Green, Sustainability Bond Markets poised for growth

February 12, 2020

The Green and Sustainability debt markets in the Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are poised for growth, with the “necessary foundations” for their development already in place. In a keynote speech at the ASEAN+3 Bond Market Forum Meeting at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Headquarters in Manila on February 5, SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong cited the “notable” issuances of bonds worth more than US$3.8 billion under the ASEAN Green and Sustainability Bond Standards in 2019 as positive indication of the market’s development. Last year’s issuances was six times larger than the $639 million issued in 2018, when the value increased by over 50% from 2017. Sustainability bonds accounted for $1.4 billion or 36% of last year’s total, up 14 times from just $100 million in 2018. “While ASEAN may still be a relatively small player in the global Green/ Sustainability debt market – with $330 billion raised in 2019 – the rate of growth in ASEAN appears to show the necessary foundations for the development of such a Green/ Sustainability debt market have indeed been laid, including the issuance of a clear set of guidelines for issuers to follow and which investors, both international and domestic, recognize as holistic and reliable,” Mr. Amatong said. Where ASEAN stands For now, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand dominate the ASEAN Green and Sustainability bond market. The Philippines has seen 15 issuances worth $3.04 billion by a range of private sector issuers, including renewable energy firms and banks taking advantage of both on- and offshore markets. Philippine banks particularly have had notable success in this market. Among them is Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), which has issued two Sustainability bonds and one Green bond totaling $742 million, of which $442 million is peso-denominated. Bank of the Philippine Islands also issued Green bonds under the ASEAN Standards to raise $300 million and CHF100 million, with the latter transaction achieving a negative yield.  Most recently, state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines entered the domestic Sustainability market, raising $352 million from the issuance of peso-denominated Green bonds in late 2019. In 2016, there were only three Green bonds outstanding in ASEAN, for a total of $252 million. Now there are at least 57 issues under the ASEAN Standards for Green, Social and Sustainability bonds for a total of $4 billion. In the Philippines, the private sector-led foray into the Green and Sustainability capital markets first relied on strategic support from development partners, particularly in the case of renewable energy producers. Overall, seven of the Philippines’ 15 Sustainability transactions have received some form of support or engagement by multilateral development finance institutions, namely the ADB and International Finance Corporation. ‘Necessary foundations’ in place Mr. Amatong cited the issuance of a clear set of guidelines for issuers among the “necessary foundations” for the development of the ASEAN Green and Sustainability debt market. “First, we at the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) recognized early on the potential of green and sustainable finance to attract international investors, who, generally speaking, have had more funds to invest than investible options,” Mr. Amatong said. “We at ACMF see this as an opportunity for ASEAN countries, many of whom have significant infrastructure development programs, to access as yet untapped sources of much needed financing. Resilient and adaptable infrastructure is particularly important to those of us in ASEAN since we are particularly at risk to the impact of climate change.” In this light, ACMF developed the ASEAN Green Bond Standards in 2017, in line with the Green Bond Principles formulated by the International Capital Market Association. Fundamentally, the Standards provide a framework to ensure transparency and allow investors to make informed judgments regarding an offering’s “green-ness” and sustainability. The Philippines adopted the Standards in August 2018, as the SEC issued the guidelines on the issuance of bonds for the financing or refinancing of new and/or existing projects that must provide clear environmental benefits, such as those relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and control, environmentally sustainable management of living natural resources and land use, clean transportation, climate change adaptation, and green buildings. The Philippines likewise adopted the ASEAN Social Bonds Standards and ASEAN Sustainability Bonds Standards. In April 2019, the SEC issued the guidelines on the issuance of bonds for social projects aimed at providing or promoting affordable basic infrastructure, access to healthcare and education, and food security, among others, as well as those for social projects with environmental co-benefits. “ASEAN’s commitment to a sustainable future and sustainable capital markets goes beyond the issuance of standards and the debt capital markets,” Mr. Amatong said, as six of the 10 ASEAN members require publicly listed companies to issue sustainability reports. The Philippines, for one, requires publicly listed companies to disclose certain information in relation to their non-financial performance across the economic, environmental and social aspects of their organizations. The SEC issued the guidelines on sustainability reporting in February 2019. Mr. Amatong also cited the participation of five ASEAN members in international initiatives that seek to enhance sustainability risk management and the adoption by seven members of policies to mainstream sustainable finance. In March, the ACMF is expected to adopt a broader sustainable finance roadmap, which it intends to present during the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ meeting for endorsement. “All this is to say, that we think that ASEAN is off to a good start in its sustainability journey,” Mr. Amatong said. “But there is still so much we can do, and so much we need to do, to realize our shared goal of sustainable economic growth in the real economy supported by sustainable capital markets.” (SEC)

