Plenary Session II – Economic and Trade Matters: Rethinking Critical Infrastructure

November 24, 2023

Plenary Session II – Economic and Trade Matters: Rethinking Critical Infrastructure
24 November 2023

Honorable members of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, distinguished guests, and fellow advocates of sustainable development,

I am deeply honored to address you today at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum. As we delve into the critical realm of Economic and Trade Matters, I wish to draw our collective attention to a matter of profound significance —the precarious state of our ecosystems.

Today, we are not merely advocates; we stand as trustees of a sacred duty, entrusted with the responsibility of legislating for the well-being of our communities. Our task is to craft legislation that not only sets norms but breathes life into the spirit of people’s rights to sustainable development and a better life for all.

In the face of climate change, habitat loss, and pollution, we must rethink our approach to critical infrastructure, emphasizing the blue economy and prioritizing natural resources accounting. It’s essential to recognize that infrastructure extends beyond concrete and steel—it encompasses mobility, shelter, resilience, connectivity, and installations that safeguard health and well- being of the people and planet, for the sustainable physical frameworks for growth and development.

Our goal is clear: infuse meaning and purpose into low-carbon, green, and sustainable facilities that care for both people and the planet. An ecosystem-based approach should be at the core of our legislative endeavors in this thematic area.

To achieve this, we must adopt an innovative approach that values the economic worth of our natural resources. In doing so, we empower ourselves to make informed decisions that strike a delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection—this is science and evidence-based legislation in action.

As we recalibrate our strategies for climate change adaptation, investing in blue carbon initiatives and embracing nature-based solutions are critical steps towards a vibrant and sustainable blue economy. In the Philippines, I proudly champion bills on the Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System and the Blue Economy, recognizing the necessity of enhancing the health and well-being of our marine resources.

The risks associated with climate change are escalating at an unprecedented pace, underscoring the potentially irreversible and disastrous consequences scientists warn in the IPCC reports. Climate action must, therefore, accelerate rapidly to close the emissions gap pursuant to the Paris Agreement, which aims to achieve a net-zero world by 2050 and limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius for the century.

Amidst the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, our increasing vulnerability becomes an opportunity to examine the role of natural resources in economic growth. Nature will be the currency for resilience, and this APPF meeting is a platform to shape policies defining our region’s path toward a greener, inclusive, and sustainable future.
Together, let us forge a future where economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand—a future where development aligns with, rather than compromises, our environment. Let our laws transcend generations but meet the urgent needs of the time.

Thank you for your attention and commitment to a better future for all.