There is an urgent need to develop a new economic model and new technologies to respond to rapid urbanization, high population growth rate and environmental degradation to ensure the Philippines and the rest of the countries in Asia Pacific (Apac) will have a sustainable future, a United Nations official said.
“The current economic model is designed for growth but it’s not inclusive and not environmentally responsible. If we are to continue what we are doing today, we have to change the technology,” Hongjoo Hahm, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), pointed out at a recent news briefing in Makati City. The event was held during the International Conference on Green Technologies for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals organized by the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) of the UN Escap, jointly with the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (Tapi) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Despite the herculean challenge being faced by the Philippines and the rest of Asia Pacific, Hahm said that working with the organizations, such as Tapi and APCTT could make some inroads by sharing best practices and innovations.
Although it is a valid alternative to the current situation, Hongjoo said green economics is viewed as extremely expensive and a barrier to development. Nevertheless, he pointed out that innovations pursued both by business and the government have resulted in lowering the cost of these green products.
He said the development of products, such as air conditioners with inverter and light-emitting diode lamps, is a positive sign as more people can now afford environment-friendly products.
“These processes are good substitutes for brown technology,” he said. In an interview through Facebook Messenger, Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said the term is “not as important as its description.” He said a modern economy that is efficient, sustainable, resilient, inclusive, regenerative and democratic could be classified as pro-people and pro-environment economy.
“This also means it looks at several planning cycles ahead as a means of course setting and course correction, thereby, securing equitable sharing of wealth across generations,” Constantino said.
He added that the production of high-efficiency appliances and, at the same time, making them affordable to more families means that technologies have a huge impact on several levels.
First, he said demand for high-efficiency products is rising, resulting in a positive effect on prices and costs that can motivate engineers and business people to innovate.
He added that it changes the public’s perception in terms of return on investments.
“New high-efficiency products show that what they see on the price tag is not always the most important, if not the only consideration. It changes mindsets. Incandescent bulbs are still the cheapest, yet, why is it no longer the mainstream option?” he pointed out.
Constantino said people’s mind-sets are changing as technologies develop, adding that this is a positive sign because it is not technology that will be the driver but the people themselves.
He said people are gradually understanding the logic and importance of using pro-environment products and technologies.
“Things that we consider cheap are actually far more costly, when they come back in the form of massive floods due to clogged drainage systems,” he said.
Philippines and the APCTT
Michiko Enomoto, head of the APCTT, commended the Philippines for the valuable support it has provided to the UN agency.
To further enhance innovation, Enomoto said the APCTT is employing steps, such as capacity building of governments, developing the skills of people involved in the incubation programs and publication.
She said the APCTT supports capacity building to boost science and technology-innovation policies. “The Apac region is comprised of great innovators in both developed and developing countries. It is a region of diversity. It can facilitate knowledge sharing in science and technology, best practices of research and development and commercialization of technologies in the Philippines and other regions of the Asia Pacific,” she said.
Enomoto said the APCTT also boosts the capabilities of the officers handling the incubation of technology by agencies to help them commercialize the technologies, inventions and innovations.
At the same time, the APCTT helps in the publication of research so it can distribute the knowledge, research and development policies in different areas.
Moreover, she praised the Philippines for being supportive to the APCTT and a major supplier of knowledge in the region.
Philippine Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said: “The DOST has been a firm believer and supporter of technology transfer that the Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009 is actually an initiative of the department [DOST]. Looking back, the republic act helped in pushing the transfer of technologies which has provisions on output of research and development that received funding from the Philippine government.”
For his part, Engineer Edgar Garcia, director of Tapi, said the cooperation between member-countries in the APCTT could benefit the Philippines as it can infuse the innovations in the technologies they recommended.
“Being an implementing agency, Tapi, through the Philippines’s Technology Transfer Act, has been supporting the various platforms of APCTT. In particular, it supported international fora on agricultural enterprises,” he said.
Moreover, Garcia pointed out that the DOST is interested in the exchange of scientists between developed and developing countries. He said the sharing of experiences and knowledge will be beneficial to both parties.
“It is not just scientists from developed countries who can share their knowledge with their counterparts from Third World countries. At the same time, scientists from less developed countries can also share their experiences to the scientists from the First World countries,” he explained.
The conference was attended by delegates from Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Kazakhstan.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza