DURBAN—As world leaders meeting here struggle to agree on a new deal to combat catastrophic climate change, the Philippines took the center stage urging governments to mainstream climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction strategies needed at local levels.
Climate Change Commission Vice-Chairperson Lucille Sering, head of the Philippine delegation, said the importance of addressing climate change across all levels of the government through ‘climate conscious’ planning and management to help achieve national climate goals as well as minimize trade-offs between environmental and economic priorities.
“ If we want to improve our adaptive capacity, we should focus our synergies to the most vulnerable communities to address the welfare of the population, health and sustainability of our environment,” Sering said at the sidelines of the two-weeks United Nations-backed climate talks here.
The Philippines presented its 18-years National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) approved by President Benigno S. Aquino III a week before the Durban climate talks, highlighting the Eco-town Framework, an ecosystem-based approach in building the resiliency of local communities.
Sering said that by using this approach, the community would be able to increase its adaptive capacity, sustain environmental growth and utilize climate-friendly technologies available as well as improving its local economy.
Sering said that among the top 10 poorest areas in the Philippines, some areas has already been identified to serve as models for sustainable economic growth namely Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur, Batanes, Marikina City with Pasig, Quezon City and Taguig., Batanes.
Under the framework, which would depend on the needs and resources of each local government units, it would reflect the national and local action plans to prevent re reduce migration, promote sustainable use of natural resources, improve delivery of basic services, promote green jobs and reduce risks from the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“ President Aquino has instructed all government agencies to converge and continue to implement these climate-resilient measures to save lives, loss of infrastructures and agriculture. We wanted to be a model of a climate-resilient country for Asia,” Sering stressed.
According to Sheila Marie Encabo, Director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA and Programme Coordinator of the MDGF—1656 Joint Programme, said the Philippines is now focusing on scaling up and replication of proven good practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures as well as implementing efforts related to research and development.
“ We have a very well-planned action to combat climate change and we hope to incorporate them in our local development planning for the local government units to mainstream all measures to address not only the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but on social and economic development of the country,” Encabo said.
She said the government is now focusing on improving institutions linked with disaster management, and to plan better for future disasters, considering that the Philippines is highly vulnerable to severe typhoons, floodings and droughts and rising sea level.
Each year, the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons. Most of the deadliest and damaging typhoons that hit the country occurred in the last two decades resulting to over $2 billion in direct damages and causing over 25,000 lives.
In 2009 alone, according to World Bank figures, around $4.3 billion or P207 billion were accounted for in damages to crops, property and infrastructure. The country needs at least $4.42 billion for it to recover over three years.
“ That is why we need to be prepared sooner rather than later. Here in Durban climate change talks, we are hopeful that governments will act together in addressing greenhouse gas emissions reduction as well as financing in order for developing countries to adapt to climate change,” Sering said.
Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Neric Acosta, who is also part of the Philippine delegation here, said series of substantial measures have been put into practice already in mainstreaming climate change actions to fighting climate change.
“ There is already a clear direction for all national and local government units to combat climate change over the long-term. And we need to do more in the coming years as we do need strong actions in order for us to be a resilient country,” Acosta said.
The Philippine delegation here at the climate talks joins more than 10,000 participants from 194 countries aimed to paved way for an ambitious and effective international climate change deal.