Go Green, Philippines!

Volcano Wall. Photo by Storm Crypt | flickr.com

Building upon my previous article about sustainability in ASEAN countries, I'd like to talk about individual initiatives from each of the ASEAN countries in a mini-series of articles.

The Philippines is a beautiful country, with a vibrant culture, people, and exotic locations. However, industrialization and technological progress has left the country polluted and with depleting natural resources. Enter an initiative called Go Green Philippines, seeking to reduce the negative environmental impact the country has faced, addressing these issues on multiple fronts.

Forest Management is an issue of magnitude in the Philippines, as illegal logging and deforestation is a cause of the country’s struggles with flooding and landslides. Go Green seeks to mitigate, alleviate, and sustain forestry in the Philippines, and to reduce harmful environmental effects while sustaining the Philippines’ fashion jewelry industry (which currently utilizes these trees extensively).

The next step is in the Coastal Environment, where Go Green seeks to protect coral reefs and establish sea shell sanctuaries. Similar to forestry, the lack of regulation and enforcement of policy has led to a large amount of coral reef destruction, which threatens the ecosystems in the over 7,000 islands that the Philippines is composed of. Being in the marine animal industry myself, this is something that I can really relate to (my love for the ocean and its wonders is quite deep!). Dynamite and cyanide fishing are common practices I hear of, and there needs to be stricter regulation to prevent this from happening. The destruction of these vital ecosystems would not only cripple industries such as tropical fish export and tourism, but also detract from the beauty of the Philippines’ natural landscape.

Go Green also seeks to help the people, who are the ultimate determinants of whether strong sustainability will become a reality. People in rural communities will be given skills training, education, and livelihood programs that will help their economic states while supporting the fashion jewelry industry. This would allow people to become more conscious about where the materials come from, while at the same time empowering them with skills to live better lives.

The Go Green initiative does a great job of forecasting their goals, and carrying them out in phases to achieve their vision of a better Philippines. People may dismiss sustainability as a “cost”, but Go Green also emphasizes how sustainability is good for business. Scarcity of natural resources would lead to a lack of supply, and when companies cannot keep up with demand, they run into problems.

Go Green’s initiative is also consistent with ASEAN and the ASEAN Business Club’s vision for the improvement of Southeast Asia as a whole. By addressing the environmental issues through reasoning by way of economics and business, I believe that this approach will do great things. The reason sustainability is largely ignored in developing countries is because money is treated as a priority – however, when people realize that sustainability leads to a better long term outcome in terms of personal and business interests, they may be more inclined to save some water and turn off the light switch, to make way for a brighter future.

To read more about Go Green Philippines, please check out their website.