Poverty and Environment Initiative for Inclusive Green Growth

21 Feb 2013

Keynote Address of UNDP Country Director, Mr. Toshihiro Tanaka, LGUs Advancing Good Governance for Greener, Inclusive Growth: Forum on the Utilization and Development of Natural Wealth, The Peak, Lancaster Hotel, Mandaluyong City


Secretary Bebet Gozun, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change and Chair of Philippines EITI Technical Working Group;
DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero;
DILG OIC-Director Anna Liza Bonagua;
Honorable Provincial Governors, City and Municipal Mayors;
Partners from the Government, Private Sector and Civil Society;

Good morning!

I am pleased to open today’s forum on Local Government Units (LGUs) which are hosting extractive industries, organized through the Philippines Poverty Environment Initiative (PPEI) project and supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as implementing partner. The PPEI’s intention is to link the issues of poverty with the environment and determine a pathway that would enable environment and natural resources to contribute to poverty reduction in a manner where these resources are sustainably managed.

Three words have defined the path of development in the last decade and these are good governance, inclusive, and green. Inclusive–to emphasize that growth must be broad-based to achieve growth with equality rather than growth with inequality. Green–to highlight the challenges of environmental sustainability in the midst of climate change and dependence of humankind on natural resources for subsistence and wealth creation, that has brought degradation and destruction to the only environment that we have: the earth. Lastly, good governance–to underscore what has long been an advocacy for governance to use its power to enable development results. 

At the center of this forum today are LGUs which host extractive industries. These industries have had their own share of controversy and attention for their inherent paradox of having the capacity to create wealth on one hand but with the potential for environmental destruction on the other hand.  The extractive industry is non-renewable and LGUs that host these industries are challenged by the need to balance the threat to the environment with the need to create wealth in order to generate growth that would in the end reduce poverty.

How many scenes have we witnessed just in the recent past where lives lost were attributed to the operations of the industry?  Moreover, evidence shows that areas hosting these industries remain poor in spite of the wealth that has been generated.

So what choice do we have? Responsible mining seems to be the most plausible balancing option.

As the framework for responsible mining states: “Mining affects environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. Mining-related disruptions can impact the physical environment through, for instance, loss of habitat and contamination of surface and ground waters or local communities through, for instance, cultural adjustments to the presence of miners. Although some degree of disturbance is inevitable even in the best-managed mines, nearly all negative social and environmental impacts are avoidable if companies would operate according to the best possible standards. Unfortunately, existing frameworks have not consistently ensured responsible behavior in mining operations, and negative environmental and social impacts occur more frequently than they should.”

We are all for development. Inclusive growth is needed for poverty reduction and this is the current priority of the government. To be sustainable, development must be competitive and should optimize benefits. It is known that mining is one of the world’s oldest forms of resource development, but its history, both locally and internationally, is embattled with a lot of issues–political, social, economic, and environmental. The debate on how mining contributes to development continues.

There are success stories in countries such as Canada, Australia, and Botswana which have shown that responsible mining works as it has improved the quality of life of the people and resulted in the equitable distribution of wealth. But stories of conflicts and tragedies also continue to be heard.

With this in mind, it is the role of the regulating agencies - from the national to local governments - to ensure that these standards of responsible mining are strictly met. As so much is at stake, where human life is the most threatened and where risks are high, the recourse is to manage these risks resolutely to ensure safety, equitable sharing of benefits, and a clear dedication to protect the environment.

I look forward to a very productive forum today with the hope that this will become the starting point in laying the groundwork for a partnership between local governments and the extractive industry that has these three words in mind–good governance, inclusive, and green.

Thank you and good morning!