Powering Progress Together: A global forum

Last February 6, experts on energy, water and food came together with representatives from business, government, and NGOs for the Powering Progress Together forum at the Manila Hotel

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines was the first Asian country to host Shell Powering Progress Together, a global forum on energy, water and food, on February 6.

Experts on energy, water and food came together with representatives from business, government, and non-governmental organizations for a one-day forum in the Manila Hotel. They discussed how population growth and rising prosperity – along with climate change – is placing increased pressure on the world’s vital resources: a phenomenon called the stress nexus.

A fitting venue

The event was held just months after Typhoon Yolanda devastated many parts of the Philippines, a stark illustration of a volatile climate. It led to interrupted supplies of vital resources.

Veteran journalist Ces Orena-Drilon moderated the forum and recognized the suitability of the location: “This is the perfect venue to discuss the inter-relation between energy, water and food.”

The forum also focused on how greater societal resilience could help tackle the challenges of the stress nexus. Discussions covered the contribution different sectors of society by forming innovative, non-traditional partnerships.

Promising solutions were proposed during the forum, with an emphasis on the need for collaborations between the private sector and governments. The challenge is how to achieve them.

Edgar Chua, country chairman of Shell companies in the Philippines, said that the forum has shown that the Philippines has a lot of good ideas to share with an international audience, inspired by the challenges they face.

Powering Progress Together: A global forum

GLOBAL THINKERS. (L-R) Vinod Thomas, Brian Walker, Jeremy Bentham and Brahma Chellaney.

The program consisted of 4 panels, each focusing on topics relevant to the stress nexus, its implications to the environment and the future of our resources.

The first panel served as an introduction to the energy, water and food nexus and the pressure on these resources.

Panel speakers included: Jeremy Bentham, Shell VP Global Business Environment, Dr. Brian Walker, Chair of the Board, Resilience Alliance and CSIRO, Australia and Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, CEO WWF Philippines.

The panel discussed the inter-relationship between energy, water and food. Water is required to produce energy; energy is needed to supply, purify, distribute and treat water; and both water and energy are needed to produce food.

By 2050, world population will reach 9 billion, 2 billion more than today: 75% of the population will move in to cities and almost 3 billion of the world’s population will join the middle classes. This means more people will have access to clean water, healthy food, and modern energy. Pressure will increase on the world’s vital resources: the stress nexus.

Bentham said that the stress nexus is a serious global challenge that needs to be resolved holistically and we need to be able to provide the additional resources in ways that reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Watch the first panel discussion below.

The second panel discussed the impact of the stress nexus on the Asian Region.

Panel speakers: Carlos Petilla, Secretary Department of Energy, Simon Henry, Shell Chief Financial Officer, Dr. Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies, India Center for Policy Research; 2012 Asia Society “Bernard Schwartz Book Award” recipient for “Water: Asia’s New Battleground” Dr. Vinod Thomas, Director General of Independent Evaluation, Asia Development Bank. 

Dr. Brahma Chellaney said that we don’t have to wait for new technologies for solutions. Past practices can be adopted today: for example, making use of rainwater for irrigation and watering gardens. This approach has already been adopted in India and rural areas in Australia.

Collaboration between the private sector and the government is crucial. Secretary Petilla said: “The government is here to ask the private sector, ‘What will it take for you to come on board?’” He indicated that the government wants this support for future projects.

Watch the second panel below.

In the third panel, each speaker talked about how the Philippines has progressed over time – yet there is still room for improvement in risk management, climate change and urban development. 

Speakers of the third panel included: Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, President, Ateneo de Manila University; Climate Scientist, Dr. Gemma Narisma, Associate Director for Research and Head, Regional Climate Systems Programme, Manila Obsevatory, Hon. Francis Tolentino, Chairman, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Arch. Paulo Alcazaren, Landscape Architect and Urban Planner.

The Philippines has experienced several natural disasters in the past year. Against this backdrop, the panelists discussed urban planning and development, climate change and disaster management.

In 2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said that EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) has the highest CO2 emissions in the Philippines. MMDA (Metropolitan  Chairman Francis Tolentino said that traffic congestion is the main challenge. Good urban planning has the potential to reduce traffic congestion and so help cut emissions.

Tolentino referred to plans for a new command center that would allow a quick response to traffic problems.

Watch the third panel below.

To end the forum on an inspirational note, the last panel shared personal stories on how they found unconventional and innovative ways to have a more sustainable future.

Speakers of the panel included: Julian Goh, Acting Director, Centre for Livable Cities – Singapore, Dr. Willie Smits, Forester, Social Entrepreneur and Chairman of the Masarang Foundation, Indonesia and Antonio Meloto, Founder, Gawad Kalinga.

Antonio Meloto shared his story of growing up in a poverty-stricken community in Bacolod City Negros Occidental. Tito Tony, as he is known, worked hard to gain a full academic scholarship at the Ateneo de Manila University.

In 1995, he established Gawad Kalinga (GK), a global movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas. With the help of its members and volunteers, GK has now been implemented in almost 2,000 communities.

GK has proven that the spirit of “bayanihan”, or unity within a community, is alive among Filipinos bridging the gap between the poor, government and the private sector.

The forum provided the opportunity for participants to build relationships, share ideas on the stress nexus and its impact on society, and discuss how they might execute the plans presented.

As Shell CFO Simon Henry said, “Our future will be as bright as we choose to make it.”

Watch the last panel below.

– Rappler.com


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