Xavier Ateneo presents blue carbon research at FIMFS convention

November 2, 2019

Xavier Ateneo - McKeough Marine Center (MMC) participated at the 51st annual convention of the Federation of Institutions for Marine and Freshwater Sciences (FIMFS) held at the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) from October 16 to 18. The study was presented by Chev Duay (XU Marine Biology alumnus, 2017), MMC research assistant, with co-author of the study was Elaine Villlaluz, XU Marine Biology faculty.  The other authors of the study, Rad Edulan (XU Marine Biology alumnus, 2017), MMC research assistant and Fr Mars Tan SJ, project leader, were not able to join the convention.   The study presented used field data collected in the mangrove mapping in the Macajalar Bay Project of the XU-MMC and the Forest Foundation Philippines.  The study titled, “Biomass, Carbon Stock, and Community Structure of Mangroves in Macajalar Bay” was conducted to estimate the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbed and then stored inside the biomass of mangrove trees in the form of leaves, branches, roots, and stems. The carbon sequestered and stored in mangroves is called "blue carbon." The results showed that the mangroves in Macajalar Bay (20 different species) which cover a total of 170 hectares have stored an estimated 99,161.17 tons of organic carbon.  This total amount of organic carbon stored in Macajalar Bay mangroves is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of 75,696 people (fossil CO2 emissions) or the yearly CO2 emission of 21,500 passenger vehicles.   A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (US Environmental Protection Agency). The study will provide vital information to mangrove forest managers, planners, planters and the like to boost and encourage the planting of mangroves as a strategy to help mitigate climate change.

AboitizPower solar and geo units earn, keep ISO certifications

October 24, 2019

The PHP3.7-billion facility in San Carlos City is AboitizPower’s first solar power project and its first venture on Negros Island. Today, the solar farm helps prevent the emission of more than 44,000 tons of carbon dioxide over 20 years, which is equivalent to taking around 10,000 cars off the road. AboitizPower subsidiary San Carlos Sun Power, Inc. (SacaSun) has earned certifications for its compliance to international standards in quality management, environmental management, as well as occupational health and safety management systems. This development came three years after SacaSun, the operator of the 59-MWp utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant located in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental began supplying clean and renewable energy to the grid. SacaSun passed the external integrated management system (IMS) surveillance audit conducted by TUV Rheinland Philippines, Inc. on October 14 to 16, 2019. “The organization was able to materialize and continuously provide projects to the community as part of community service relations such as Brigada Eskwela, Community-based DRRM Training and Equipment Donation, and Back-to-School Support for Elementary Schools Project 2019,” Lionell Aala, auditor for SacaSun, said. Since 2016, SacaSun has been fulfilling its commitment to co-creating safe, empowered, and sustainable communities through its various corporate social responsibility programs, community sponsorships, and ER 1-94 projects. Meanwhile, AboitizPower’s geothermal unit AP Renewables, Inc. (APRI) maintained the validity of its certificates for ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS) for its corporate center in Taguig City and its power facilities in MakBan, Laguna and Tiwi, Albay. The two power facilities also maintained their ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS) certificate and upgraded their Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) certificate to the latest version, which is ISO 45001:2018. All three sites registered zero non-conformity in the last four years. AP Renewables, Inc. (APRI), one of the leading geothermal energy producers in the country, delivers clean and renewable baseload power with the two facilities that it operates in Tiwi, Albay; Bay and Calauan, Laguna; and Sto. Tomas, Batangas. “By implementing IMS in our internal process, we are able to achieve operational and service excellence while providing consistent employee development, reducing occupational health and safety risks, and creating a conducive working environment for our people and partners,” said Alexander B. Coo, president and chief operating officer of AboitizPower’s geothermal and solar business units. TUV Rheinland Philippines lead auditor Eufronio Alonzo cited the internal IMS audit process of APRI as one of the best practices in the AboitizPower group. “Quarterly 5S audits also resulted in an excellent state of housekeeping at different sites,” he added. 5S is a system for organizing spaces so work can be performed efficiently, effectively, and safely.  TUV external auditors noted a total of 23 positive findings for both APRI and SacaSun, reinforcing the companies’ commitment to advancing business and communities.   *** About AboitizPower AboitizPower is the holding company for the Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities. The company is one of the largest power producers in the Philippines with a balanced portfolio of assets located across the country. It is a major producer of Cleanergy, its brand for clean and renewable energy with several hydroelectric, geothermal and solar power generation facilities. It also has thermal power plants in its generation portfolio to support the baseload and peak energy demands of the country. The company also owns distribution utilities that operate in high-growth areas in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, including the second and third largest private utilities in the country.    

