Press Releases Archived (October 2016)

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Policymakers should push for an integrated approach to urban environment resilience.

This is how Dr. Marife Ballesteros, acting vice president of state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), summarized the discussion on urban environment resilience last September 22.

"When we look at resilience, we should not merely be concerned with the sectoral aspects but with the integrated policy approach," she explained.

The said discussion was part of the Second Annual Public Policy Conference on Risks, Shocks, Building Resilience, which is the highlight of the celebration of the 14th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM). Resilience in agriculture, health, and macroeconomy was also covered during the one-day event.

The DPRM is celebrated across the country every September in view of Malacaang Proclamation No. 247 issued in 2002. It promotes public awareness and appreciation of the importance of policy research in the formulation of public policies, programs, and projects.

This year's celebration focused on the importance of building the country's resilience, aptly captured in the event slogan, "Angkop na Kahandaan: Matatag na Ekonomiya at Lipunan".

'Most glaring' problems in the Metro

Ballesteros said that a clear understanding of the nature of resilience must first be addressed before policy recommendations can be made.

"Risks are complex, but so is resilience," explained Ballesteros, who served as the moderator for the session on building urban environment resilience.

In order to target urban resilience specifically, studies should focus on the metropolitan areas, such as Manila, where urban environment problems are "most glaring", she added.

A panelist also raised the need for an integration of disciplines, where social sciences must be combined with the natural sciences to maximize their strengths in crafting policy solutions.

"We are so trained as specialists, economists, political scientists, physicists, but the reality is that the problems we are facing are all interconnected," said Dr. Emma Porio, sociology professor from the Ateneo de Manila University who discussed risk and resilience in Metro Manila during the session.

"In a sense, when you think of urban resilience in the city, you have to think of the city as a system," she added.

She explained policymakers should look at the interaction of the geophysical, political, economic, and social aspects so as to understand vulnerability and the potentials of building resilience in Metro Manila.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto earlier urged the policy makers to look beyond natural hazards and acknowledge that the sources of risks are many and that those risks are interconnected.

Porio also challenged the current manner of looking at the socioecological and political development in governance in understanding urban environment.

"Floods do not recognize political boundaries, but we always make planning and data analysis according to political administrative boundaries," she explained.

Significant policy gap

Apparently, the Philippines still has a lot to do in terms of building resilience.

"There is a significant policy gap in terms of structures, laws, and mindsets," Ballesteros said.

The session called for the review of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which Ballesteros considered "not adequate".

Porio added that the present governance system only reacts to the current needs of this generation. "It does not think whether your grandchildren will have resources in the future," she explained.

In terms of climate adaptation, Porio said the government should come up with convergent and integrative ways of addressing the issue. "Right now, what we have is a fragmented system of governance at different levels," she added.

Porio explained that "our policymakers continue to put ourselves in an increasingly risky situation because of their decisions."

Manila is considered the most exposed city to natural disasters in the world, according to the 2016 Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index from the United Kingdom-based risk analyst, Verisk Maplecroft. ###


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The role of global value chains (GVCs) as channels for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was emphasized at a policy forum hosted recently by the World Bank (WB)-Philippine office and state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

"Three quarters of world trade is in intermediate goods and services," explained WB Senior Economist Olivier Cattaneo. "It's much harder [for MSMEs] to export directly than indirectly."

For the Philippines, GVC participation presents an opportunity for its leaders to improve the quality of jobs in the country and for MSMEs to access international markets.

"It's not only about entering GVCs but also about upgrading once you're in GVCs," said Cattaneo. To explain this point, he enumerated the vertical transfer from lead firms to MSMEs of the following benefits: skills and management capacities, technology upgrades and innovations, access to finance, access to global markets and increased connectivity, and an overall improved business environment.

Compared to its peers in the region, Catteneo concluded that the Philippines "could do better". In the past years, the pattern has seen a decline in Philippine exporters using foreign input, and an increase in Philippine input in other countries' exports. This means the Philippines has become "less integrated in the global value chains", moving further away from the end consumer, and, thus, away from control of the market.

Noticeably, another character of Philippine GVC participation, according to Cattaneo, is "less GVC integration in electronics, but more in services".

This is no coincidence. PIDS Senior Fellow Ramonette Serafica noted that there has been "an increase of services intensification" in various industries across the country, whether they are already service chains or manufacturing chains. Most of the Philippine MSMEs are concentrated in three industries"retail and wholesale, accommodation, and foods services and manufacturing.

"In each of these industries, there are also subvalue chains occurring," Serafica pointed out, "Although not explicitly identified, they also need broadband services, financial services, and other services to implement the various activities along the value chain."

Goods manufacturing involves services like product development, manufacturing, distribution, sales, and after-sale services. The most popular service outsourced and acquired by MSMEs is finance and accounting.

"Services make up [on average] a quarter of the value added in value chains," said Serafica, underlining the role and the integrated value of services sector.

Even the gamut of business upgrading, whether it is in product development or process improvement, requires services such as research and development, marketing, logistics, and internet broadband services, among others.

Increased GVC participation may increase MSMEs' exposure to global economic risks. However, this downside comes hand-in-hand with the promise of increasing MSME capacity to grow, innovate, improve their performance, and access resources that can help develop their resilience to economic and other shocks. ###