It’s election season in Asia. Thailand went to the polls last month, with India, Indonesia and the Philippines to follow. Eco-Business finds out whether sustainability is an election issue in the world’s most populous region.
Voters across Asia are most likely to usher in governments that take a stronger stance on climate change and other environmental issues, according to several surveys released in the lead-up to national elections taking place in the region.
Months before Filipinos cast their ballots on 13 May, a survey published by environmental watchdog Greenpeace and polling institution Social Weather Station (SWS) showed that a majority of the Philippines’ voters will vote green, with 73 per cent of Filipinos expressing support for candidates that want to ban single-use plastic in stores, restaurants and government offices, while 82 per cent wants a government that will implement stricter laws on waste management.
In India, while voter priorities revolve around bread and butter issues such as employment and basic healthcare, environmental issues like air and water pollution were also high on the list of concerns for urban voters, according to a survey released by the non-government organisation (NGO) Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
However, despite rising concern from the Asian populace over the state of the environment, clear policies that address climate change and major environmental issues such as deforestation, air quality and water mismanagement are still largely absent from electoral campaigns, with politicians pandering to typically populist issues linked to religion and unemployment.
“Considering Indonesia is a developing country, economic development is still the dominant issue for both candidates,” said Arief Wijaya, senior manager of Climate and Forests at World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia. “Yes there is an effort to address environmental and climate change issues, but how the sustainability agenda will be implemented after the elections is still a big question mark.”
Ahead of elections in Indonesia and the Philippines, two of the largest nations in Southeast Asia, Eco-Business finds out whether climate change and sustainable development rank high on the priorities list for the countries’ political candidates.