How can Individuals contribute to UN SDGs
Switch off lights? Recycle wastes? Donate things? Join charitable activities? These are clichés on how to “make the world a better place” but, these are simple acts an individual can do to contribute to the Global Goals.
The United Nations (UN) created the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of solving issues that affect everything and everyone around the globe1. Various organizations have acted against issues by measuring how they affect people, planet, and profit. For an individual, there is no need for such formalities. If a person cares for the others and for its surroundings, that leads him/her to leave no one behind.
Caring for someone or something is what drives a person to contribute. If one sees someone hungry, s/he gives food to that person. If one thinks of removing plastics in the ocean, s/he uses reusable containers, bags, or cups anywhere s/he goes. There are countless ways to contribute to the SDGs.
No impact is too big nor too small. If the 7.7 billion people2 in the world act towards sustainable development, the collective efforts of humanity can help restore the healthy balance of people, planet, and profit.
2 As of July 2020. This is according to the World Population Review with estimates based on the UN data. For more information, access https://worldpopulationreview.com/.
Climate Change and its impact to the Philippines
Climate change: the greatest global risk
Climate change, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is the long-term change in the usual weather patterns that have shaped the climates at the local, regional and global levels. Recent trends in climate change are mostly influenced by human activities – the most suspect of which is the high use of fossil fuels for burning – that causes global warming.
What was once considered a very long-term risk, climate-related risks are now considered by the World Economic Forum in 2020 as the highest set of risks in the world today, both in impact and likelihood. Failure to address this problem in the next 10 years will lead to other crises that will impact the health and safety of everyone.
In addition, according to the Climate Risk Index 2020 Report by Germanwatch, the Philippines is the second-most vulnerable to climate-related risks based on their assessment in 2018, right below Japan.
Physical Climate Risks in the Philippines: Projected Trends
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in 2018 made predictions based on established climate change scenarios.
Based on a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, average temperatures would rise nationwide between 1.2°C and 2.3°C from 2036-2065, and between 2.5°C and 4.1°C from 2070-2099. These are based on temperature figures observed up to 2015.
Rainfall and Typhoons
Using the BAU scenario, rainfall is predicted to increase and decrease by as much as 40% between 2036-2065 based on observed trends up to 2000. This means that rainfall would significantly vary in the future, causing extreme rains and extreme droughts. In addition, predictions are stating that the number of typhoons will decrease between 2036-2065. However, stronger typhooons, or ones with winds exceeding 170 kph, are expected.
Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise, using the BAU scenario, is predicting a sea level rise for up to more than one meter in some low-lying coastal locations in the country in 2050, based on models from Climate Central in 2019. Places in red in maps shown below mean that these areas would be below sea level in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Other Climate Change Impacts in the Philippines: Projected Trends
The Philippine Climate Change Commission (CCC), citing reports from international and local agencies, conclude that transition and other environmental risks that will greatly impact Philippine economy and society up to 2100.
The Philippines could experience up to 6% in gross domestic product (GDP) loss by 2100 in a BAU scenario. However, if investments on climate change adaptation and mitigation would be increased, it could avoid these losses.
If climate change continues using the BAU scenario, an estimated 98% of coral reefs in Southeast Asia could die in 2050, and be fully extinct by 2100. This means that fish catches in the Philippines could be reduced by as much as 50%.
Water Scarcity and Productivity
Water scarcity, due to high variations in rainfall, drought, and typhoons, is predicted to hit the agriculture and industry sectors that comprise about 9% and 30% of the country’s GDP respectively. This would also hit labor productivity, as estimates by the ILO in 2019 predicted that the Philippines could lose as much as 2% overall with around 6% in agricultural labor productivity and around 7% in construction labor productivity.
With the increased intensity of typhoons and increased variation of rainfall and floods, the Philippines is predicted to have an increase in disease cases such as dengue, malaria, cholera, typhoid, and even the common cold, flu and cases like COVID-19. More women than men, and more children are also highly susceptible to health risks due to climate-related activities.
What can companies do to help adapt and mitigate climate change
Look into environmental and social sustainability initiatives
Companies can do their part in looking into activities, programs and initiatives in sustainability measures, including environmental and social sustainability initiatives. Measures such as Emissions and energy management, water use, waste management, employee diversity, and employee and customer health and safety initiatives, could not only save money for the company, but also contribute to decreases in climate change risks.
Align initiatives with the 1.5°C or 2°C climate change scenarios
Companies can align their sustainability initiatives with climate change scenarios ensuring a global reduction of temperatures above 1.5°C and 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels formulated by international agencies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Communicate sustainability initiatives to stakeholders
Companies could share their sustainability initiatives to their stakeholders, as they may be directly impacted by the changes that are to be made. Stakeholders would also be a great source of feedback and knowledge in improving these measures.
GCSS helps companies in navigating through their climate change and sustainability measures through sustainability reporting and training, using international frameworks.
Sustainability Reporting from the Perspective of First-Time Companies
Sustainability reporting can be overwhelming, especially for companies who are new and unfamiliar to the process. Unlike a traditional financial report that looks into past performance, sustainability reports focus on accomplishments in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects and ideally present strategies and improvements planned for future implementation1 .
According to UNEP, sustainability reporting is an essential tool in identifying crucial ESG risks
and building up relationships with all stakeholders2 . Companies that had recently wrote their first sustainability report found that it is also a great avenue to promote their advocacies and
sustainability practices3 . However, the preparation process is a laborious task.
The biggest challenge often comes during the data collection phase in the form of lack of cooperation within the reporting company. The absence of collective efforts and an unforeseen event, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, have made communication between relevant departments nearly impossible3 for first-time companies. Also, it took time to prepare, organize, and validate some data as they are not normally published4.
Nonetheless, sustainability reporting had helped broaden the understanding of first-time companies on the uses and importance of such a reporting system as they examine and comprehend the data that support their performance3 . It also gave their stakeholders an opportunity to monitor their environmental and social impacts, which can be used as valuable basis in decision-making4 .
1”Sustainability reporting – a perspective from the private sector” by Laura Kreiling: https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/socialeconomy/library-and-resources/sustainability-reporting-/
2Frequently Asked Questions on Corporate Sustainability Reporting” by the United Nations Environment Programme: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/26171/FAQ_Corporate_Sustainability.pdf?seque nce=1&isAllowed=y
3Apex Mining Corporation Incorporated