LGU tapping divers to maintain Camiguin’s marine life

June 24, 2019

To preserve its flourishing marine flora and fauna, the provincial government of this island has urged divers and tourists to help them in preventing the destruction of its coral reefs.   Outgoing Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo said visitorsto the province, especially sea divers, also play a role in the protection and preservation of Camiguin’s marine life.   “We hope we can get more divers, responsible tourists, like you who would help us in the maintenance, in the preservation of our dive spots,” Romualdo told the crowd of divers, tourists and locals during the opening ceremony of the 1st Camiguin Dive Festival held at the Lagundi Beach in this town on Sunday, June 23.   The two-month festival runs from June 23 to August 31 and will showcase various activities such as Scubasurero, fun dive, dive classes, underwater photography contest, among others.   She said they are taking care of their marine-protected areas, even organizing the residents and fisherfolk to safeguard the dive sites and fish sanctuaries around the island.   “So anything you see in the marine-protected areas, in the dive spots, which you think can destroy our coral reefs, our fish, please feel free to remove it. I will give you that authority,” the governor added, referring to fish traps that are placed on corals and have proven to be destructive.   Camigun has around 30 dive sites scattered throughout the island’s provincial waters.   According to Department of Tourism-10 (DOT-10) regional director Marie Elaine Unchuan, the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving has already accredited six dive shops in Camiguin, owing to the increasing number of divers who visit the province.   Unchuan noted that operators are investing in dive shops, which would mean more local and international divers are coming over to Camiguin.   “We’ve talked to the stakeholders to really up their game to develop dive facilities and dive shops that are DOT-accredited and worthy of international visitors,” she said, adding that more foreigners are visiting the island’s dive spots.   “You can see we have a good percentage of foreigners. We’re tapping the European market,” the regional director added, referring to the influx of divers.   Veteran diver and underwater photographer and videographer Bo Mancao, who documented the festival, said Camiguin has always been unique because it’s one of the volcanic reef islands in the country.   “I keep coming back here and I keep finding new stuff, be it coral, be it fish, be it invertebrate. There’s always something new in Camiguin,” Mancao said.   He said he was impressed by how clean the coral reefs are. “I think this goes to show how the leadership in Camiguin works. They are very good in organizing their trash management. Even if there are wastes that float from the mainland to Camiguin, they have a way of collecting and disposing it.”   Diver and blogger Gian Carlo Jubela said he was surprised that Black Forest, a part of the coral reef near the White Island is free of garbage considering that the sand bar is one of most visited tourist destinations in Camiguin.   “We do hope that it can be maintained; the ocean is life, and if the oceans die, the planet dies, we all perish,” Jubela said.   Mambajao mayor and governor-elect Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said he cannot understand why people still throw their trash in the sea despite the existence of laws and ordinances prohibiting it.   Romualdo said they want to preserve the reputation of Camiguin’s coral reefs as pristine and dive-worthy, with the help of divers.   “I’m really banking on the dive resorts and all the divers that come here. Help me preserve this beautiful island. I cannot do this alone,” he said.   What makes Camiguin’s corals and other underwater life still intact after the occurrence of volcanic eruptions in the past is in itself a cause for wonder and amazement, he said.   “Divers have been telling that it’s more beautiful under the water than on top,” Romualdo said. Camiguin provincial tourism officer Candice Naome Dael said they expect the volume of tourists to further increase because of the Dive Festival and other regular annual activities in the island, which include the Lanzones Festival and the Panaad, a yearly activity involving Roman Catholic devotees who walk around the island as form of penance during the Holy Week.   The Manila-Camiguin flights recently offered by an airline company would also help boost the number of foreign and local visitors to visit the province, she said.   “We are projecting a million or more tourists for this year,” Dael said, adding that the establishment of new multi-room hotels and resorts will help address the growing number of vacationers to the island.

