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GIL H. A SANTOS

GIL H. A SANTOS

Reviewing our Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management conferences and focused group discussion notes revealed some very serious concerns we, as a people of a sovereign state and member of the world community, must act upon now. One of these issues is what is already generally known by the United Nations agencies’ data: by 2050 the world’s population will be approximately 10.9 billion. That is just in the next 34 years.

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We Filipinos will be about 150 million by then.

Because all world problems—including world wars and smaller ones, plus environmental deterioration—and their solutions depend on the peoples’ actions and reactions, the immediate question is: How will sovereign States react when the demographic pressure gets heavy?

Certainly three major problems must be immediately addressed: 1) food and water security for the expanding population, 2) scarcity of affordable or cheap clean energy and 3) assurances of sustainable balance between dwindling natural resources and economic development demands.

Efficient implementation of peace and order will immediately and inevitably emerge as these three initial problems crop up, because crimes naturally increase the moment people start to realize the magnitude of food and water shortages.

Our world history shows that humans do not just sit and wait for disasters to annihilate the human races, nor ideological or political conflicts between peoples to deteriorate into violent conflicts. Somehow, and due to their intelligence and innovativeness, solutions are found and peoples recover, then move on toward progress.

Concrete examples of these are the economic conditions preceding the first and second world wars, organizations of the League of Nations at the end of World War I in 1918, and the United Nations Organization and its agencies in 1945 onward. However, it must be remembered that the prevailing conditions before and after these two terribly destructive world wars cannot be compared. While both were driven by economic and geopolitical considerations, the evil intentions of the Axis powers were more ambitious that the German Kaizer’s in 1914. And the economic debacle (the 1929 US recession) and militarization in the late 1930’s was more widespread than it was in the years before 1914.

The United Nations and its agencies have taken the best steps under the circumstances. Decades earlier, it set its eight top goals to improve life on this planet, with 1915 as its timetable to achieve them. However, early last year it revised the plan to adopt 17 goals, and extended the timetable to 2030. Still the top two targets are 1) to end poverty in all its forms, and 2) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, as well as promote sustainable agriculture.

For the Asean 10, and the Philippines in particular, this demographic data should serve as an opportunity to improve the lives of an estimated 800 million in the region and provide manufactured food for the world.

Not too many people realize the Philippines’ 7,100 islands are sitting on the apex of the Coral Triangle, with its base on Indonesia’s Java Island just below the equator to the south, extending to Papua New Guinea to the east, and to the northern tip of Sumatra island to the west. It is larger than the Coral Sea but it occupies only 3 percent of the whole world map. However, by the Asean Center for Biodiversity’s figures, the biodiversity of this area is about 20 percent of the world’s total. It has more than 3,500 marine lives (aquatic plants or seaweeds included) and still counting.

Fish farming is the sunrise industry for Asean member nations, with all their extensive individual sea frontages, inland waters and fresh water lakes.

The Tubattaha Reef in the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea reefs are breeding grounds for the world’s schools of tuna that circle the Pacific rim of fire perpetually. They return to their birthplaces when they lay their eggs. Their existence provide tuna meat and fish protein for the world.

The deteriorated mangrove forests of the Philippine and Indonesian archipelagos provide farmed or cultured shrimps, milkfish, carps and crustaceans for dinner tables worldwide. Philippine seaweed supplies fill up 40 percent of the world’s demand mostly as capsules of medical products, source of iodine and food binders.

The Asean countries are highly mineralized and are rich in fossil fuel, iron, copper, gold, platinum, nickel, and other non-fuel minerals like potash, which are all in demand for industrialization. These countries are in the tropics where sunlight, wind, waterfalls and geothermal resources are abundant for clean energy.

The McKinsey Global Institute, with its senior partners from Houston, San Francisco and Shanghai, recently said in a quarterly report that “the resource revolution that emerged, stealthily, during the supercycle will undoubtedly bring with it some cruelty and dislocation.

To some extent this is already happening…. On the positive side, the more efficient and thoughtful use of resources could be good for the global environment—and very good for innovative corporate leaders who accept the reality of this revolution and seize the opportunities it will unleash. The new watchword for all, literally, is to be more resourceful.”

In fact, it is not presumptuous to suggest that this is the time for President Rodrigo Duterte—while his political stock is high with the Asean leaders—to take the strategic steps to effectively lead the push for a truly economically integrated Southeast Asian States as a common supplier of food and industrial materials to the developed areas of the world like Europe, Russia China, the North American continents, and the tiger economies of Northeast Asia and South Asia.

(Send your reactions and comments to gilshj99ph@yahoo.com or opinion@manilatimes.net)

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