I am looking through a luxury magazine in an airport transit lounge. Back home, my country, the Philippines is in the challenging attempt at helping our people hit by the super typhoon of all time: Yolanda/Haiyan... struggling to stay alive and rebuild their lives.
I flip through the magazine issue with the theme the "good life:" travel, fashion, cuisine, designer outfits. These are some key words when "the good life" is defined. Interestingly enough, in certain sectors these words are taking on new nuances as the world struggles with climate changes, the poverty of many nations, global health and environmental issues. Our "good life" lifestyles have become unsustainable for the carbon footprints, the consumption and production processes and the mindset and perspectives we have about how we should be living our life. International agencies such as the United Nations have created programs focused on creating frameworks so programs for sustainable development can be translated on the ground. One example is The CSCP or the Center of Sustainable Consumption and Production was tasked by the UNEP (United Nations Environmental Protection).
The Philippine Workstudio was part of BIG2050 a project launched at Rio +20 in June 2012, and has begun to collect promising practices of sustainable ways of living from around the world. Through multi-stakeholder workshops, this project continues to explore the environmental and social impacts, consumer trends and aspirations, and future visions of more sustainable lifestyles across five global region and nationalities: China, Colombia, Ghana, the Philippines and Germany. The output of the workstudios are posted in the Global Knowledge Network on Sustainable Lifestyles. One of the primary drivers for the selection of the Philippines inclusion in this program was our positive growth story. The challenge is ensuring continued growth and encouraging people's participation in making the growth sustainable.
Earlier in the year, our ECHOsi (Empowering Communities with Hope and Opportunities through Sustainable Initiatives) Foundation, the non-profit arm of the green retailer ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle, got a call from CSCP in Germany to be the host partner for this Sustainable Lifestyle Workstudio. The task: to create a Vision 2050 roadmap and action plan for sustainable lifestyle in the country. Close to 50 local forward-thinking stakeholders in the fields of business and enterprise, finance, social innovation, urban planning, research and the academe, natural resources, government and NGOs, came to share, discuss the Philippines' current and emerging practices and policies. Then the group identified possible future scenarios towards the Vision 2050. More importantly, everyone discovered opportunities to scale up existing sustainability efforts and who to collaborate with.
Here is what we see in 2050 for the Philippines. Let's put on our "future" lenses!
In GOVERNANCE, the government has already set policies and legislation to ensure the basic needs of Filipino citizens, including the differently-abled, the elderly and the minorities. A reliable framework for public-private partnerships is in place. There are policies to maintain life-work balance and encouraging social interaction for the youth so technically-savvy but obsessed. Clear environmental impetus for use of eco-friendly technologies is present and more focus is on our food sources as more people are involved in agriculture and fishing industries.
For MOBILITY, we will see pedestrians and public transport as top priorities. Public transport and walkways are interconnected, reliable, safe and gender sensitive. Private and luxury vehicles are regulated by strict environmental laws and taxation.
HOUSES are compact, multiple-use with shared spaces and vertical urbanism, compact vertical vegetable gardens growing lush and green. Huge monster houses are now heavily taxes due to carbon footprints. All building permits for housing now require environmental provisions such as green roofing and vertical gardens, efficient energy and water usage and waste management. Investments will be placed in urban places to make efficient use of space through proper design which will include parks, gardens and community areas. Public infrastructure is now powered by solar or battery power.
For FOOD, organic, locally sourced food is the norm as opposed to processed unhealthy food. Even better, processed and junked foods is now subject to heavier taxes. There are a lot of quick-served food areas serving healthy food. Sustainable eating and living is a key part of the educational system, and small food producers will be given more incentives.
In HEALTH, preventive healthcare is the norm. Pharmacies that can supply natural and herbal medicines are plentiful while healthcare is made very accessible even in the barangay level. Polluting industries that have direct impact on human health are now heavily taxed.
EDUCATION will be online and interconnected, offering flexibility and opportunities. Sustainable living is a key component of the system and subjects that tackle this (example: homeopathy, organic farming, alternative medicine) will be readily available. The flexibility of learning and increase in interdisciplinary approached will provide opportunities for employment, increasing SMEs, and the number of people who opt for self-employment. Legislation to support this trend is already in place.
There is no ENERGY problems as energy generation now strikes a balance between renewable resources and fossil fuel. Homes have individual capacities to generate energy by making use of solar or wind, while electric-powered transportation modes will be mainstream.
TECHNOLOGY is democratized and everyone has access to digital communication tools. There are "sustainable social influencers" who are key opinion leaders in the digital age. Despite technology, the inherent Filipino values of close family ties and social networks is ever-present.
This our Filipino scenario for a sustainable future world, and it's what the good life is about. We can dream... can't we? The future is created by the thoughts we have now. In every small step we take, each decision we make, the people we collaborate with-we can make the ideal come alive and the world a better place, as we try to take concrete steps to live sustainably.
(Check out Vision 2050 and be part of the Global Network of Sustainable Lifestyles)
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