DENR-PENRO Camiguin acquires new fabricated watercraft for patrol, surveillance

May 1, 2019

To further strengthen its seaborne patrol and surveillance of  the areas under the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management  Program (CMEMP) and 31 Marine Protected Areas, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Camiguin  launched its new fabricated watercraft in Mambajao, Camiguin recently.      The double engine watercraft was blessed by Reverend Father Ramon Francis Burlat early in the morning of April 5 and a launching voyage/test run was made from Yumbing, Mambajao, Camiguin to Medano Island more popularly known as White Island Marine Park.  The motorboat has a capacity of more or less 10 passengers.  The fabrication of motorized boat is one of target activities under CMEMP for FY 2018.        The said activity was graced by Regional Executive Director Arleigh J. Adorable, Environmental Management Bureau – 10 Regional Director Reynaldo S. Digamo, Assistant Regional  Director for Technical Services Paquito D. Melicor, Jr, division chiefs of the regional office, other field officials and local government officials and PENRO Camiguin personnel headed by PENR Officer Merlyn O. Dumalahay.      The CMEMP is a program of DENR which aims to comprehensively manage, address and effectively reduce the drivers and threats of degradation of the coastal and marine ecosystems in order to achieve and promote sustainability of ecosystem services, food security and climate change resiliency for the benefit of the present and future generations. Collaborative partnerships with other National Government Agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, academe and other stakeholders is undertaken in the implementation of the program.      Its components include Marine Protected Area Network Establishment and Strengthening, Knowledge Management Platform, Biodiversity-Friendly Social Enterprise Development, Social Marketing and Mobilization, Capacity Building, Technical Assistance, and Monitoring and Evaluation.  (From the report of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR)  Rose Ann C. Baron #TayoAngKalikasan

PHIVOLCS equips HS teachers on disaster preparedness in Camiguin

May 1, 2019

CAMIGUIN -- In preparing students on possible natural hazards, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in partnership with the Department of Education (Deped) held the Training on Communicating Volcano, Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards for High School Teachers April 23-25 at Camiguin Highland Resort, Mambajao, here.      PHIVOLCS Undersecretary Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. the high school teachers are among their primary target audience because they are “ang ka-partner natin para ‘yung mga bata, mga estudyante at ang kanilang pamilya ay maging mas handa sa mga disaster (our partners so the children, students and their families will be more prepared during disasters).”      Solidum said Philippines is prone to earthquakes due to its geologic and geographic settings, with about 20 tropical cyclones that affect the country annually, strong winds could cause damages to houses and structures; heavy rains could cause floods and landslides.      The undersecretary also cited the hazards in Camiguin and these include tsunami, landslides, earthquakes and more.      These hazards could lead to life loss, damages to buildings, displacement of people, loss of water supply, communication, and other basic services, road damages, little production of food supply, and cessation of business operations.      “While Filipinos have the spirit of resilience, it is not an excuse for us to not do anything,” Solidum said.       In converting resilience of hope to action, Solidum urges everyone to (1) reduce various losses; where people should still have their own livelihood; (2) ensure effective and efficient ways to respond in disasters; and (3) uphold fast recovery by understanding the hazards and its possible impacts.      “Preparedness is everyone’s work and business,” the undersecretary stressed. Thus, training high school teachers is just one step in bracing for a resilient and disaster prepared nation.       PHIVOLCS is a service institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that is principally mandated to mitigate disasters that may arise from volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami and other related geotectonic phenomena. (RTP/PIA10)


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