Church and civil society organizations on February 7 have called on election aspirants to introduce a much ambitious environmental agenda and greener economic policies.
In a virtual briefing, the groups said political agendas “must account for the high dependence of people and economy on nature, with balanced, just, inclusive, and ecologically-sound approaches to achieving prosperity, planetary, and people’s health.”
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, vice-chairperson of Caritas Philippines, said the public and politicians “can no longer pretend that we still have plenty of time to dilly-dally in changing our polluting ways of life.”
The prelate said the country cannot “hide behind excuses of economic development to justify environmental destruction and sacrifice the well-being of communities and ecosystems.”
Bishop Alminaza said the climate crisis, the degradation of our environment, and the plight of peoples vulnerable should be “the front and center issues” of the May 2022 elections.
He said the call for a people-centered leadership that responds to the Cry of the Earth is “a long and arduous journey, adding that it will not end on the election day.
“[It will] continue as our unity in these demands remain critical in sustaining action for our environment and people,” he said.
In a statement, the groups recommended 20 policies that include “strategic climate action, transition to renewable energy and phaseout of coal by 2030, protection territory and marine ecosystem in the West Philippine Sea, and a shift away from extractivist economy.”
“These demand a pursuit on a just transition to an economy dominated by more sustainable technologies and cultures, such as renewable energy, alternatives to plastics, and a zero-waste lifestyle; build adequate and green infrastructure for public transport and other non-motorized modes of traveling,” the statement read.
The groups also urged candidates to include the declaration of climate emergency in their agendas, adding that they want “a vision of transformative actions” to avoid the tragedies millions of Filipinos endured and suffered from typhoons, droughts, and other climate-related hazards.
Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said the polls must provide Filipinos an “opportunity to install leaders” who will pursue “holistic and sustainable solutions, not band-aid schemes.”
Yolanda Esguerra of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. said poll candidates must also champion the recognition of the rights of nature.
“We can’t continue to live like nature is infinite. We need to transition to a more organic and circular economic system… Only when we can change our relationship with nature can we effect real change in social systems,” she said.
Rodne Galicha of Living Laudato Si Philippines said the demand for a greener agenda “will settle for no less than what is just, compassionate, and economic growth to prioritize the reparation of the climate impacts and development of the marginalized communities.”