SEA’s green recovery to generate 30m jobs

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic source: Asian Development Bank FB

SOUTH-EAST Asia’s (SEA) green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to create US$172 billion (RM760 billion) investment opportunities and generate more than 30 million jobs by 2030.

The latest report by Asian Development Bank (ADB) has identified five areas that support post-Covid recovery through greenery development, one of which is regenerative farming.

Accounting for 18.4% of global emissions, ADB warned that the agriculture sector contributes to the largest greenhouse gases emissions.

ADB DG for SEA Ramesh Subramaniam gave an example of some rural parts in Myanmar, where improper crop management practices such as soil tilling and monoculture led to land degradation.

“Coupled with rising average temperatures due to climate change, crop yields have fallen, while the costs of land cultivation and the amount of uncultivable land area have increased.

“The report also urged us to focus on developing sustainable cities and transports as they consume 78% of the world’s energy and are susceptible to the impacts of climate change such as flood,” he said during a webinar jointly organised by ADB and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute today.

Moreover, he added, the energy sector plays a role in decarbonising SEA economies since fossil fuel consumption in the region has also increased by more than 80% in the past two decades.

“A report has found that reaching the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require the region to achieve at least 50% of decarbonised electricity generation by 2030 and 100% by 2050, through deploying a wide range of renewable energy (RE) and storage technologies.

“Enhancing energy efficiency across all sectors such as through the electrification of end-use sectors like transport, buildings and manufacturing, will also be an important element of SEA’s climate mitigation pathway in achieving the Paris Agreement target,” Ramesh added.

With climate change being linked to material use, ADB suggested looking into circular economies and shifting away from linear “take-make-waste” models toward regenerative systems which enable waste to be minimised and converted into valuable outputs.

Moreover, the report stated that oceans have been affected by rising seawater temperature and overfishing, which are bad for the region’s markets that depend heavily on marine biodiversity.

“Globally, coral reef damage will hit SEA economies the most, particularly Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand due to their heavy reliance on marine ecosystems and the large populations of smallholder fishermen,” Ramesh said.

Other highlights in the report include green technology research, the role of women entrepreneurs in green businesses and managing biodiversity better through open and integrated data systems.

ADB also hopes that SEA governments can identify sustainable sources of financing that will fund climate-friendly infrastructures and leverage green growth opportunities.

Such solutions include mobilising domestic resources through environmental and carbon taxes, reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and mobilising private investment, among others.

Also present at the webinar was Indonesian deputy assistant for Investment Strategy, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs Ferry Akbar Pasaribu who said the Indonesian government has included some incentives to attract more private investors in RE.

“We want to help more foreign and domestic investors go into RE,” he said.

Currently, Indonesia is working with experts from China and Korea to develop their electric vehicle industry to reduce dependence on fossil fuel.