What climate change readiness means for inclusive growth in PHL

TAGUIG CITY —As much as it is a battle for the environment, mechanisms for climate change preparedness and mitigation corresponds to inclusive growth, especially among vulnerable sectors in the Philippines.

The World Bank, following the release of its report entitled “Getting a Grip on Climate Change in the Philippines,” stressed the urgency for the Philippine to address policy gaps in climate financing and the implementation of a climate-smart development agenda to continue growth amid a warming planet.

The report came from a Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) done by World Bank, and co-sponsored by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

The urgency of the matter comes at hand after climate models showed a potential a four degree temperature rise—double the initial forecast of a 2 degree Celsius increase before the end of the century—by as early as 2060, according to a new World Bank report released this week.

The Philippines needs to integrate climate change action plans in the national level and local government units to support  vulnerable communities: those engaged in agriculture and fishing, as well as those living along coastal areas and informal settlements, said Cristophe Crepin, sector leader for environment, East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency of the World Bank.

“Climate change is a threat to inclusive growth. In the financial risk statement conducted by the DBM in 2012, we identified climate change as a key source of risk [to economic growth] because the poor are the most vulnerable, fishermen and farmers, to its severe impacts,” said DBM assistant secretary Luz Cantor.

The DBM official added that inclusive growth means prosperity for every Filipino, including poor; it is not a trickle-down effect especially seen in the sectors of agriculture and manufacturing.

From reactive to proactive

The effects of climate change, particularly typhoons, floods, landslides and droughts, easily compromise the country’s development given its devastating and wide-ranging impact on human lives, industries and infrastructure.  

In 2009, the Philippines incurred a loss of $4.38 billion due to tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng. Total recovery and reconstruction costs were pegged at $ 4.42 billion, based on this report.

Among those who saw and luckily, survived the 2009 devastation wrought by Ondoy was Mario Durana, a hog raiser whose house lies along the Laguna de Bay. Despite his concerns on living along the edge of the lake, he says in an internview that his family stays there for their livelihood and daily survival.

Today, even Filipinos not directly affected by the destructive typhoons are feeling the heat from climate change. A Social Weather Stations survey reported that eight in ten Filipinos have experience moderate to severe impacts of climate change although more than half admitted they do not fully understand climate change.

For its part, DBM is mandated to increase budget for disaster responsibility and risk management, allowing for a 26 percent increase in annual allotments for climate efforts since 2008.

Despite this, the Philippines only spends 0.3 percent of its GDP for its climate budget, way below the recommended 2 percent of the GDP, noted Commissioner Lucille Sering of the CCC.

In addition to this, Sering noted that there is a need to review the allocations and fiscal system for the climate funds delivered via local government units, especially in vulnerable communities.

“We need to move from a reactive to a proactive stance when it comes to climate change. For example, the creation of the CCC under the Climate Change Act of 2009 was a reaction to the Ondoy flooding. At the same time, it was a recognition that climate change has cross sectoral implications and there is a need for the government to focus efforts on this,” added Sering.

Of the P13 billion climate fund for this year, about 90 percent is allocated to address flooding and rehabilitation of infrastructure and sector support—signaling a need to further develop the country’s infrastructure to withstand severe impacts of climate change.

Storm surges are projected to affect 14 percent of the country’s population and about 42 percent of coastal populations.

Informal settlers, which account for almost 45 percent of the country’s urban population, are also vulnerable to floods.

The World Bank report also identified provinces that face high risk for disasters due to climate change such as stronger typhoons, flooding and at risk for rainfall change.

Provinces that are tagged high risk for stronger typhoons are Ifugao, La Union, Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, Albay, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Pangasinan and Sorsogon. Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte, Northern Samar, Tarlac, Apayao, Rizal, Benguet, and Camarines Norte.

Areas that can expect heavy flooding include Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Maguindanao, Tarlac, Cagayan, Leyte, North Cotabato and Negros Occidental.

Local capacity building

Another key finding in the report is that the coordination and execution of climate change action falls short due to the lack of clarity and coordination in roles across institutions.

On top of this, monitoring and evaluation systems are not in place to collect and integrate results from different agencies, delaying the evaluation of results across climate programs.

At the local level, community based monitoring program and the Department of Interior and Local Government’s local performance management system serve as starting points for developing such a coordinated system.

Sering noted that there are still knowledge gaps that hinder scaling up of climate change action plans in departments and LGUs.

“Capacity building is needed to ensure the climate funds are allocated appropriately and effectively to carry priority targets,” notes Sering.

As the third most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change, the Philippines, especially those at the grassroots level can create synergy and effective collaboration to address capacity building issues.

Crepin noted the Philippines is one of the countries in Asia, and one of 23 developing countries, to enact climate-related laws.

“Acting on this [climate change] is good in terms of poverty reduction, growth, jobs and benefits for the Philippines,” he said.


Photo by PNEJ member, ANNA VALMERO

Anna Valmero
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Anna Valmero

Social Media and Citizen Journalism at Philippine EnviroNews
Anna Valmero
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