Southeast Asia is continuously advancing, however, is facing a challenge with the environment. The innovations in this region have led to an increase in air pollution levels in urban areas, which have surpassed the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The air pollution in the Philippines’ capital city, Manila, alone caused 11,000 to 27,000 deaths in 2018, and has impacted 98% of the city’s entire population. In fact, the Philippines was ranked 4th among the most affected countries by extreme weather conditions between 2000-2019.
According to a Greenpeace study, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has urged Southeast Asia to progress towards a more sustainable growth. This growth should be achieved through increasing green investments and reducing the region’s environmental footprints. Green investments are considered essential in the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) as the region aims for better environmental, social, and economic policies.
The OECD recommends that foreign direct investments (FDI) should support economic growth while combating environmental degradation. Foreign investors, who often have more budget for sustainable technologies and solutions, can bring in greener alternatives as they are regulated by rigid international environmental standards.
However, For FDIs to be successful, governments need to create an investment environment for businesses to have bankable projects. This can be achieved by establishing policies and regulations that are environmentally conducive to FDIs.
Overall, for FDIs to increase, all investment areas, from technical, financial, to environmental, should be targeted and aligned with building greener capabilities. The region’s future depends on the development of sustainable growth, and the government has a crucial role in creating a space for this. The region should not sacrifice the environment for economic growth, but instead, work towards a balance that would benefit both the economy and the environment.