MANILA – Business leaders pushed for a 'greener' economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as they warned about the impact of the climate crisis.
While it is important to address the pandemic, the climate crisis is an "even greater emergency" according to Federico "Piki" Lopez, chair and CEO at First Philippine Holdings Corp.
Lopez cited the record-high temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions with floods and heatwaves across the world, during 19th International CEO Web Conference 2021of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).
"There is an urgency for all of us to go beyond incremental sustainability and transform into regenerative forces that align our profit engines with the need for a better world and a safer planet," Lopez said.
He also noted, going green presents some of the greatest business opportunities in the coming century.
Tim Ryan, chair at PwC US, said institutional investors are also now changing how they're assessing investments with focus on environment, social, and governance (ESG) standards.
"Understand that your largest companies globally are making net zero commitments. We all need to take note of that because you have major companies like General Motors, like Microsoft, like Verizon who are making these commitments," Ryan said.
Businesses are now pressured to tackle societal issues as more and more talent place importance on joining companies that have a good ESG record, he added.
OMRON Corporation executive officer Virendra Shelar said their investors have also been asking about the company’s sustainability push.
"Many of our big investors have started asking us about how the company is contributing towards sustainable development goals, what are the ESG that we are doing," he said.
The European Union also expressed its willingness to help the Philippines shift to a more sustainable economy.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron said there's now formidable growth potential in the development of green technology, while stressing the importance of the right governance network for this.
He also said, the country can first focus on addressing its plastic waste problem, which is also being exacerbated by the surge in use of face masks and face shields due to the pandemic.
"A lot of these plastics go very quickly into the ocean and endanger the sustainability of the marine richness of the Philippines and the life of people who benefit from this richness," Veron explained. "We believe this is an area, in cooperation with the government, we think this is an area in which we could, together, do things and learn together."
Veron also shared that the EU is formulating a circular economy framework for the Philippines which is an economic system that addresses issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.