MANILA, 01 April 2020 — Echoing the pronouncement of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said that the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic presents an opportunity to rebuild the economy and set the stage for a recovery that forges new ways to pursue development.
In a virtual press conference last 19 March, Guterres said that world leaders have the responsibility to “recover better” from the pandemic. “We must ensure that lessons are learned and that this crisis provides a watershed moment for health emergency preparedness and for investment in critical 21st century public services and the effective delivery of global public goods,” he said.
The CCC also expressed support to the three-phased program of interventions proposed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to prevent the Covid-19 situation from becoming an economic and social crisis.
The first phase of the NEDA proposal involves (a) clinical and medical response, such as early detection and diagnosis, effective management and treatment protocol, and research and epidemiological studies; (b) public health responses such as travel ban, promotion of proper hygiene, school closures, and flexible work arrangements; and (c) short-term augmentation of the Philippines' health systems capacity, such as establishing makeshift outpatient consultation facilities with specimen harvesting and the increase of supply of personal protective equipment.
The second phase will focus on rebuilding consumer and business confidence, while the third phase will involve the resumption of a "new normal" state of economic activity more prepared for another possible pandemic.
According to the CCC, this three-phased program further strengthens the CCC’s leadership resolve to facilitate the country’s paradigm shift toward sustainable development pathways.
Since its establishment and pursuant to its mandate under the law, the CCC has been laying the groundwork for the transformation of critical sectors toward a more sustainable and equitable economic growth that is more resilient to the interconnected threats of climate change and public health emergencies.
In line with this, the CCC reiterated its call for government and business leaders around the world to think and plan beyond returning to business as usual. The climate change body noted that restoring the status quo when the pandemic is over will only bring more public health problems in the future.
The Covid-19 outbreak, just like the climate crisis, disproportionately affects the poor and marginalized. Preventing and overcoming another public health crisis, therefore, will entail investments across all sectors of society.
For its part, the CCC said that it will advocate for more investments in (a) policy development and discourse that promote future thinking and health crisis scenario building; (b) surveillance and early warning for disease outbreaks and emergence of new diseases; (c) health emergency preparedness and response planning, including periodic simulation exercises for health care facilities, and (d) institutional strengthening, including human resource and systems enhancement, and health facilities upgrading across the health sector.