Invest with impact

POINT OF VIEW - Janda Campos - The Philippine Star

The ongoing climate emergency still prevails, and climate change can no longer be dismissed as a remote threat. In the recent report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading climate scientists have made it clear that minor, reactive or incremental changes are no longer sufficient to tackle the climate emergency.

In addition, Kaveh Zahedi, deputy executive secretary at UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), recently noted that Asia Pacific is not on track to achieving any of its sustainability targets by 2030, citing the pandemic having an impact on progress in many areas.

Closer to home, the Philippines is not insulated from the impact of climate change. Damaging weather patterns in the form of typhoons and storms in the Philippines have become increasingly intense and unpredictable, with Typhoon Rai (Odette) wreaking havoc across the country last year.

In light of this critical situation, this year’s Earth Day (April 22) theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” which focuses on the importance of taking action and how individuals and organizations can make a difference.

A green future is a prosperous future, and this is why governments, industry and individuals need to work together to achieve sustainable solutions for climate change and pollution. As we reflect on this year’s Earth Day, companies of all sizes need to take action and embrace the benefits of a green economy, and for business leaders to get on board with a sustainable future approach.

Invest in resource efficiency

One of the most crucial areas to address is tackling our energy and water efficiencies, both of which are core to the functioning of industries, municipalities and buildings. In our increasingly industrialized and populated world, our water and energy usage continue to skyrocket, amidst our limited resources.

While the Philippines has taken important steps towards resource efficiency as part of its broader sustainability efforts, one of the ways businesses can reduce their energy and water consumption is by implementing intelligent, resource-efficient technologies.

With energy, businesses can look to utilize smart technology that regulates supply with demand. Notably, conventional cooling in buildings can be energy intensive, given the need to move large amounts of water constantly. Intelligent technology today can now intuitively adjust chilled water flow to meet changing cooling demands, ensuring efficient energy use without compromising performance.

Meanwhile, water efficiency can be achieved through improving infrastructure to reduce water loss during the distribution process. A World Bank study puts the global estimate of physical water losses at 32 billion cubic meters each year. Today’s smart water management systems can now automatically adjust water flow through the use of remote sensors. As this reduces excessive pressure in water pipes, the risk of water leakages is minimized, and in turn mitigating any unnecessary water losses.

Invest in a circular economy

Going beyond resource efficiency, companies also need to look at embedding circular principles throughout their business. Circularity focuses on designing waste out of the resource ecosystem and maximizing the value of resources by keeping them in use for as long as possible. Currently, the global supply chain is still driven by the linear economy, where raw materials are processed, used and then discarded as waste.

However, a linear approach is not sustainable in the long run. If we continue on this path, by 2050, global demand for resources will almost triple to 130 billion tons annually, which would overuse the Earth’s capacity by over four-fold. Meanwhile, a circular economy greatly reduces our impact on the environment, with experts noting that its potential of reducing 40 percent of global carbon emissions.

While the Philippines does not have an integrated circular economy strategy or policy framework in place at the moment, a number of national policies and initiatives link directly and indirectly to circular economy approaches in a number of different industry sectors, including food processing, building and construction.

Water reuse is also a big part of circularity – by ensuring wastewater is effectively treated to a quality that makes it possible to feed back into our water cycles, it allows water to be saved in a time of scarcity. Water treatment solutions now are capable of empowering companies to reuse their wastewater, reduce costs and do their part to ensure that our natural water sources are not unnecessarily exploited.

Invest in greater water access

Last but not least, it is important to invest towards innovation and partnerships that can help people in poor areas and remote communities have better access to clean water. Key sectors like agriculture, industry and services rely heavily on water, which means improved water access and management can contribute substantially to economic growth.

In the Philippines, while majority of the population have at least basic water services, access is highly inequitable across the Philippines, with regional basic water services access going as low as 62 percent. Around 99 percent of the one-fifth wealthiest households are more likely to have access to basic water services, while only 80 percent of the poorest quintile do.

Businesses should also play a role given their industry expertise, resources and network. For example, together with World Vision, Water Mission and International Committee of the Red Cross, Grundfos SafeWater reached 1.6 million people in 2021. This establishes a cumulative result of 2.5 million people reached in 2020-2021.

While a timely reminder, we need to recognize that climate action is not something we just consider on Earth Day; climate action is a year-round effort. It is crucial that we collectively work together to effectively tackle climate change. To create meaningful and effective change, all of us – from governments to businesses to individuals – have a role to play.

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Janda Campos is Senior Director of Group Sustainability at Grundfos.


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