from 0.59 in 2005 to 0.63 in 2011.
GOAL: Improve educational status
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL #2: ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION Philippine Performance
Net enrolment ratio in primary education
Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 6
Primary completion rate
Literacy rate of 15- to 24-year-olds
Ratio of literate females to males of 15- to 24-year-olds
GOAL: Life expectancy at par w/ countries of the same level of economic development
GOAL: Population Growth Rate closer to 1
C. Ecological Integrity Protected?
Even with accelerating economic growth, environmental quality is- fast deteriorating as dramatized by the increased incidence of environmental disasters, problems associated with mine tailings, deforestation, pollution, salt water intrusion and a host of other destructive activities. The regenerative capacities of fragmented areas in the biogeographic zones that nurture flora, fauna and natural resources are severely threatened.
The Philippines has among the highest biodiversity in the world which are settings of its high diversity of human cultures spread across coastal to mountain landscapes from north to south of the archipelago.
GOAL: Declining Rates of Resource Depletion
The goals presented by Philippine Agenda 21 proved to be complex resulting to Sustainable Development being challenging. However, there have been some success stories relating to Sustainable Development that have been observed in several communities throughout Philippines.
Phase out of mercury in health care
The element Mercury found in hospital equipment like thermometers entails risk to the patient, health officials, and others. Broken thermometers leaking mercury and disposing mercury-containing equipment at an open dumpsite are hazardous to our health.
With this, the Department of Health (DOH) announced during the 2006 Southeast Asia Conference on Mercury-Free Health Care that they are in drafts of an executive order to phase out mercury-containing devices in all health care facilities and institutions. For about two years, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), who supports DOH’s campaign, gave educational meetings on the risk of mercury and proper management of mercury spills and researched on the possible alternatives to mercury-containing health devices. Moreover, they published and distributed a list of the researched alternatives to the health institutions. An administrative order, named DOH Administrative Order 21 (AO21) on the Gradual Phase-out of mercury-containing devices in all health care facilities and institutions, was released then on July 2008. This commanded a two-year phase out period for mercury-containing devices. It also listed the guidelines for the phasing out and storage of other mercury containing products.
After this administrative order was released, several public and private hospitals started phasing out the said devices and replaced it with affordable and safer alternatives like digital thermometer.
Philex Mining Corp. Community and Stakeholder Engagement
For many years, activists have been holding Philex Mining Corporation, a corporation who operates the Padcal Mine in Benguet, responsible for the mining area turned wasteland (which did not benefit the community). They were also accusing the corporation for depriving their right to the resources there.
Philex then solved this issue by creating Environment and Community Relations Division (ECRD), an interdepartmental coordinating division directed to pursue a tri-sector approach to community and stakeholder engagement. This division taught the stakeholders on mining operations, provided stable employment to the community, trained the residents in skills and livelihood, and gave free elementary education to children. This approach resulted positively to the stakeholders, the whole community, and the corporation itself. The whole community felt an increase in annual income, improved in the recognition and respect for workers’ rights, and became environmentally aware. Moreover, the corporation was known by the whole and neighboring community by its credibility.
Dark Green School Program (DGSP)
To aid the awareness on the environment of the academe, the Environmental Education Network of the Philippines (EENP) established the Dark Green School Program. This program is “both a whole-school approach for environmental education and an accreditation program. It aims to ensure the integration of sound environmental principles within all components of the schools’ operation: policy, administration and finance, academic curriculum, faculty competence and student internalization -outreach/extension program and production.” (Understanding Enhanced Philippine Agenda 21 booklet)
On how this program works, the institution first self-assesses themselves by the evaluation criteria provided by the EENP. The EENP, afterwards, then validates the findings and evaluation given. An institution is given either a dark green status or a light green status – the first indicating the institution is in its environmental soundness while the latter indicating more improvement. The first three institutions given the dark green status were Miriam College, Visayan University, and De La Salle University Dasmariñas.
So far, this program proves to have a positive impact on the environmental awareness in the Philippines.
The Eco- Solid Waste Management Program of Los Baños
During the late 90’s (before 2001), there was an open dumpsite in Los Baños, Laguna casuing respiratory diseases to the town because of the decomposing wastes leaking to the nearby creek and the unbearable smoke produced by the burning of solid waste.
To address this issue, the Local Government of Los Baños created a program named Waste Segregation Program on 2001. With the participation of the citizens, barangay officials, government employees, UP Police Force, civic organizations and other Los Baños residents, the program campaigned for the strict enforcement of the waste segregation scheme, implementation of a collection schedule for biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes, and imposition of a ban on the use of plastic bags, styrofoam and disposable plates and cutlery in restaurants, fast food chains, and stores, along with the penalties for non-compliance.
The open dumpsite was then converted into an Ecological Waste Processing Center (EWPC), where different types of waste are processed into recyclable materials. Moreover, in support of this program, an organization of waste pickers, waste buyers, and waste scavengers, called as the Los Baños Solid Waste Organization, was formed and they are currently the town’s partners in the management.
With this program, the residents of the town learned and practiced avoiding the use of plastic and other nonbiodegradable materials and replacing these with reusable biodegradable items.
For a developing country like the Philippines, it may therefore be grossly misguided to equate sustainable development with environment because to this day the development challenges that country faces are far more complex and multifaceted. The country is at a stage where rights to even the most basic economic and social benefits of development have not been secured for all its citizens. While it would be desirable to get environmental stewardship intrinsic to the Filipino psyche, the reality is that for a lot of people, the quest for development is still a matter of filling up their stomachs, having roofs over their heads and getting safe water to drink. Be
Elements of sustainable development have been practiced by earlier generations of Filipinos but was somehow lost in the subsequent generations’ aggressive pursuit of industrialization and modernization. Our ancestors have observed principles, values and traditions that are consistent with the essence sustainable development, such as respect for nature as an inseparable aspect of life, spirit of sharing with and caring for fellowmen, a great sense of community as evident in tribal communities, strong moral and spiritual beliefs, etc.
Today, many of the indigenous cultural groups continue to apply the sustainable practices and principles that they have observed for hundreds or thousands of years. Rather than being an entirely new and innovative view of development, embracing sustainable development is to a great extent bringing Filipinos back to the some of the positive values and traditions that have shaped early Philippine society. It is actually a sense of what matters to us as a people in our pursuit of development.
Sustainable development is not something that is implemented. It is a state or a process that we should strive for, seek or pursue.