Thursday, December 27, 2012

Philippine updates: Philippines: First country in Southeast Asia to adopt ecological footprint accounting

Philippines: First country in Southeast Asia to adopt ecological footprint accounting

(Manila, Philippines) - The Philippines has been known to be one of the countries with the highest biological diversity, endowed with a wealth of natural resources. However, a new report, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, commissioned by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) shows that the country had entered into a situation of ecological deficit since the mid-1960’s and the gap continues to widen.
According to “A Measure for Resilience: 2102 Report on the Ecological Footprint of the Philippines,” the report prepared by the Global Footprint Network, sustainable management of resources in the Philippines can help the emerging economy address its goals of greatly reducing poverty in the context of inclusive growth. Conversely, failure to manage the impacts of development on the environment will hamper efforts to better the lives of its people. 
The newly released Report shows that the human footprint on the environment has surpassed the ability of nature to sustainably provide for the needs of the populace and if allowed to deteriorate, may jeopardize the advancement of human development. 
The report points to overharvested fisheries, diminishing forests, unproductive croplands, built-up areas, and livestock impacts, and carbon emissions as key areas of concern. The CCC has adopted the Ecological Footprint as a tool to measure the productive area of land and water required to provide for the resources that the Philippine populace needs for its consumption and absorb its wastes. 
As of 2008, Filipinos have been using more than twice the biological capacity of the Philippines. The ecological footprint of the average Filipino stood at 1.3 global hectares in 2008. This means that every Filipino required 1.3 hectares of productive land and water to provide for his needs and absorb waste. However, the available biological capacity in the Philippines for every resident was only 0.6 global hectares. The difference – 0.7 hectares is the ecological deficit.
In a message supporting the Report, President Benigno S. Aquino III asserted that “indeed, the time is right, for ecological accounting,” referring to the work of the CCC showing the way forward in embarking on the critical exercise of examining the country’s ecological footprint in relation to its biological capacity. 
“As the Philippines anticipates robust economic growth, stronger trade relations, rapid development, and a growing population, it is necessary to measure the ability of nature to provide for our national goals. Mitigating and adapting to the impacts of a changing global climate mean pursuing prosperity in a manner that ensures the integrity of our vital natural resources and protecting our country from risk,” the President stressed.
The CCC adopted the Ecological Footprint approach as a way of understanding how resilience to climate change may be enhanced. In the face of the global climate change crisis, the Philippines has embarked on a dynamic process towards building a roadmap that serves as the basis for the national response to climate change, establishing an agenda upon which the country pursues concrete actions to confront the impacts of a changing climate and work towards its sustainable development goals. 
The President of the Global Footprint Network, Mathis Wackernagel underscored the importance of ecological accounting in economic decision making. “We see ever more evidence that resource constraints have become an increasingly significant determinant of economic success in the 21st century. Yet most economic decisions are made as if this part of the equation did not exist,” said Wackernagel. 
Through the National Strategic Framework on Climate Change and the National Climate Change Action Plan, the country pursues its vision of a climate-risk resilient Philippines with healthy, safe, prosperous and self-reliant communities, and thriving and productive ecosystems. 
Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering emphasized the importance of the ecological footprint study in the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan. “The country clearly views the climate change challenge as an opportunity to effect transformation across the widest possible range of sectors and has closely identified its response to climate change with the pursuit of sustainable development.  The measurement of the national Ecological Footprint and biological capacity therefore plays a crucial role in the implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan. Building resilience against climate change means managing risk. We cannot manage what we cannot measure,” Sering said.
The sobering nature of the findings notwithstanding, the President highlighted the spirited character of the Filipino people. “Filipinos have shown time and again that we are a resilient people. Together, we can make the Philippines a model of true sustainable development in the region and the rest of the world.”
The production of the report was supported by the AgenceFrancaise de Developpment (AFD). The next phase of the project intends to examine the ecological footprint and biological capacity of Metro Manila, with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as key partners. 
For more information:
Usec. Naderev M. Saño
Commissioner, Climate Change Commission
Mobile:  +63 908 8935168

Download the report "A Measure for Resilience: 2102 Report on the Ecological Footprint of the Philippines" at

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