Legarda calls for sustainable consumption and production during and beyond COVID-19 pandemic

October 26, 2020

MANILA, 26 October 2020 — In observance of the Philippine Consumer Welfare Month, House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda urged the public to embrace and adopt the principles of sustainable consumption and production, and climate resilience, during the Consumer Congress 2020 organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and held on 23 October 2020 via Zoom.

With the theme, “Sustainable Consumer in the New Normal,” Legarda discussed the link between the country’s sustainable production and consumption habits on environment, health, and climate change.

Citing recent reports and studies on food security in the Philippines, Legarda stressed the challenges and opportunities COVID-19 has presented in terms of food security and sustainable production and consumption.

“What I would like to emphasize is that, although COVID-19 has drastically disrupted our very systems and economy, we also need to acknowledge the opportunity for us to rethink our very approach to development and recover from the pandemic better and more sustainable than before,” said Legarda

Legarda also noted that ensuring the resilience of our communities to threats like COVID-19 and climate change also entails ensuring the resilience of our food systems.

“When we talk about sustainable consumption and production, we need to talk about resilience. We need to discuss how we could make our food systems inclusive and resilient, not just from the threats brought by this pandemic but also from the dangers of climate impacts,” Legarda added.

As the principal author or co-author, or sponsor, of landmark environmental pieces of legislation, such as the Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act, Biofuels Act, Renewable Energy Act, Environmental Education and Awareness Act, Climate Change Act and People’s Survival Fund Law, Legarda said that a law on sustainable consumption and production should also be enacted.

“I filed House Bill No. 7609 or the “Philippine Circular Economy Bill,” which aims to promote a circular economy and a whole-of-nation transition to a sustainable future. I filed this with the intention of advancing the principles and strategies on circular economy and sustainable consumption and production to serve as guideposts for decision-makers,” Legarda added.

According to Legarda, HB 7609 seeks the adoption of product and services standards aligned with circular economy principles and the phasing out of single-use plastics by all business enterprises three years after the bill takes effect. A phase-out and transition plan shall be formulated within one year, which will be led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

A comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) program shall also be designed to ensure that the processes within the life cycle of goods, products, and the services circulating in the market are ecologically responsive. This entails extensive research and development; formulation of regulatory mechanism; establishment of thresholds; creation of LCA laboratories; and provision of incentives for businesses conducting LCA within their operations.

The bill also urges all government entities to establish their respective Circular Public Procurement Programs, which shall take into account circular economy standards, as well as integrate permaculture principles and practices in their respective programs, services, projects, and operations. An incentives and rewards system shall also be constituted by the Department of Budget and Management.

In support of the bill, Legarda will provide assistance to the DTI in mainstreaming sustainable consumption advocacy and consumer education through crafting of information, education and communication materials (IECs) to be translated in different languages and disseminated both through traditional and social media platforms, and will build awareness through workshops or seminars to barangays.

Moreover, she called on the Climate Change Commission, League of Barangays, and civil society organizations such as the Mother Earth Foundation, ICSC, Climate Reality PH to provide assistance to the Micro-, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in operationalizing adaptation and resilience through integrating sustainable consumption in their daily processes and activities.

Aside from the said legislation, Legarda urged the citizens and leaders of the organizations and communities to start embracing the principles of sustainability and climate resilience not just through one’s personal lifestyle but in the household or the community level – which defines a “sustainable consumer.”

“For me, it is about leading a lifestyle that generates as little waste as possible. I grow my own food, so I could limit buying groceries and avoid patronizing the hyper-consumerist model that we have right now. I compost my food scraps to serve as fertilizers for my plants and herbs. I implement my own law on proper waste management by segregating at source and recycling and upcycling those that I can in order to limit or even have zero waste. Households can help by consuming less, and recycling and upcycling more. This would really require a change in our mindset,” Legarda added.

Legarda also stressed that local government units (LGUs) responsible for the collection and disposal of solid waste material generally have limited capacity to plan, develop, operate, and maintain sanitary landfills and have difficulty in implementing the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Towards the end, the lawmaker urged national and local leaders to manage waste in a safe, environmentally sound, and cost-effective manner, to mobilize the country’s contribution toward a reduction in the emission of GHGs and its ecological footprint, which already exceeds its national biocapacity.

“The solutions exist, and we know exactly what needs to be done. Let us help bring about the necessary changes in our systems and behavior. Now is the time to collectively act to recover sustainably,” Legarda concluded. ###