DENR presses for integration of climate adaptation into urban planning

MANILA, (PNA) — Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is pushing for comprehensive development planning in the country to help mitigate the effects of strong typhoons brought about by climate change.

Paje said the need to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into development planning has become increasingly urgent in light of destructive weather disturbances in recent years.

“The best way to mitigate the impacts of changing climate is through proper development planning, especially in urban areas like Metro Manila,” Paje pointed out.

He said the government, not the private sector, should take the lead in the process by providing tools and knowledge to ensure that urban development across the country, both existing and new, is suitably adapted to impacts of climate change.

At the same time, the environment chief noted that the Philippines is already on its way to adopting a 50-year master plan drawn up by the Cabinet cluster on climate change adaptation and mitigation for the country to be more adaptive to climate change and mitigate their negative impacts.

He said the master plan would include the use of geohazard maps to guide local governments in crafting their respective land use plans to ensure that housing developments are not situated in areas prone to landslides and floods, and the conservation of watershed areas to increase their carrying capacities to prevent floods and soil erosion in low-lying areas.

According to Paje, the National Capital Region and surrounding provinces such as Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite are actually well-situated geographically to drain rain water naturally into the Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.

However, Paje said that due to unplanned expansion and incorrect infrastructure, Metro Manila has become prone to floods, which are almost always expected during typhoons or monsoon rains.

“We have allowed buildings to be constructed over our natural waterways, completely covering them and effectively reducing the number of creeks, esteros and rivers in Metro Manila by more than two-thirds, from more than 600 in the 1950s to less than 200 today,” he lamented.

The situation was worsened with heavy siltation and clogging in what is left of the waterways, an “urban thrombosis” where tributaries can no longer accommodate the volume of precipitation that climate change brings, robbing water its “right of way” and causing rivers to swell.

“With the country experiencing urban growth, we really cannot avoid building, but we have to submit to correct urban planning or else we will continue experiencing these calamities,” Paje warned.