Climate change is one of the most prevalent and threatening global phenomena that call for an urgent collective action. No less than the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement prove this.
The SDGs provide a cross-cutting goal to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” (SDG 9). Accompanying this goal is the target to develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure to support economic development.
To attain this goal is indeed complex. It requires the conventional infrastructure development to transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and sustainable development pathway. This in turn entails innovation, significant financing, and a major shift in a way that all stakeholders can work more effectively.
The government plays a central role in catalyzing strategic climate-resilient actions, particularly in harnessing private sector engagement. While the public sector takes most of the responsibility to drive climate change solutions, it has become increasingly clear that the private sector is an essential partner in preparing for and responding to the impacts of this phenomenon. In other words, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are key in building a green and resilient economy. The private sector can contribute not only in bridging the infrastructure gap but also in implementing and innovating climate change solutions that encompass technical and sector-specific expertise, greater levels of financing, and efficiency, making it an indispensable ally.
Efforts toward climate change adaptation and mitigation are crucial, as the Philippines is classified as one of the most vulnerable to the changing climate. Recognizing that the country is also trying to close the infrastructure gap, our efforts and call to action toward this goal to accelerate infrastructure spending must also take into account the need to develop and make these infrastructures climate resilient. This is necessary in order to avoid costly damage to properties and to minimize the potential negative impacts of climate change by making our infrastructure responsive and climate adaptive. To help address this concern, PPPs will be critical. Under a well-designed regulatory environment, PPPs can be one of the most viable options to maximize the innovation and resources of the private sector, while the government orchestrates collective action through programs, projects, and policies.
While investments in urban development are needed to implement climate-resilient infrastructure projects in cities due to population growth and rapid urbanization, a greater focus on rural economic growth and development is also necessary to address the wide disparities across regions. The lack of infrastructure has discouraged investments and led to inefficient public service delivery to communities in these severely lagging areas. These same areas are vulnerable to natural hazards such as extreme weather events, which impede its competitiveness, productivity, and development.
PPPs, therefore, need to be tailored and extended to the local context. As a response, the PPP Center, through its Local PPP Strategy, focuses its support to local governments and other local implementing agencies. The strategy involves the expansion of the pipeline of viable PPP projects and extension of its technical assistance and capacity development support to prepare and deliver PPP projects at the local level. The strategy also incorporates climate-conscious technologies and knowledge in infrastructure projects.
International fund donors also recognized the importance of helping the local governments in their projects relevant to climate change. In fact, the PPP Center received an additional funding of USD 3 million from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) for the existing Asian Development Bank (ADB) Technical Assistance No. 7796-PHI. The additional funding is comprised of USD 2.5 million for Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) and USD 500,000 for capacity building. The UCCRTF funding targets emerging sectors such as urban resilience, renewable energy, water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, open/green spaces, food security, flood control, disaster risk management, and green infrastructure. The PDMF, which is a revolving fund managed by the PPP Center, can now support more projects especially those coming from local government units, state universities and colleges, local government corporations, water districts, and economic zones, among others.
This year, the PDMF supports local-government-led PPP projects, which provide climate-resilient infrastructure to vulnerable communities and mainstream climate resiliency in local PPP projects. This development would further enhance PPPs at the local level, as the PPP Center will continue strengthening the capacities of local governments as well as providing them with technical assistance to include climate change mitigation and adaptation components in their portfolio of PPP projects. In the long run, the development of numerous climate-resilient infrastructures is foreseen to benefit the public.
Although the task at hand of developing and implementing infrastructure projects has become more challenging due to the climate change considerations, the effective cooperation among stakeholders, from the government, the private sector, and down to the general public, can stir up the actions and make the efforts worth pursuing. The efforts of the PPP Center in providing technical assistance, capacity building services, in-house project development support, as well as making the PDMF more accessible, can jumpstart the process in responding to the pressing need of our communities at the local level to develop their climate-resilient and sustainable projects. These efforts, complemented with the private sector innovation as well as support of other stakeholders, can help reach the global goal of developing a quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure, while supporting the country’s economic development.
Atty. Maria Lerma L. Advincula
Project Development Service