I remember how I was part of an international panel focused on consultations regarding the green economy in 2012. This was at the Hague, Netherlands under a UN Rio+20 business consultative meeting. The discussion was centered on the urgent need to move businesses forward towards a green economy. The root of the discussions was all about the need for innovation in all institutional frameworks, and some small best case studies were being shared. For Asia, I spoke on ECHOstore and how we were trying to green our own little value chain. Three years after, from that big group, it’s just nice to see how this green economy discussion has actually began to take form institutionally in our country.
ProGED or the Promotions of Green Economic Development is a German government cooperation program (through the GIZ) has had a significant partnership with the Philippine government. The focus: Green, green, green growth! And to influence MSMEs and government institutions that focus on economic development to implement environment friendly, climate smart and inclusive strategies.
ProGED has been promoting the green economic strategy alongside the DTI’s MSME Development Plan starting in 2011 and ending by 2016. The four pillars on which the development directions are taking include MITIGATION (or the need to reduce greenhouse effects), ADAPTATION (or how businesses and individuals adjust to severe weather conditions), COMPETITIVENESS (improving this through sustainable business strategies) and GREEN JOBS (market potential, news products and services).
Interventions are actually from all levels – national or macro level (policy, incentives), meso level – re-orienting business strategies and models towards going green, and micro level – pushing for competitiveness of companies for their resources and conservation measures, use of renewable energies, and the push towards more sustainable consumptions and lifestyles. Today, companies are increasingly aware of the fact that long term competitiveness depends on the ecological sustainability of their entire supply chain. Many larger companies have started initiatives to assist their smaller suppliers to become greener. So much work has also been put into making MSMEs and LGUs be informed with smart technologies, green service providers, access to green finance and green tourism standards.
I was invited to speak in their Cebu planning meeting with all the regional heads of the DTI. I agreed to fly to Cebu also because I wanted to meet up and check out the new ECHOstore now open in Banilad Town Center in Cebu City with our licensees Johann and Meyan Young. Meyan was multi-tasking as a new mom while preparing all operational details of their coming store. Johann, a Chef, meanwhile was being kept busy with the construction using recyclable materials for the store’s interiors, green lighting fixtures, inverter aircons, plus expanding his green and organic suppliers and producers from around Cebu. So my talk was actually about sharing our best examples of our own value chain.
As I mentioned in my talk about “green markets opportunities”, I likened ECHOstore as our seed. And as planters, tend to this seed which is all about green and sustainable living and even practices when it comes to our products value chain.
Every time we set up an ECHOstore, the surrounding community is made aware of green living… and our partner licensees become like our farmers who till that specific farm which plants and grows conscious consumerism, locavorism, organic and natural foods, healthy lifestyle, slow food movement, the value of artisan crafts. Wherever an ECHOstore sprouts up, we create a community of producers, suppliers and customers who think and live green. In other words, we green our value chain, our market included…which is what ProGED wanted us to share with the planning group of the DTI regional heads from all over the country. Green markets bring the whole community participation towards sustainable practices: shoppers, farmers, vendors, food producers, chefs, artisan and designers etc. The value-chain process itself requires a re-engineering of all materials, processes, procedures, manufacturing, purchasing and procurement with an eye to sustainability.
By being aware of social enterprises like ours (and there are a number of us sprouting around too), then we can all begin to green the country and bring sustainable consumption, demands and lifestyles to much higher levels.
Cebu is one of the metropolis that is still far from thinking green consciously per the feedback we got in that conference. And that is why ProGED started the initial projects in Cebu (West Gorordo, Mayflower Inn and Elicon Hotel) and Bohol (Amarela Resort in Panglao Island and the Bohol Bee Farm) and as these were areas where tourism plays a major role. In these two places, the tourism industry sector has a very high potential for investment, employment and poverty reduction through the value-chain approach that touches MSMEs. The sector also has many other climate change relevant industries such as food processing, furniture, souvenir items, wholesale retail and transportation. Resorts, hotels and restaurants are challenged to develop ecotourism products, reduce waste generation and water consumption.