COVID-19 has catalyzed considerable reflection on how best to restore a balance between people and planet. These no longer need to be seen as trade-offs. Prosperity can go hand in hand with responsible custodianship of our planet. While the Philippines is not a major emitter of greenhouse gasses, the nature of its cities and transport systems, the heavy reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source, rapidly depleted forest cover, and accelerating habitat and biodiversity loss all provide an opportunity to make brave new choices that move away from unsustainable growth and allow the country to grow economically within its ecological boundaries.
Better Business for a Better Philippines
UNDP’s seminal publication ‘Better Business, Better World Philippines’ (2019) identified an economic prize in the SDGs worth more than US$82 billion by 2030, alongside large environmental and social benefits that can be achieved through the shift to sustainable business models. The report details the most significant business opportunities aligned with the SDGs in four key areas of the Philippine economy: cities and mobility; energy and materials; food and agriculture; and health and well-being. These opportunities have the potential to create 4.4 million new jobs by 2030. While all these key areas have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, these sectors also represent key opportunities to bounce back better. UNDP will work with businesses to transform and succeed after COVID-19. UNDP will undertake research and preparation of sector specific market intelligence that can translate country level SDG gaps and priorities into private sector investment opportunities. The private sector will also be assisted to manage and measure their impacts on the SDGs. This includes developing the type of governance, data collection/management, and reporting practices needed to make investments “SDG-enabling.” UNDP will also facilitate investor forums that can align global impact capital with specific SDG-aligned businesses and facilitate dialogues between businesses and government to overcome barriers in investing in the SDGs.
Mineral Wealth Fund
The BARMM government potentially will be the beneficiary of vast amounts of revenues derived from the mineral wealth within its boundaries. These revenues, if used wisely, can secure the well-being of a future generation of the Bangsamoro and provide a critical buffer against future shocks that would enable provision of comprehensive amelioration payments while preserving investments in key development programs. UNDP will work with the BARMM government on a framework for responsible mining and options for a ‘bespoke’ Universal Basic Income, and the establishment of a Wealth Fund capitalized from mineral extraction revenues.
Evidence base for green policy and investments
In the Philippines, where some 2.3 million Filipinos have no access to energy, improving energy access through renewable energy (RE) can power economic growth and provide green jobs, and enable off-grid connectivity which is much needed in a post-pandemic digital world. UNDP will develop the evidence base to influence policy and accelerate investments in renewable energy and green jobs. An in-depth study of the impacts and opportunities in the RE sector shall be undertaken and will consider potential employment generation, the socio-economic impacts of energy access to impoverished households, and new inclusive business opportunities. A macro level analysis of the impacts on energy resilience or energy security, vulnerability to shocks and foreign exchange fluctuations, changes in global oil and coal prices and other fiscal and economic impacts of the shift to low carbon energy solutions, including estimation of potential government savings shall be part of the analysis. A similar study will be undertaken on the economic costs and benefits of shifting to low carbon transport systems. These studies will be complemented with the piloting of sustainable mobility solutions.
Innovative Green Finance
As the Philippines seeks to tackle the climate challenge, access to finance has emerged as a critical element. Globally, private investors – often supported by public policy and finance – are already channeling significant amounts of money into the low carbon economy, but very little of this has found purchase in the Philippines and there has been little success in attracting private investment at the scale needed to reach their sustainable development and energy access goals. UNDP will work with the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance network to design, pilot and promote financial instruments that can unlock billions for energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable transport, climate-smart agriculture, and curbing deforestation, while also reducing private investors’ risks and improving their financial returns. A public-private partnership, the lab brings together and catalyzes broader government and private sector efforts to scale up climate finance.