Sustainable cities to require private sector investment, DENR says

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Maria Antonia Y. Loyzaga said private sector investment will be required to make cities more sustainable and climate-resilient.

The private sector can have “an influence on how cities are shaped and the way investments are made in infrastructure,” she said at the post-State of the Nation Address economic briefing on Tuesday.

“The private sector through their programs and core business values, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs need to keep in mind the risks we face,” she added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), she said, recognizes the need for “resilience to keep our cities and communities safe, as well as the ecosystems that support them. Keep in mind that many major cities are coastal, or in fact, influenced or aided in development by river systems.”

She also cited the need for integrated water resource management.

“The way we need to approach this is to look at different sectors and look at the demand for the kind of sustainability we want to achieve. We need to reverse engineer, because many of our cities are water stressed,” she said.

“We know from hazards from the past but there is uncertainty in climate change. We must invest in the plausible, not just the possible, in building our cities. The preservation of the environment is the preservation of life. That is the mother statement of the DENR’s vision,” she added.

In his address to Congress on Monday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said that he instructed the DENR and the Department of Public Works and Highways to explore possible partnerships with the private sector to work on climate change and disaster preparedness.

“The Philippines has excellent laws on the environment, but we have to guarantee that these laws are properly enforced. And this will require a great deal of coordination and cooperation between concerned government agencies and private stakeholders,” he said.

“Companies who exploit our natural resources must follow the law. We all have the responsibility to preserve this Earth, for we are but custodians, and we will pass on this great treasure to future generations. If we cannot mitigate climate change, all our plans for the economy, all our plans for our future, will be for naught,” he added.

He also said that investing in technology that will boost capacity-building for natural disaster resiliency will be a priority.

“Geographically, we are a disaster-prone country… investment in science and technology is imperative to enable us to have accurate weather forecasts and on-time disaster alerts,” he said.

“Studies show that already many areas in the Philippines are at high risk from the rise in sea levels brought about by the increase in global temperature. We must adapt to this phenomenon with disaster-proof planning of our communities,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson