PH Programs ‘Green’ Impact Cited

NEW DELHI, India - Philippine priority areas of investment - tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure - cited recently by President Benigno Aquino III in Davos have extraordinary impact with the country's quest for a green economy.

This was stressed yesterday by Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez of the Climate Change Commission in a speech at the 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS 2013) in India during a gathering of international political, environment, business and science leaders who sought to define the global challenge of resource efficient growth and development.

The three-day summit is organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) under Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who also chairs the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. TERI was ranked 20 in the list of top global think tanks on environment and 16 in top global think tanks on science and technology.

Underscoring efforts to optimize green economic benefits, Alvarez cited river basin development, climate-smart agriculture, and black carbon mitigation as major examples of the Philippine drive to gradually shift to a green economy.

Pointing out that the Philippines has 412 river basins in 119 proclaimed watersheds, with a combined area constituting 70 percent of our land mass, Alvarez said President Aquino last year issued an Executive Order giving priority development to 18 major river basins.

Through a multi-faceted, long-term strategy called "Integrated and Ecosystem-based River Basin Management Project," it started with the development of Cagayan River, the largest and longest river in northern Luzon.

Green jobs and green growth will be generated in a wide variety of subsidiary projects along the river, wetlands and surrounding forests, including National Greening Program which targets 1.5 billion trees to be planted in 1.5 million hectares of degraded or denuded areas from 2011-2016.

River basin development is tied to "climate smart" agriculture, Alvarez said, disclosing that climate-smart agriculture is giving farmers wider access to modern technology and machinery, better infrastructure, plant genetic resource management, and better management of natural resources.

"Our agriculture - which at 32 percent is the largest component of the Philippine GDP - is the sector most affected by tropical storms and weather anomalies. By building resiliency in our farming methods, climate-smart agriculture will soon make the Philippines sufficient in rice and major staples by end-2013," the former senator said.

Climate smart agriculture will multiply the number of national and communal irrigation systems and small water impounding systems. Expanded irrigated croplands are likely to triple our rice and food production since an irrigated hectare of land can produce three rice crops in a year," he said, adding "this is why President Aquino in Davos expressed optimism that the Philippines will soon be a net rice exporter."