Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga has urged the country’s top business leaders to work with government on efforts to address the climate crisis and create sustainable communities.

Speaking at the general membership meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) on June 14 in Taguig City, Loyzaga pointed out that “climate action for resilience is everyone’s business.”

“Our government needs partners who go beyond ESG (environmental, social and governance) and the fencelines of their operations to ensure ecosystem integrity and the resilience of communities that surround their operations,” Loyzaga told an assembly of CEOs, COOs and other top management executives from the largest companies in the Philippines.

The environment chief added that the government also needs “partners who go beyond compliance to achieve strategic shared values, and who are committed within their core business value cycles to going beyond just their specific contributions to GDP.”

MAP is an organization that promotes management excellence for nation-building through the sharing of best management practices among its members, networking with other local and international business organizations, and benchmarking with counterpart organizations in other countries.

Loyzaga was invited to the MAP gathering to discuss the national priorities on the environment, natural resources and climate change, providing an avenue for potential partnerships and collaboration between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the business community.

According to Loyzaga, the Marcos administration’s agenda of “pursuing a green and blue economy and establishing livable and sustainable communities” guides the DENR in fulfilling its mandate of protecting the environment, managing risk, and building resilience in all natural domains.

“Our work covers the air we breathe, all life on land and below water, and all our natural resources. In sum, our priorities are to protect, conserve, restore and regenerate the ecosystems that serve as the life support for all human, social and economic development,” she said.

Loyzaga also called on MAP members to “come forward and do your share” in tackling plastic pollution by committing to the full implementation of Republic Act 11898, or the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) of 2022. “Some of you have already stepped forward and committed to work with us,” she said.

The EPR law serves as the environmental policy approach and practice that requires producers to be environmentally responsible throughout the life cycle of a product, especially its post-consumer or end-of-life stage.

“Among the biggest threats to the environment is our unsustainable consumption and production practices that lead to production of polluting waste. This is where our partnerships would not only be strategic but critical to our survival,” Loyzaga said.

“Confronting the complex roots of the pollution on land, seas and air requires a whole of society effort that will come at a cost but will have far reaching benefits,” she added.

Loyzaga said the EPR law is an opportunity to curb the destruction of ecosystems by setting targets for large enterprises to cover and divert 20 percent of the plastic waste they produce in 2022 by the end of 2023, gradually increasing this by 40 percent by 2024 and setting 10 percent targets until 80 percent can be decreased and reached by 2028 onwards.

The DENR Secretary stressed that investments are needed not just in diversion and collection, but also in research for the substitution of single use plastic.

“Unless there is a product that has the same functionality and affordability as single use plastic, the demand for its use, particularly among communities that can afford no other ways to consume and store will not wane,” she explained.

Loyzaga said the DENR is also looking for partnerships and innovations to combat water and air pollution and is setting targets for expanding its capabilities for observation, monitoring and analytics.

To accelerate the green transition and contribute to the country’s socioeconomic development, Loyzaga said the DENR is pursuing a risk-based approach for sustaining and accelerating economic, social, and environmental gains; and supporting the accounting of natural resources through the Natural Capital Accounting System led by the National Economic Development Authority.

The DENR, she said, has also established and continues to strengthen the National Resources Geospatial Database and is building resilient communities through risk-sensitive and balanced land management and the development of resources along the natural, rural, and urban transect.

At the same time, Loyzaga said the DENR and the Department of Energy have been working together to accelerate the transition to clean energy including updating old guidelines.

Loyzaga also reported that the DENR has engaged with the private sector in co-benefits projects that include afforestation and reforestation for carbon sequestration on land through the voluntary carbon market.

“The priorities I have outlined and the volatility and complexity of our future require us to work together to achieve: coherence in all we do, convergence in what we can do together, and synergy,” Loyzaga said.

“The why behind all we do is what we deliver to our country – when we work together as whole of government and as a whole of society we can then build an inclusive and sustainable Philippines, and that would be the real national dividend,” she concluded. #