The Philippines Should Care about Sustainability: Here’s Why


“Sustainability” seems to be a term thrown around often lately by businesses for a good reason: consumers demand it. A Forbes article revealed that highly empowered consumers are likely to look for and commit to brands that champion the concept.

Nearly 70 percent of buyers look for brands that help decrease environmental impact. Meanwhile, over 45 percent of consumers buy organic products, and at least 60 percent search for energy-efficient labels when shopping.

In the Philippines, a growing number of companies pay attention to sustainability, including sustainable plans in real estate. This means that developers don’t just convert the land but they also give back to the environment and society.

These may include providing livelihood to nearby communities, engaging in forestry efforts, and creating efficient transport systems to decrease carbon footprint.

However, the country may need to step up its efforts in sustainability. Here’s why: the Philippines is the most at risk from climate change.

A 2019 report by the Institute for Economics and Peace revealed that the Philippines is the most at risk from the effects of climate change, beating Myanmar, Bangladesh, Japan, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

The impacts could be devastating. Global warming, for example, raises water levels as ice caps begin to melt. The Philippines is an archipelago, which means many of its islands are surrounded by water, and a lot of these places are low-lying lands.

When water levels rise, it could leave over 150,000 hectares of coastland underwater, according to a University of the Philippines study.

This problem will then lead to displacement. At least 70 percent of the population will be affected, with a huge percentage losing their homes permanently.

Climate change is also altering and disrupting the weather. One of these is the increased incidents of hurricanes or typhoons, especially in countries already prone to them, including the Philippines. The intensity of these weather systems may also strengthen over time.

More Typhoons

Typhoons are both costly and deadly. According to Insurance Journal, in three weeks, three strong typhoons that passed through the country left scores of people—over a hundred of them—dead. The cost of infrastructure damage also reached at least 25 billion pesos.

A report by Rappler, on the other hand, showed that a typhoon could severely hurt one of the country’s economic foundations: agriculture.

In 2020 alone, the industry suffered from damage worth over 12 billion pesos, which was higher than the figure in 2019. Experts also revealed that it could even reach 90 billion pesos, which would then account for 0.15 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Typhoons could lead to the following problems:

  • Increased risk of food insecurity – The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) cited that a whopping 64 percent of the country’s population is food insecure. This means millions don’t have easy access to food supply. Almost 55 million are chronically food insecure. Because typhoons can hurt the country’s food supply and even logistics, climate change can leave more Filipinos hungry.
  • Displacement – Typhoons can damage properties in different areas of the country. However, they are most devastating for people living in coastal communities. Their livelihood can suffer, and people are likely to lose their homes and, worse, their lives. These factors may drive them to leave their places and move to other regions. Unfortunately, displacement may only worsen urban congestion, especially in cities like Manila.

As more people congregate in a small space, prices of commodities may increase because of demand. In fact, the country’s capital is the third most expensive city to live in in Southeast Asia. This situation will only drive more families into poverty.

Displacement can also worsen the unsustainability of the country. This is because there may not be enough resources available for everyone.

Loss of Marine Life

With many homes situated in coastal areas, several Filipinos depend on fishing for livelihood. However, climate change can be challenging for the fisherfolk.

One of the biggest impacts of climate change on marine life is the death of corals, which drive away fish in the area. Fisherfolk will have fewer fish to catch, which could lessen their household income and increase the prices of such a commodity in the market because of low supply.

Over the years, the Philippine economy is experiencing amazing progress with more foreign investments coming in and more businesses opening their doors. However, unsustainability can put a dent or even a stop to this growth.

Worse, the domino effect of global warming can change the tide around as more people get hungry, are displaced, and lose their primary income and even lives. Now is the best time for Filipinos to pay more attention to sustainability.

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