The Philippines is hosting an Asean Congress on June 26-30, that will provide a forum for the exchange of information and experiences on sustainable urbanization.
The event is consistent with the celebration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 50th Founding Anniversary with Philippines as the Asean Chair for 2017.
Since Southeast Asia is seen internationally as a high growth area with GDP (gross domestic product) growing at 4.8 percent annually, it is imperative for Asean to balance the tide of urbanization and industrialization against environmental sustainability.
Helping achieve this balance is a major aim of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) thru the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) that is hosting the “R&D Congress on Sustainable Urbanization in the Course of Asean Economic Integration.”
The Congress will be participated by established research and development practitioners from various academic and research institutions in the Asean region who are working on urban ecosystem, environment and natural resources management.
At present, Asean has an urban “consuming class” of approximately 8 million households, according to the 2015 Mckinely Report. Accordingly, it is likely to double in size by 2030.
This has implications to increasing demand for consumable goods and services and for developed land. This will result to irreversible change in land use—leading to serious concerns on food security, biodiversity loss and increase in GHG (green house gas) emissions.
ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado said that ERDB has earlier called for paper submission from the Asean on four research subjects.
These are: Human settlement and rapid urbanization in Asean mega cities; environment protection amidst industrialization for sustainable cities; impact of flow of goods and services; and Asean economic community and urban metabolism and inclusive growth.
These presentations should highlight policies, programs and experiences that may be emulated or replicated among Asean members. With the ongoing economic integration, urban poverty issues and impact to the environment of transboundary trade will be discussed.
“It is believed that sustainable urbanization and economic integration are closely intertwined. With such consideration, policy experts urge the Asean to reconcile its target of establishing an economic integration through the Asean Economic Community with the protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity,” according to ERDB’s Congress primer.
“Urbanization is considered as driver of world’s changing climate caused by global warming. This is particularly crucial in urban communities having economies that are based in high production and consumption consequent to serious environmental and economic issues,” it added.
Focus-Economics noted that Southeast Asia’s regional GDP has grown at around 4.6 percent annually since 2014.