Climate change is one of the most pressing and defining global issues today. It has become imperative for both the public and private sectors to continue to band together to primarily, safeguard the welfare of the people and to step up to strengthen the resilience of the nation.
The Philippines currently ranks third globally when it comes to climate change vulnerability. In relation to its geographical location, it is more exposed to altering intensities of climate change manifested through erratic weather systems and natural calamities.
The private sector is called upon now more than ever to align with the principles of sustainable development and to take on the same firm stance on environmentally sound practices in its operations.
“I constantly encourage the private sector to work closely with the government. This way, we can be more cohesive in our efforts to make more meaningful progress towards a better and sustainable future. As a private enterprise, SM Prime will continue to do its share in addressing climate change for the benefit of communities,” said Hans T. Sy, SM Prime Holdings Chairman of the Executive Committee.
Sustainability at SM Prime is at the core of its corporate identity. SM Prime has spearheaded sustainable practices as well as set records in pioneering programs to consciously protect the environment and strongly focus on resilience in its developments.
For one, the property conglomerate embarked on a campaign to substantially reduce its water consumption. It pioneered the installation of sewage treatment plants even before the measure was required by way of the Clean Water Act in 2004.
Today, its sewage treatment plants recycle 8.7 million cubic meters of water, lessening its dependence on freshwater sources for air conditioning operations, gardening, water closet flushing and other non-potable uses. SM Prime’s water catchment basins across 20 SM malls can also catch and store almost 79 million liters of water in total every time it rains, or as much as 32 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
By controlling the flow of flood water, surrounding communities have been provided more protection against the devastating effects of floods, alleviating what communities would normally fear when the rains come.
SM Prime continues to explore ways to promote environmental consciousness in its operations and developments to minimize environmental impact.
In 2014, SM Prime achieved an important milestone in the country with SM City North EDSA becoming then the world’s largest solar-powered mall. Today, SM Prime is adding eleven more malls with solar roof decks.
Showing its firm resolve to advance its sustainability agenda, the company is committed to increasing the use of renewable energy by 50% in 2022 across its various business segments, ahead of the national goal to be 35% renewable by 2030.
Through these efforts, SM Prime is committed to providing affordable and clean energy to its tenant-partners, minimizing the carbon footprint emission in its operations.
Collaboration toward resilience
As a key figure in the private sector, Mr. Sy and his dedication to environmental protection continue to serve as a testament to how Philippine businesses can usher positive change toward disaster resilience and risk reduction management in the country.
In 2012, Mr. Sy joined the United Nations Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) for Disaster Reduction. In 2015, he was also inducted as the first and only Filipino member UNDRR ARISE (Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies) International Board. He currently serves as co-chair in the ARISE-Philippines network and National Resilience Council (NRC) of the Philippines, representing the private sector. He continues to help develop multi-sectoral partnerships in the country to strengthen the ability of corporations, including MSMEs, to prepare and respond to disasters brought about by natural hazards such as earthquakes.
“Climate change is looming over our Mother Earth. If we can contribute no matter how little and if I can get everybody to be aware of it, I think we will make an impact. It’s never too late,” said Mr. Sy in a video interview for the 50 Sustainability & Climate Leaders initiative.