MOVING to Green Economic Development may give the Philippines the edge in the Asean Economic Community, a green advocate in Europe believes.

"The Asean Integration is an opportunity for the Philippines to shift to a greener development path that is environmentally friendly and climate smart," said Dr. Volker Steigerwald of the PRO-Green Economic Development Project.

While the country still has problems moving the Asean Integration, the Deutshe Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a federally owned public benefit enterprise, sees a potential in the country, particularly Cordillera.

"The Philippines, at this point in time is in a soft spot because of the very high economic growth, when it is much easier to transform," Steigerwald said.

In Cordillera, the government could partner with the private sector in charting a roadmap towards GED.

"Going green should be the integral part of the modernization strategies of our industries," he said.

While going green is not seen as an add-on to the global value-chain, it is a driver of competitiveness, innovation, new markets and jobs which mean inclusive growth and poverty reduction, Steigerwald stressed.

He said the key for Cordillera's industry to be globally competitive is to transition from a resource-based economy to an efficiency-based economy and onward to an innovation-driven economy.

Instead of taking advantage of the natural resources for corporate businesses, the concept should be turned around, taking advantage of business operations to address or mitigate the impacts of climate change, he said.

According to Steigerwald, industries in the Cordillera should be resource based in to cut production costs as well as costs for waste, toxic waste, wastewater management and the ecological footprint.

He said manufacturing companies must comply with international standards such as the ISO 50001 certification on energy management, ISO 14000 certification on environmental management, and the ISO 26000 certification on social responsibility.

Steigerwald said good business practices are not only eco-friendly nor climate smart but also business-friendly.

Although business industry associations are the ones to implement all of the greening practices, Steigerwald called on the government to come up with laws or incentives guided by the GED direction.

With a sustainable GED, he is confident the Cordillera can hurdle the challenges of the Asean Integration, benefit from its investment opportunities and be a model to neighboring provinces, regions or even the country.