From U.S. sailors to global manufacturers: rapid economic growth and its environmental costs in Subic Bay (Philippines)
Elisabeth Schober (University of Oslo)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will examine the double bind between demands for economic growth and the struggle for environmental restoration in Subic Bay, where recent changes have given rise to tensions between those advocating for more industry, and those who want to protect the bay from environmental destruction.
Paper long abstract:
This paper will examine the double bind between demands for economic growth and the struggle for environmental restoration in Subic Bay (Philippines). The communities adjacent to the former U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay have undergone major transformations since the U.S. military left in 1992. Through the establishment of a Freeport Zone, the area has become a hub for foreign direct investors seeking to profit from the Philippines' low labor costs. Today, Subic Bay houses both small- to medium-sized foreign companies and heavy industries. These days, the physical environment of Subic Bay is radically changing: roads are built in sparsely populated areas, power lines are put up that often solely supply the companies, new condos for foreign managers are erected in protected forest areas. Tens of thousands of workers are bussed to factories on a daily basis, old fishing grounds are lost due to increasing pollution and newly established water boundaries, and thousands of people are relocated to make space for new developments. These changes have given rise to much tension between those advocating for more industry and the economic expansion this will bring, and those who want to see the bay cleaned up, its biodiversity protected, and its air- and water quality stabilized. In the midst of such "overheating", people living nearby the Subic Bay have to make rather difficult choices: do they want to prioritize demands for economic growth, or protect their most valuable asset, the bay, from environmental destruction?
Economies of growth or ecologies of survival? Fear and hope in an overheated world