Innovating Businesses and Adapting to Climate Change

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, July 21, 2014


I ATTENDED the 23rd North Luzon Area Business Conference to help the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Baguio-Benguet Chapter document the proceedings of the two day event at the Baguio Country Club.

It was my third time to do so on official time and I recall chronicling the talks of big names in the business industry as well as high profile personalities.

With the theme “Innovating and Connecting Towards Achieving Sustainable Growth”, the NLAB was hosted by the officers and Board of Directors of the host PCCI led by its President Mr. Benedicto M. Balajadia and Engr. Alfonso T. Lao who is also the Area Director of PCCI North Luzon.

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The highlights of the conference happened on the second day when Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino addressed the delegates and encouraged the business sector to adopt creative and innovative solutions in their areas of trade and commerce. The young senator also discussed the Aquino administration’s move for an inclusive growth that aims to increase the level of economic activities in the country. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, Aquino also stressed the need to increase the level of economic activities in the area mentioning money, market, mentorship and mindset shift as key elements to achieve this. He also mentioned how government should be perceived as a service provider rather than a permit giver.

A social entrepreneur before he became a senator, Aquino also mentioned how the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs should partner with government offices such as the Department of Trade and Industry for access of trainings and trade assistance. He ended his talk encouraging the participant to be vigilant in anything that affects businesses on all levels. He mentioned that his team also networked with Civil Service Commission to rid out red tape in the bureaucracy through WASAK or Wawakasan Ang Mga Tiwaling Tauhan ng Pamahalaan which he and his supporters is advocating. Before the senator left the conference, he was met by DTI delegates from the Cordillera who also attended the business conference.

As part of the afternoon session of the NLAB conference, Jose Maria Lorenzo Tan, the Vice-Chairman and the President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Philippines talked on “Managing the Impact of Climate Change”. He presented revealing worst case scenarios that can happen to areas such as Baguio City, Dagupan, Laoag and Angeles City in the near future concerning climatic change. Tan’s multi-media presentation showed sea flooded parts of Central Luzon as well as way above the ideal human footprints in highly urbanized places such as Metro Manila and the Tagalog Region. “We have a complex and diverse future therefore we must have a Plan-B or Plan Cs” he said. Tan is also the Chairman of the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation and a member of the WWF Enabling Team, Coral Triangle Initiative. Tan revealed that Manila City hall is flooded every time it rains because it is not designed for flooding. One immediate solution to ease flood waters is to drain the clogged esteros or waterways along the Metro Manila area.

The WWF executive presented a run through and possible scenario for the next twenty years based on environmental trends. He showed charts and graphs of situations in the past twenty years that lead his group to understand what trends could happen in the future. There will be more vehicles, housing units, businesses, agriculture activities and so on and businesses should have an adapting capacity that considers socio economic sensitivity, household income, functional literacy and level of employment of the general populace.

In his presentation, Tan cited four North Luzon areas namely Baguio Laoag, Dagupan and Angeles City and what could happen to these cities in the future.

Baguio with 5,600 people per square kilometer with no airport is dependent on land connection has highest rainfall that create landslides he said. If the ice melts in North Pole, Baguio will suffer from marginalized access with only three roads. He observed that tourism is declining adding that Baguio should lobby for an all weather access. The strength of Baguio lies on its people if they work together Tan said. Dagupan which has the smallest land area but highest population density can reinvent itself for as long as it thinks beyond the tambak tambak system. Dagupan’s strength according to Tan is TPLEX and it should continue to produce Bangus. Laoag with 800 people per square kilometer has a low population growth but dependent to OFW according to Tan. The future of Laoag according to him is tied with the Laoag River. Everything that happens upstream has an impact downstream Tan said referring to the river that gets its waters from the Cordillera Mountains. As to the City of Angeles which has 5200 people per square kilometer, Tan believes that this growth area near the coastline is anchored to Clark but many towns of Pampanga will be adversely affected by the Central Luzon River Basin.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 22, 2014.

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