NGO seeks ‘green approach’ to infrastructure development
Source: BusinessMirror

A NONGOVERNMENTAL organization (NGO) is calling for a “green” approach to infrastructure development in pursuing public-private partnerships (PPP) to help address the worst impacts of climate change.

Former Agrarian Reform secretary Horacio “Boy” Morales, president of the private think tank, La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), in making the call, underscored the need for the government and its various development partners to modernize partnerships that will integrate essential ingredients to national development.

Such ingredients, he said, include a safe, efficient, reliable, cost-effective, accessible and sustainable infrastructure that are crucial to infrastructure development and services covering five key infrastructure themes namely: settlements, agriculture, transportation, water and sanitation and energy.

Morales was the guest speaker during the opening ceremonies of a two-day forum dubbed “Experience-Sharing and Workshop on PPP” at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.

He said the neglected and marginalized sectors of society will be the primary beneficiaries of such development agenda.

A development-policy research and advocacy NGO, La Liga co-organized the event with the British Embassy in Manila and Code Red as part of its commitment to pursue policies, programs and financing toward integrated national PPP for sustainable development in the Philippines.

Morales said the country’s infrastructure development has been perennially plagued by different problems.

“Targets for infrastructure continue to fall short, standards are either unmet or bent, equitable access remain elusive and unfortunately, corruption persists. Also, the disjoint in planning and financing has not lessened the policy-action gap,” he lamented.

Morales said the “unsustainable development path” the Philippines has taken is taking its toll on the environment and natural resources.

“The carrying capacity of ecosystems is obviously stretched,” he said.

Further adding to this woe, he said, is the fact that the country’s vulnerability to climate change and disasters is becoming more and more evident, and the social and economic costs are becoming more staggering.

Such, Morales said, is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Aquino administration, as well as the private sector and citizens’ groups working for reforms.  “These are the challenges that PPP must address,” he said

Fortunately, he said the Philippines are not starting from scratch, as there are already models and success stores on “green” PPP infrastructure initiatives that the various stakeholders on infrastructure development can build on.

Vulnerability assessments and disaster risk reduction and management must be integrated in settlement planning, zoning and resettlement programs, considering that the country is now being visited by more intensifying typhoons, he said.

Aside from “green” infrastructure, partnerships for sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture and fisheries are also emerging, Morales said.

He said as the market demand for organic products increase both domestically and globally, partnership initiatives to mainstream sustainable agriculture technologies are also expected to broaden.

Meanwhile, developing sustainable transport infrastructure systems is another key arena for PPP.   He said partnership building is a strategy that can be maximized to develop an integrated and coordinated transport network.

“PPP will greatly help in achieving a viable, competitive, integrated and sustainable Philippine transportation system,” he said.

On the other hand, Morales said as the country braces for the brunt of the Middle East turmoil in the energy sector, such development also provides an impetus for partnerships to develop alternative and sustainable energy systems. Partnership projects on renewable energy are on the rise given the vast potential of our country for these technologies, he stressed. JONATHAN MAYUGA / CORRESPONDENT

March 9, 2011