NATIONAL and local environmental groups are pushing for the creation of the fourth pillar in Asean, giving focus to the environment sector for a thorough discussion on the strategies to combat the environmental destructions caused by the economic growth in the region.
Interface Development Interventions (Idis) Acting Director Chinkie Golle, during the Kapehan sa Dabaw media forum at The Annex of SM City Davao on Monday, July 24, said environment has to be removed from the socio-cultural pillar and be given its specific pillar as there is an urgent need to thoroughly discuss the pressing environmental issues.
The proposed environmental pillar, Golle said, will press the developments and growth paradigm of Asean that have caused violations against its obligation to protect and secure livelihood, food and clean water and air among Asean citizens.
With the economic growth in the countries in Southeast Asia, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMJC) executive director Ian Rivera said it has spurred exploitation of natural resources and inflict damages to the biodiversity that further deepen the planet's vulnerability to climate change.
"Cases of environmental degradation have been the new 'normal' as countries move toward economic growth," Rivera said.
Some 100 delegates from various environmental groups in Southeast Asian countries are in the Philippines for the Asean Senior Officials for Environment (Asoen) since Monday, July 24, to Saturday, July 29, as a preparation for the Asean Ministers' Meeting on the Environment (AMME) to be held in Brunei in September.
Aside from Philippines, Rivera said other Asean countries also call for the establishment of the fourth pillar since the common livelihood in the region is grounded on agriculture, which will be greatly affected once climate change worsens.
He said environmental groups urged Asean Senior Officials and the Ministers on Environment to acknowledge the challenge of maintaining economic growth without having to compromise the environment.
"It is time that they forgo their business as usual mindset and be true to their commitment on addressing environmental issues and climate change impacts in the region," Rivera said.