‘Tiger City’ leading the pack to ‘green’ routeBy Theresa S. Samaniego
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The aggressive pursuit for a greener Philippines is one advocacy that local governments are now more than eager to undertake.
With the adverse effects of climate change becoming more apparent and destructive, leaders across government agencies, private companies and cause-oriented groups are hard-pressed to look for ways to ensure a more sustainable, low-carbon path for their respective districts and the rest of the country.
The city government of Mandaluyong, for one, has willingly taken a share in the herculean task of creating a greener Philippines when it formed a partnership with the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private sector funding arm of the World Bank group.
Through a memorandum of understanding signed in July, the Mandaluyong city government and the IFC will jointly develop “green building regulations” that are expected to help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and consequently, mitigate the impact of climate change.
During a public ceremony held at the Mandaluyong City Hall in July, Mayor Benhur Abalos affirmed the city’s commitment to work with IFC toward drafting a green building ordinance that would require new buildings in the city to include environment-friendly features in their design, construction and operation.
These features will promote more efficient use of energy, water and construction materials and better waste management, the IFC said in a statement.
“With rising power rates and increased frequency of destructive typhoons coming our way, Mandaluyong is called upon to take the lead in green building initiatives,” Abalos was quoted as saying.
“This project will eventually help all of us in adapting to the impact of climate change as well as in reducing the city’s operational costs. We are encouraged that IFC is providing its expertise, global network and assistance to this program,” he added.
According to IFC, it will help build local capacity and promote public awareness for local regulators, developers and other stakeholders. The city’s own buildings and offices will adopt green features to demonstrate the financial viability of environment-friendly construction.
“Mandaluyong’s leadership in green building regulations takes to the next level its partnership with IFC in policy reform, building on the success of their collaboration in the regulatory simplification of business licensing and registration. This green building initiative will help attract environmentally responsible businesses to the city and make it a healthier and safer place to live and work in,” added Jesse Ang, IFC resident representative in the Philippines.
On a local scale, the construction of green buildings will ensure operational efficiencies for private sector businesses and government agencies, a move that will consequently help the government in cutting costly oil imports used for power generation.
According to the IFC, a study by the Department of Energy showed that Philippine commercial and residential buildings consumed more than 35 million megawatt-hours of electricity in 2010, accounting for about 50 percent of the country’s total electricity supplied from the grid.
On a larger scale, the pursuit for a greener Philippines has become more pressing as the country ranked third in the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change, based on a study of the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security.
The World Bank stated that losses from natural disasters accounted for more than 0.5 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product annually, and climate change is expected to increase these losses further.