Sustainable development and climate change

>> Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ike Señeres

The Philippine Sustainable Development Council (PCSD) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) are two separate government agencies. The PCSD is under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) while the CCC is under the Office of the President (OP).
Knowing how it is in the government, they would have their own turfs, and they would have their own reporting lines, if you know what I mean. Under normal circumstances, that should not be a problem, because the President of the Philippines who is on top of the OP is also the Chairman of the NEDA. Besides, there is still the Cabinet where all line agencies could meet and thresh out agenda items, depending on the level of priority.
 Although the PCSD and the CCC are two separate agencies and they each have their own corporate purposes, it is also a well known fact that climate change has directly something to do with sustainable development, not unless you are one of those who denies the existence of the former, or one of those who does not give a damn about the latter.
If you ask me however, I will even tell you that vice versa, sustainable development has directly something to do with climate change, not unless you are one of those who could not tell the difference between progress and development, or whose idea of climate change is going through spring and summer, or changing from sunny to rainy weather.
 I am sure that there are many direct correlations between sustainable development and climate change and vice versa, but the most obvious I think is that the negative effects of climate change could hamper or prevent sustainable development. Conversely, the gains of development could be destroyed by climate change, to the extent that these would no longer be sustainable.
Just for the record however, I would like to make it clear that as of the year 2015 or thereabouts, the scope of sustainable development is no longer limited to the environment. 2015 was the year when the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched, wherein the scope was expanded beyond the environment.
It is important to understand that climate change is the result of a cause and effect relationship, meaning to say that climate change is the effect of many factors that cause the change to happen. Many say that climate change is no longer preventable because it will happen anyway no matter what we do, and the only thing that we could really do is to lessen the causes so that the climate change that would happen would not be so severe, in other words its effects would be lessened.
Well, this is not really a damn if you do, damn if you don’t situation, because we have the chance to be less damned, if we do more to prevent the worsening of climate change.
Out of the 17 SDGs, only four could be considered as environment related, and these are Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Climate Action (Goal 13), Life below Water (Goal 14) and Life on Land (Goal 15). While it is generally understood that the attainment of the 17 SDGs is directly under the responsibility of the NEDA and or the PCSD, only one of these goals, namely Climate Action could be said to be the direct responsibility of the CCC.
That however is debatable, because there are many other SDGs that are within the purview of the CCC, either directly or indirectly. Examples of these are Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7), Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11) and Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12).
2015 was also the year when the time frame for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ended, the 8 goals that started in the year 2000. Fifteen years after it started, and when it ended in 2015, it was clear that the Philippines failed to meet most of the goals, never mind the numbers.
What is important to know is that the Philippines is a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations, being actually one of its founders and therefore we should really take these goals seriously. Having learned our lessons from what did not happen in the case of the MDGs, we should now rally the nation so that on or before the year 2030, we would already meet all of the SDGs and not just some, mind you.
It is good to note that the present Administration has revived the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). Perhaps not by coincidence, the NEDA is also the Secretariat of the LEDAC, in much the same way as it is the Secretariat of the PCSD.
Even if it could possibly happen that these two Secretariats would have their own turfs within the same organization, we could still hope that the Director General of the NEDA would do something to harmonize the two. The next time that the LEDAC meets, they could hopefully discuss the re-composition of the PCSD, because it should now include other members that are not just environment related.
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