Ecological cities

“Sustainable” is still a big word in the development circles, but it seems that the bigger word “ecological” has overtaken it. These two words are actually compatible, and are in fact mutually exclusive. By comparison however, “sustainable” seems to be a spent word, because it is already given that it should be done in the first place, whereas “ecological” is still a relatively emerging word that suggests imperative actions that still have to be done.

A number of my friends pointed out to me that the correct terminology is “ecological capital” and not “ecology capital”, and I stand corrected. I also stand corrected that ecological capital is not exactly a new concept, except that it has not really gained in popularity. Perhaps what is relatively new is the notion that when combined together as joint assets, ecological capital and social capital could become a powerful resource that could generate a lot of financial capital.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Debt for Nature Swap (DNS) are the two huge sources of ecological capital that are still relatively untapped by both the national government agencies (NGAs) and the local government units (LGUs). This is really very surprising to note in a country that is hungry for capital, when in fact these two sources of money are already staring at us in the face.

Also known as the carbon credits scheme, CDM is quickly becoming very popular worldwide as its mechanics are becoming clearer, and as its manner of applicability is becoming more defined. Essentially designed to reduce the carbon footprints of countries in general, its methods of applicability have gone down to the level of compliant companies, and it is evolving to a point that it is now down to the level of personal carbon footprints.

Strictly speaking, the DNS scheme does not really condone our foreign debts, although that is true in a figurative sense. What actually happens is that we will in effect pay for our external debts not in the form of cash, but in the form of ecological capital that we would internally generate, by way of nature related projects. Of course we have to invest money to generate the ecological capital, but the value added we get is very much worth it.

“Green communities” is a generic term that applies to buildings and villages. In both cases, the common denominators are the building associations and village associations that are composed of the residents. On a slightly bigger scale, this would apply to barangay councils that are in effect composed also of the residents. All told, buildings, villages and barangays could now go green if their organizations would decide to do so.

In service to the nation, I have formed a consortium of experts who are now ready to provide consulting services to the NGAs and LGUs that are in search of ways and means to raise ecological capital from CDM and DNS projects. The income potential does not stop there, because even without these two mechanisms, money could be made from several choices of environment related projects.

To make it easy for its clients, the consortium will also provide the initial financing that is needed to start-up the projects, in consideration of a success driven profit sharing arrangement. Furthermore, the consortium will also handle the documentation of the carbon and nature values, as well as the marketing of these values to the world markets.

It is already a forgone conclusion that the funds that are available from the general appropriations act (GAA), the internal revenue allocation (IRA) and the countryside development fund (CDF) sources are not enough to finance the local development projects. Given this reality, it is now time for the NGAs and the LGUs to start tapping the ecological capital sources that are already widely available.

Ecological cities or eco-cities are the ways of the future. Many countries have started many years ago to create new cities or to recreate old cities in such a way that these population centers would have very low carbon footprints, while at the same time keeping or raising the standards of living that used to be fed with high carbon resources. The time to act is today, because tomorrow is already too late. If we do not act today, we will be left behind by the countries that already started their ecological moves yesterday.

About the Author
Ike Señeres Ike Señeres writes column for The Mindanao Bulletin. He is also known as Ka Iking – owing to his advocacy on Bantay Goberno. He is currently active in both print and broadcast media with “no holds barred.” His weekly column is syndicated in 30 community newspapers in the Philippines.
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