In many Asian developing countries, policy makers face tension between the needs of economic growth, human development and environmental sustainability. In a similar vein, the new global agreement on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for the harmonization of economic and environmental goals. To shed light on the relationship between the economy and natural resources, our research investigates the case of the Philippines, employing a material flow accounting approach based on national statistical sources. We analyze domestic extraction, trade of materials and economic development from 1980 to 2014. We also explore differences between territorial (production) and footprint (consumption) accounts. We find that the Philippine economy managed to grow while reducing material intensity because of an increasing share of services sector activities. From net resource trade dependence in the 1980s, the Philippines become a net resource provider in 2014 because of increased extraction and exports of metal ores. Overall, the material requirements grew over the past two decades at lower rate than GDP, signifying relative decoupling. The new data and indicators we present are aimed to inform the national policy agenda. They may help to formulate policies that integrate economic and environmental priorities and guide the Philippines towards achieving the SDGs.
Ecological Economics – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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