27 June 2017 | Manila, Philippines

Distinguished delegates from the ASEAN member countries; representatives from ASEAN’s development and dialogue partners from South Korea, Australia and China; DENR delegation; representatives from the national organizing committee under the office of the president; friends, ladies and gentlemen; Good Morning!

Consistent with the celebration of the ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary and with the Philippines as this year’s chair, convening research and development practitioners from different research institutions, academe and private business groups from ASEAN member countries in a forum on “sustainable urbanization in the course of ASEAN economic integration” is indeed timely and appropriate.

Research shows that urbanization is the major driver of world’s changing climate brought about by global warming. City dwellers worldwide consume 72% of energy from fossil fuels and contribute  to  emission  of 80%  of greenhouse  gases (ghg).   unsustainable practices in urban areas push the earth beyond its ecological threshold such as change in land use, which leads to land degradation and biodiversity loss (rockstrom et.al 2009).

According to Mckinley report (2015), cities and other urbanizing areas in southeast Asia have urban “consuming class” of approximately 81 million households,  that  is  likely  to  double  in  size  to  163 million households by 2030. This has implication of raising the city-based demand for consumable goods and services and demand for developed land for residential, commercial, institutional, and other public use, which could result to irreversible change in land use. The end result is an enormous increase in greenhouse gas emissions that further exacerbate climate change and its worldwide impacts.

ASEAN mega-cities and other urbanizing areas play critical roles in the unfolding of ASEAN economic community (AEC). This conference, attended by delegates from ASEAN member countries and from ASEAN’s development partners who are R and D practitioners is therefore  crucial. This would create an avenue for exchange of information as well as for collaboration in exploring ways for developing mechanisms and safeguards to achieve sustainable urbanization in ASEAN economic community.

This  being  said,  ASEAN  megacities  such  as Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bandar Seri  Begawan  and  Manila  and  other  highly urbanized cities in Vietnam, LAO P.D.R., Myanmar and Cambodia  should  collectively  and  proactively work together to make urbanization as environmentally sustainable as possible. Any of their innovative solutions should come out from partnerships with the government, academe, socio- civic  organizations, and private business groups. And, we all know that this is a big challenge to all ASEAN member countries.

Policy and decision-makers rely on the technologies generated through science-based research for their course of action and innovative solutions. This was the basis of the 25 rapidly growing cities in southeast Asia when they came up with the ASEAN initiatives for Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESCs). Specifically, the ESC prioritizes  low-carbon  technologies  and encourages city dwellers, industrialists and commercial establishments to strive for carbon- neutral economy. ESC also promotes the judicious use of natural resources and utilization of wastes into energy.

I understand that urban biodiversity conservation and green technology for resilient cities and inclusive economic growth are among the conference topics. I want you to know that the Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, espouses such approaches to sustainable urbanization, and I encourage everyone present here today to reconcile all efforts to make such strategies effective and fruitful.

I call on everyone to protect the environment while we strive to strengthen the economic capacity of our region. let us be stewards of our natural resources and work on sustainable urbanization.

Before I end, let me thank the ecosystems research and development bureau of the DENR, headed by Director Henry A. Adornado for organizing this conference. Truly, one ASEAN is so much felt today, as the delegates from the ASEAN member countries come to share information on how to achieve sustainable urbanization.

Thank You and Mabuhay!

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