Tackling Climate Change Through Global And Investment Cooperation

by Elpidio Estioko

We all know that climate change is a global issue and President Joe Biden has taken the lead to address it by funding projects under the Build Back Better Act which is currently in the Senate for approval. The legislation is part of Biden’s infrastructure agenda that’s going to move the country forward.

Climate change is an issue the ASEAN saw as a major concern, affecting not only Asian countries but the whole world. So, it needs global implementation of policies and projects that will address it.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also saw climate as a major concern affecting the whole world. To address climate disaster diplomacy challenges during the pandemic, the third Climate Smart and Disaster Resilient ASEAN International Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via Zoom from Nov. 23 until 25.

I attended the three-day conference and what struck me the most was Atty. Karen Jimeno’s speech during the plenary session on Partnership and Collaboration.

Jimeno is a World Bank Consultant and the Director & Chief Counsel for SofCap Partners, a private equity investment firm in the Philippines.

As she evaluates the challenges ahead of the pandemic and climate, Jimeno said “We must move towards creating a clear and universal valuation framework and policies that enable its implementation at the global, regional, and local levels.”

With the complexity and importance of addressing climate change, Jimeno said that it even impacts our financial and investment decisions.

“We have also come to realize that climate change and valuations are inextricably linked. SofCap Partners is a growth equity investment firm that partners with Philippine enterprises to create value and positive impact. The investments we evaluate include direct investments in infrastructure, services, real estate, food and agriculture, technologies, health, and education,” she explained.

“Valuations are an essential aspect of guiding our decisions in order to achieve positive impact. SofCap, like other private equity funds, uses ESG metrics to

measure the impact of our investments.”

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. ESG metrics are often used by investors to determine how sustainable and responsible a company is when it comes to the environment, social issues and governance.

Although ESG includes “environment” as one of its considerations, it’s not enough to fully evaluate businesses’ impact on climate change mitigation according to Jimeno.

“Currently there is no universal standard for ESG metrics, and stakeholders in the industry are left to themselves to create their own guidelines and standards. Even more difficult is finding ways to value investments in relation to resilience and climate change. We are compelled to consider all risks and opportunities in evaluating investments,” she said in her speech.

Climate change doesn’t only affect the Earth, but also those who live in it, including us humans. It can trigger social instability, migrations, health impacts, food insecurity among many other things.

But despite this, Jimeno said climate risks are rarely considered into the costs of investments or lack thereof.

“In my work with the World Bank, I witnessed how risks and benefits related to resilience or climate change adaptation projects are not fully evaluated,” she said.

“For instance, in one of our resilience projects for a country affected by sea-level rise, the cost of alternatives such as raising land seemed financially indefensible. Some people suggested that mass migration may be a more practical solution. A participant in our stakeholder consultation, a citizen of a country which was losing their land to sea level rise, asked: “how can you put a price on the loss of our heritage, our culture, and our identity?””

Jimeno admits that it’s difficult to assess climate change risks and opportunities with the lack of guidelines and consistency in the information disclosed.

“The lack of a valuation framework is one of the biggest challenges in resilience investments, and consequently a challenge in enhancing regional and multilateral collaboration in funding such types of investments,” she said.

Moreover, Jimeno pointed out that climate change risks and opportunities impact multiple sectors and require involvement from investors, policymakers, civil society, and all people down to the community level. Everyone must be involved.

Prior to joining SofCap Partners, Jimeno served as Undersecretary for the Presidential Management Staff, Undersecretary for the Department of Public Works and Highways, Legal Counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee of the 17th Congress of the Philippines, and Program Host and News Anchor for CNN Philippines.

She holds a degree in Master of Development Practice Certified in Engineering and Business for Sustainability from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of Asia and the Pacific. Jimeno is licensed to practice law in the Philippines and New York.

Plenary session speaker Atty. Karen Jimeno is the daughter of my fraternity brother Atty. Nicanor Jimeno from the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Beta Rho Omega Fraternity.

Since climate change is a real global issue, we need to address it as a partnership for all nations in all aspects: technically, financially, and academically!

Can we do it? Yes, we can!

To watch the full plenary session on Strengthening Cooperation for a Green and Sustainable Recovery, head to youtu.be/njqPldrOLME.

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

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