More and more Philippine conglomerates are supporting the United Nations’ agenda for sustainable development.
Big Philippine companies are now aggressively laying down their plans on sustainable development to improve human lives and protect the environment, after over three decades when more than 178 nations congregated in June 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to ensure all human beings enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
“The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible,” declares the UN.
The same 2030 agenda calls for sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices that increase output, help maintain ecosystems, strengthen the capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and progressively improve land and soil quality.
For starters, San Miguel Corp. is leading the clean-up of major river systems in and around Metro Manila. The conglomerate reported that its job on the 15-kilometer San Juan River, a main tributary of the Pasig River, was well underway, with over 90,000 metric tons of silt and solid waste already extracted.
The project, according to San Miguel president and chief executive officer Ramon S. Ang, is part of the firm’s much larger Pasig River cleanup initiative that has successfully removed waste choking different sections of the river. The waterway spans the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, San Juan and Quezon City.
San Miguel’s initiative has resulted to better flood mitigation in flood-prone areas in Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan.
San Miguel’s quest for a greener Philippines is embodied in its ambitious airport project in Bulacan province. It released last year a conceptual master plan for the massive, green-designed and future-ready aerocity development.
Ang said the designs reflect the vision of a modern Philippine city that provides built-in solutions to various socio-economic, environmental, and climate issues, and correct the mistakes seen in many urban developments of Metro Manila.
The SMC chief executive said the Aerocity development would address many of the problems experienced in Metro Manila today.
It is designed, and will be built, with sustainability in mind. It will be properly zoned, with areas dedicated to agriculture and food production, logistics, health and wellness, aeronautics, finance, science and technology, commerce, residences, education, tourism, entertainment, recreation and government.
It will utilize renewable energy and accommodate both traditional and alternative modes of transportation, as well as promote active and healthier lifestyles, Ang added.
The airport city design will adopt green architectural and green urbanism guidelines over and above the country’s building and zoning codes, and follow structural codes of other countries similarly situated in earthquake zones like the Philippines.
It will feature easily accessible public transport systems, including mass transit systems, bicycle highways, as well as a waterfront area with landscaped walkways and promenades.
An agriculture-independent Philippines is the noble objective of conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. The country’s leading infrastructure investments company, through wholly-owned unit Metro Pacific Agro Ventures Inc., has launched The Vegetable Greenhouse Project, a 22-hectare property that houses a complex of modern greenhouses in San Rafael, Bulacan province.
It will be the biggest vegetable greenhouse facility in the country that will produce high-quality vegetables all year round.
“The vision behind these investments is an agriculturally independent Philippines,” says MPIC chairman, president,and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan. “We want to help build a nation that’s capable of feeding all of its people.”
The modern greenhouses will use less water and land. And with controlled farming conditions, crop cycles are shorter and can be done year-round.
“Growing our own produce is a step in developing our country’s capability in terms of food sustainability,” says MPAV president and CEO Jovy I. Hernandez.
The greenhouse project will supply high quality produce, reaching more Filipino homes with better quality vegetables.
MPIC is looking for other opportunities in the agricultural sector, while aiming to achieve a wider presence in the dairy industry. This venture in agribusiness affirms MPIC’s resolve to be the largest catalyst for a Sustainable Philippines to achieve food security and, ultimately, food independence.
Universal Robina Corp. of the Gokongwei Group, one of the Philippines’ largest food and beverage companies, has set more ambitious goals for its human resources, operations, products and processes, as it releases its latest Sustainability Report.
The company plans to reduce the amount of energy and water it uses to manufacture its products by 30 per cent against its 2020 baseline, as well as promote responsible sourcing of key ingredients, like palm oil, potatoes and coffee beans.
It also aims to achieve plastic neutrality through plastic waste collection, recovery and diversion initiatives, as well as collaborative projects on waste management that include community engagement and linking with local recyclers.
URC is looking at multi-stakeholder partnerships to tackle the immense plastics challenge. It has recently been named as regional co-chair for the Alliance to End the Plastics Waste, an industry-founded non-profit organization, which promotes solutions that reduce and avoid environmental pollution from plastic waste.
URC has managed to save over 11 million cubic meters of water since 2018 through various water conservation initiatives integral to its corporate social responsibility.
“We recognize that water is a non-renewable resource, and that it is an essential input material in the production of our products,” said URC chief executive officer Irwin Lee.
Lee said URC had saved enough water over the past four years to fill 4,600 Olympic-size swimming pools. The company in 2021 managed to recycle over 860,000 cu m., enough to cover the water needs of 2.26 million people for a day. Ray S. Eñano