‘Act on climate resilience strategies’

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    There is an urgent need to act on climate-resilient and adaptation strategies, with the same sense of urgency that we have for the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said at yesterday’s online event organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

    Dominguez said the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines has inspired market optimism, thus there is a sense that the worst is over and economies can be fully functional in a matter of months.

    “The availability of vaccines, however, should not lead us to neglect equally urgent concerns. We still need to do the tough things we must undertake to cope with the severe weather conditions induced by global warming or with the possible emergence of new viruses,” Dominguez said in his keynote address at the opening plenary of the ADB-hosted Southeast Asia Development Symposium.

    “We also want to ensure the sustainable growth of our country over the long term by adopting climate-resilient and adaptation strategies. Unlike COVID-19, for which vaccines have been produced in a matter of months, there is no quick solution for climate change,” he added.

    Dominguez said the Philippine government will jumpstart its fight against climate change by pushing for the passage of a bill that would ban single-use plastics.

    “The Philippines is ranked as the world’s third-biggest plastics polluter in the oceans. The move to curb single-use plastics will not only be a crucial component to effective solid waste management and climate change action, but it will also encourage all Filipinos to do their part to help save our environment on a daily basis,” Dominguez said.

    “Once passed, every single Filipino, by not consuming plastic, is contributing to the fight against climate change,” he added.

    In the same speech, he said the government’s steadfast resolve to undertake further reforms to rebuild a strong and inclusive economy, and set the stage for a “sustainable, greener and healthier future” for Filipinos, will enable the Philippines to thrive in the post-pandemic era.

    Dominguez said among these reforms are improvements in the country’s information and communications technology infrastructure to expand the use of digital tools, enhance revenue collection performance and achieve greater financial inclusion for Filipinos.

    The government should also pursue sustainable policies targeted towards bolstering the healthcare system and keeping a strong fiscal position to withstand future adversities, he added.

    Dominguez underscored the need to intensify global collaboration and redefine the challenges that confront the world today as it reemerges from a debilitating COVID-19 pandemic, so that countries can be better prepared to deal with future outbreaks.

    On the part of the Philippines, Dominguez expressed confidence in its capability to emerge stronger from the pandemic.

    “We are very optimistic about the near future. That optimism is based on our willingness to undertake the reforms necessary to rebuild a strong and inclusive economy that thrives in the 21st century,” Dominguez said.

    As the Philippines begins to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Dominguez said the government will remain focused on reforms to foster the revival of enterprises and restore consumer activity.

    “We also aim to take full advantage of the demographic sweet spot the Philippines enjoys.

    A much younger population profile means we will have the workforce ready for rapid growth. We have invested heavily in our human capital and hope to reap the rewards further down the road,” he added.