Partners target enhancing climate action in critical watersheds

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Aug. 6 (PNA) — A new project targets further promoting resilience and green growth nationwide by helping improve local government units (LGUs) development planning capabilities to better protect communities from impacts of the changing climate.

Launched Wednesday in Metro Manila, the 2014-2016 Technical Assistance on Climate Resilience and Green Growth in Critical Watersheds project focuses on Lower Marikina, Camarines Sur and Davao Oriental watersheds as authorities consider these “critical” for being major sources of upland and downstream communities’ water.

“In such areas, the dominant force is water,” said Climate Change Commission (CCC) Commissioner and former senator Heherson Alvarez at the launch.

He’s optimistic integrating climate change concerns into the local development planning process will result in environmental sustainability, long-term economic growth and other benefits leading to resiliency and green growth.

UNISDR said resilience is “the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions.”

Green growth is a strategy for ensuring natural assets can deliver respective full economic potential on a sustainable basis, noted OECD.

CCC is the government agency that will implement the project which Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) will finance through Asian Development Bank (ADB).

ADB assured support for the project.

“ADB is concerned about climate change’s effects on its developing member-countries,” the bank’s principal climate change specialist Dr. Ancha Srinivasan said at the launch.

He expects the project to help showcase climate-resilient, green growth options in the three watersheds.

Experts already warned onslaught of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise are climate change’s impacts on the Philippines.

LGUs involved in the project are Lower Marikina watershed’s Quezon City, Marikina City and Cainta municipality in Rizal province; Camarines Sur watershed’s Naga City as well as Milaor and San Fernando municipalities and Davao Oriental watershed’s Boston, Cateel andBanganga municipalities.

The project focuses on LGUs as these are the frontliners in carrying out government’s decentralization bid.

LGUs are also mainly responsible for developing and implementing respective climate change action plans in line with provisions of RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) as well as the country’s Climate Change Strategy Framework and National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).

For the country’s strategic 2011-2028 direction, NCCAP prioritizes food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy and capacity development.

NCCAP also promotes eco-town, a planning unit composed ofmunicipalities or a group of municipalities within and around boundaries of protected areas and key biodiversity areas at high risk for climate change.

Inter-government treaty organization Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) thanked CCC, ADB and JFPR for its involvement in the project.

“It goes without saying that we’re grateful to such institutions for the trust and confidence by giving us the lead in this worthwhile project,” SEARCA Dir. Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr. said at the launch.

He noted the project builds upon gains of the SEARCA-CCC-ADB collaboration on the undertaking that demonstrated the eco-town framework in Upper Marikina river Basin Protected Landscape.

“We hope to cascade such undertaking’s lessons and accomplishments to the Lower Marikina area and expand these to Camarines Sur and Davao Oriental to demonstrate climate resiliency and green growth in watersheds there,” he said.

SEARCA already assembled a team of experts who’ll work on the project.

Among resilience-building and green growth-promoting key activities the project’s proponents earlier identified for implementation are environment and natural resources accounting, gender mainstreaming, knowledge and technology transfer as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) assessment and emission reduction strategic planning.

Experts said GHG emissions accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat there so global temperature rises, resulting in climate change.

During the launch, proponents of the project and other stakeholders concerned signed the commitment to protect Lower Marikina, Camarines Sur and Davao Oriental watersheds.

“We’ll maintain, in operations of our respective institutions, the necessary climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction management interventions to ensure sustainable development and the protection and safety of our people,” the signatories said in their commitment.

Climate change adaptation measures aim to help communities cope with the changing climate’s impacts.

Mitigation measures target reducing GHG emissions. (PNA)