Monday , May 21, 2018

‘Great time to turn green’

CITING the country’s sustained economic growth, a GIZ (German International Cooperation) official yesterday said now is the time for the country to shift to green economic development.

In a press conference yesterday, Volker Steigerwald, project manager of GIZ Promotion of Green Economic Development Project (ProGED) said the country can bank on its sustained economic momentum to step forward and embrace a green economy to improve the country’s competitiveness in the next five to 10 years.

He said the country can take advantage of green development in strengthening its image as “the new tiger in Asia.”

“Given the sustained economic growth, now is the time to shift to green economic development,” Steigerwald said.

The German Government, through the GIZ and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), launched the ProGED project at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. The new project, which will run for three years until 2015, will be piloted in Bohol and Cebu.

Steigerwald announced that the German Government has set aside Euro 3 million to implement the project among the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The project will be upscaled outside the pilot areas in its second year.

New market, new jobs

DTI 7 Director Asteria Caberte said that while climate change and pressing environmental issues have become threats to most businesses, ProGED perceives green economic development as a driver of competitiveness, innovation, new markets and jobs that will eventually contribute to inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

“We are not doing this project simply because we want to save the earth...but we are confident that going green in the business can make MSMEs competitive in the global scale,” said Steigerwald.

The project aims to pursue its objective along three intervention lines: information awareness on green economic development, green service facilitation and match-making and working toward green framework conditions.

Caberte said the project will specifically “green” the value chain of Bohol’s tourism industry and health and wellness industry of Cebu.

DTI-Bohol Provincial Director Nanette Arbon said they will tap the sub-sectors of tourism, like accommodation and transport, for the green economic development implementation in their province.

DTI-Cebu Provincial Director Nelia Navarro, on the other hand, said they will work with hospitals, hotels and restaurants that are part of the health and wellness council of Cebu.

The project will also be extended to other players like those in the food, souvenirs, and fashion accessories sub-sectors.

To encourage players to involve their businesses in the project, Caberte said they will be working with government agencies in coming up with incentives.

They will include the Board of Investments (BOI) in the project for them to offer incentives, particularly to businesses adopting renewable energy in their operations.

She said they can work with the BOI’s existing incentives or ask for some improvements in their packaged incentives.

While green business operations now mean more profit, Steigerwald said they will also help in linking MSMEs to various financing institutions and help bring local and foreign funds to the sector.

GIZ ProGeD regional coordinator Miriam Bacalso added they will also link the MSMEs to green service providers and work with the local government units so they would know how to support MSMEs that are ready to adopt green operations in their businesses.

On their end, Caberte added the DTI will continue to examine their projects and think of entry points on how it can benefit the ProGED project.

Caberte announced that the DTI has launched their flagship project this year on shared service facility for SMEs to cut production cost.

Through these facilities, SMEs could opt not to purchase equipment and other production requirements, and instead use the available machinery and services offered by the government.

Steigerwald said this presents an opportunity toward green economic development because, as the government looks for environment-friendly suppliers, this would change the landscape and eventually trigger suppliers to come up with environment-friendly and climate-smart machinery or equipment.

He added DTI’s role in protecting consumer welfare also presents another window of opportunity to drum up green economic development awareness in the Philippine market.

“If there’s one challenge seen, it’s on how to make the current upswing sustainable,” said Christof Wegner, commercial counselor of the German Embassy.

But he is optimistic the project would earn positive results, given the quality of technical assistance that will be extended by the ProGED team. “Germany has always been a frontrunner in terms of sustainability and green technology,” he said.