Shoots of the green economy

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Monday, July 14, 2014


DURING a meeting of the organizing committee of the 9th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival, a participant asked, “Has Negros Island attained the Green Economy?” The theme of the organic fair for the current year is “One Negros, One Green Economy.” So what is the Green Economy?

The World Resource Institute defines the Green Economy “as an alternative vision for growth and development; one that can generate growth and improvements in people’s lives in ways consistent with sustainable development. A Green Economy promotes a triple bottom line: sustaining and advancing economic, environmental and social well-being.”

On the other hand, UNEP’s working definition “as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks from climate change, and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy promotes “low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive” production.

Key words would be to “generate growth and improvement in people’s lives.” For Negrenses, that means upland and lowland farmers, indigenous communities, the urban poor must experience income growth so that they can access better housing, education, and life expectancy.

For the organic industry, it means the general development in the value and supply chains: the men and women growers, processors, traders, retailers, and the consumers.

“Environmental well-being” means in the context of organics, the non-use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or of terminator or suicide seeds that prevent farmers from producing viable offspring seeds because biotech growers used gene-use restriction technology (GURT) so that the crop is unable to reproduce new seeds.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization promotes organic agriculture as an alternative approach that maximizes the performance of renewable resources and optimizes nutrient and energy flows in agro-ecosystems. Soil emissions of nitrous oxides and methane from arable or pasture use of dried peat lands can be avoided by organic management practices.

For forest conservation, it means using non-timber forest products while protecting the forest timber resources. María Cristina S. Guerrero, the current NTFP-Exchange Programme-Asia Executive Director, pointed out that in the Philippines forest-dependent communities use bamboo, biofuels, exudates such as resins, forest foods, honey, palms, rattan and vines for their livelihoods.

For energy, the focus is on developing renewables and the use of technology where growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution; enhancing energy and resource efficiency; and preventing the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

A Green Economy implies the care of our island mountains that house the Northern Negros and Mt. Kanlaon Natural Parks, the Ilog-Hilabangan Watershed, and Mt. Talinis and Twin Lakes protected areas at the Oriental side. Negrenses depend on our mountains for fresh water, clean energy, irrigation water, minerals, forest, NTFPs, mountain tourism, and genetic resources such as heirloom rice varieties.

Where is Negros Island in the green economy? We have planted the various shoots of the Green Economy and they have taken roots. We have the organics industry, building the infrastructure for renewables such as solar power and hydropower, mountain tourism, and NTFP development. But the shoots need to grow and expand.

Negrense stakeholders from the local governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and community-based organizations have laid the foundations for the Green Economy. We have to build and strengthen its infrastructure. Our present and future generations of Negrenses depend on us to see the success of endeavors as we prepare for the onslaught of climate change.

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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