Although the media has portrayed the excellent bilateral relationship between the Philippines and its neighboring Asian countries such as Japan and, to a larger extent, the United States, the country has other allies in terms of economic and social progress. One of these is South Africa.
In fact, both countries have solidified such partnership more than 20 years ago not only by establishing embassies in each other’s countries but also in growing trade and employment. South Africa remains one of the reliable and long-standing trading partners of the Philippines while more than a thousand Filipinos have found jobs in South Africa, sending more than US$5 million to their families back home in 2011.
Granted, both are different in many ways, but we’re also similar in a variety of reasons. The poverty incidence between the Philippines and South Africa remains very high. According to the National Statistics Coordination Board, more than 27% of the Filipinos fell below the poverty line as of the first months of 2012. On the other hand, South Africa has an unemployment rate of about 25%.
And while both the Philippines and South Africa are immensely blessed by their rich culture and biodiversity, they are also two of the most at-risk countries in the world because of climate change. Aside from the increased temperatures over the last decade and the more unpredictable weather patterns, the residents of each suffer from poor housing structures, lack of preparedness, high poverty and inequality, and vulnerability to shortage of food and security, which further complicate their conditions.
Progress of the Philippines and South Africa has been slow, but they are making steps. In terms of economy, the Philippines is preparing for a better entry during the ASEAN Integration in 2015 while South Africa is part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) with a plan of creating their own bank and credit rating as a way of being less dependent on other superpowers such as the European Union and the United States.
In terms of sustainability, we’ve seen great efforts in adopting technologies and solutions that aim to significantly reduce waste of resources and energy, all as part of the growing green revolution.
Both have established councils to regulate, supervise, and promote sustainable building designs: Philippine Green Building Council and Green Building Council of South Africa.
The idea of green design, fortunately, has been receiving a positive response from various related industries such as architecture and engineering that we can already see “green buildings and homes” have become emerging trends.
As examples, in South Africa, the Vodacom Innovation Centre was one of the first buildings to receive a rating of 6-star Green Star SA, which means it’s already one of the most forward-thinking green buildings in the planet. With its main goal to reduce carbon footprint, it takes advantage of natural light to bring down heat loads and improve natural air circulation.
In the Philippines, Calyx Centre in Asiatown IT Park, Cebu City, takes pride of being the first green hybrid building that almost eliminates unnecessary use of energy and fuel by offering spaces for home, work, and leisure. It also features unenclosed corridors to bring in natural light and improve fresh air circulation, CFLs for major lighting systems, as well as gardens for meditation and jogging paths. If you are interested to learn more about Calyx Centre, visit this real estate website in Cebu.