“Ecologically-sound, democratic, and sustainable economic systems: imperative for social and climate justice” —Advocacy groups

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

“Ecologically-sound, democratic, and sustainable economic systems: imperative for social and climate justice” —Advocacy groups

Environment groups, climate justice advocates, and civil society organizations tracked the Philippines’ progress in the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 (sustainable consumption and production or SCP) and 13 (climate action) in an online forum last July 14, 2021.

Dubbed as “Sustainability and Climate Justice Beyond COVID-19”, the forum was organized by IBON International, Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Climate Change Network for Community-based Initiatives (CCNCI), Philippine Network for Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP), Kaisahan ng Artista at Manunulat na Ayaw sa Development Aggression (KAMANDAG), Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsumer para sa Ikauunlad ng bayan (SUKI Network) and was attended by like-minded organizations and individuals.

As a part of the People’s Review of the SDGs 2021 forum series themed “Rising above the health and economic crisis in the time of COVID-19” hosted by the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) through its PH Civil Society SDG Watch, it aims to discuss how the country fares in achieving its SDG targets since its adoption by the Philippine government half a decade ago; as well as to propose policy recommendations in achieving truly-transformative and people-centered development.

The session was opened by Atty. Tony La Viña, a member of CPDG Board of Trustees and prominent indigenous and environmental rights lawyer. In his speech, he explained that the setbacks in achieving the SDGs cannot be addressed in the current social framework.

“The pandemic and the accelerating climate crisis pushed us to actually consider the most radical solutions because that is what we need; solutions that go to the root,” he stated.

The groups assert that the two goals are inseparable as SCP is an integral part in mitigating the risks—and eventually, reversing—the adverse effects brought by climate change. They also noted that tracking the SDGs requires more than data-gathering.

“Meeting the target for SDG 12 and SDG 13 will mean much more than monitoring progress, but more importantly addressing fundamental roots of unsustainable consumption and production and the climate crisis, as well as fighting for sustainable, people-centered economies,” Lorelei Covero, Program Manager of IBON International stated in her speech.

She also pointed out that SDG 12, as promoted by the UN, fails to address the profit-driven roots of unsustainable consumption and production. “The overall policy direction of SCP today, and even existing major initiatives and programs, are narrow, weak, and predominantly focused on efficiency and technological innovations. This is the approach favored by business and most policy makers. The prevailing bias towards the market under globalization and even greater power being accumulated by corporations pose formidable challenges to SCP and sustainable development, in general.” Covero added.

Lia Torres, Executive Director of CEC gave an overview on how current government policies negate the achievement of a truly-sustainable consumption and production system towards combating climate change.

Mababa ang effectivity ng policies para pangalagaan ang kapaligiran. Sinasabing ang mga polisiya ng Pilipinas ay isa sa pinakamaganda sa buong mundo pero hindi natin nakikita na ang implementasyon nito ay out-of-tune sa ibang patakaran,” Torres explained, citing how the national aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is defeated by over-reliance to coal-based energy as an example.

Added to this, the government’s concept of sustainability is deemed anti-people as it is highly punitive to the poor. The burden of sustainability is reduced and presented as mere waste reduction while responsible consumption becomes a part primarily played by consumers. For production, small-scale operations are usually subjected to the law in a rigid way while big corporations that generate the most waste and pollution get exempted.

“The biggest mistake in dealing with sustainable development is to think it can be fixed by just a person changing their lifestyle, changing their diet. It would be a big mistake to think that anything each of us can do will make a difference in these SDGs. Because what we need is for corporations to change, governments to change; what we need as peoples is to remove the roots which cause these and that includes injustice and inequality,” Atty. La Viña emphasized.

Kapag pumunta ba tayo sa groceries mayroon ba tayong choice sa packaging ng produktong bibilhin natin? May option ba tayong bumili ng produktong walang plastic [packaging] o wala sa sachet? Kahit gustuhin nating mga konsyumer na magbawas ng plastic waste, wala tayong ibang alternative,” Torres said, hitting the blame-game of the government to individual consumers.

With its current policies that allow ecologically-destructive practices to persist while equally disregarding the rights and the needs of the people, the country will not succeed in attaining its  respective SDG targets.

Pia Montalban, co-convenor of KAMANDAG, presented their case study of the New Clark City in Tarlac which displaced indigenous Aeta and farmer communities. She argued that the government’s presentation of the billions-worth project as a “sustainable and smart city” is deceitful because it cost the livelihoods and homes of its original inhabitants.

Land conversion is among the primary issues that pose threat to sustainability, the environment, and climate change adaptation. Rich mountainous regions of Mindanao are likewise threatened. With the expansion of plantations, mining and logging operations, indigenous peoples are in a constant battle in preserving their ancestral domain.

The transport sector is integral in reducing waste towards a truly-sustainable consumption and production system and curbing GHG emissions to fight climate change. However, “green technology” is being used as a pretext by rich multinational corporations to enforce their products and policies on underdeveloped countries at the expense of the poor’s livelihood and rights.

The program was concluded by Prof. Reggie Vallejos of SUKI Network, an alliance of organizations for consumer issues.

Ang problema ay may corporate control sa consumption and production. Sa kabilang banda, limited ang pagtingin sa climate action ang purely environmental lang. Pag tinitignan natin ang climate action o climate justice, dapat tinitignan din ang tumitinding inequalities sa mamamayan,” he narrated, affirming how the current economic makeup dominated by big corporations induce inequalities and hinder people’s movements from advancing genuine development agenda.

Prof. Vallejos ended the forum with recommendations for pro-people and pro-environment policies in the vein of People Economics in lieu of the status quo.

“Kailangang i-push ang democratic consumption and production systems na palagi yung mamamayan ang nasa sentro, lalo ang mga vulnerable sectors. Una rito ay ang pag-acknowledge sa rights and sovereignty nila,” Prof. Vallejos concluded.

Preceding forums led by different organizations and institutions included the People’s Review of SDG 1: no poverty and SDG 10: reduced inequalities0, SDG 2: zero hunger, SDG 3: health and well-being, SDG 8: decent work and economic growth, among others. Succeeding events can be found at CPDG’s website and Facebook page.
Watch the forum here. ###