Frontlines of climate impacts, forefront of action

2019-05-24T15:28:53+08:0024 May 2019|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Isabella Ann Mendoza

ICSC’s climate policy team, in partnership with CORDAID, has been working closely with the municipalities of Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu; and Coron, Palawan to help develop their local plans in response to the adverse impacts of climate change.

The biggest challenge faced by local government units (LGUs) is establishing definitive connections between our climate vulnerabilities and making sure their future actions are able to directly address it. This is why LGUs are required to come up with a Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) in order to incorporate adaptation and mitigation measures in their programs and projects.

The planning process should be based on climate science, incorporating, in particular, the climate projections from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), to address the specific risks and needs alike of communities.

Guiuan, Santa Fe, and Coron have gone a step further than the LCCAP by working on their Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks (CCAF). The CCAF complements local plans by developing comprehensive and long-term adaptation strategies to help facilitate resource mobilization. Our work has been to help our partner LGUs develop and enhance both their LCCAPs and CCAFs to ensure that good plans receive the funding they deserve.

Municipal LGU department offices, barangay captains and CSO representatives participate in discussions on Climate Science and CRVA © ICSC/Isabella Mendoza, 2018

From what I’ve witnessed so far, there are two things that have strongly facilitated the process for our partners: multi-stakeholder partnerships and sound climate analysis.

Each partner LGU endeavored to take on the challenges of climate change through a participatory, community-based approach. CORDAID’s field officers facilitated a series of intensive multi-day workshops with technical working groups (TWG), which included representatives from local communities, government agencies, civil society organizations and the academe. These platforms have allowed the exchange of valuable information on the local context as well as expertise in various sectors.

One example is from Guiuan and Santa Fe, where Visayas State University (VSU)’s research on slow onset events was able to explain the gravity of sea level rise (SLR) and ocean acidification in their island communities. This opened the way for discussions on much-needed adaptation interventions, such as farmers shifting to more resilient crops or the need to develop more baseline information on existing and problematic fresh and potable water sources.

To understand the relationship of data between the local communities and current climate science, the TWGs pored over pages of information to develop their impact chain analysis (ICA). The ICA framework is a tool that helps build a narrative, beginning with climate projections in local contexts and ending with an assessment of potential biophysical and socioeconomic impacts against the existing local capacities.

In the case of Coron, they collected extensive climate risk and vulnerability assessments through numerous community consultations, which helped them understand how the projected changes would affect their communities as a whole. Through this process, they were able to identify the leading problems they would be facing over the next decades, such as the projected 25% decrease in rainfall and rise in mean temperature, which would exacerbate the municipality’s already prominent challenges in availability and access to water for domestic and agricultural uses.

This part of the process requires the most time and patience from the technical working groups, but in the end, it serves as the foundational basis for creating a strong climate rationale. They are able to invest in learning new and climate-smart agricultural techniques and technologies, better empower local conservation efforts; and rehabilitate key biodiversity areas through organized bantay-dagat (sea patrol) or bantay-gubat (forest ranger) groups.

More than that, it is through the participation of all local stakeholders that enabled them to work together to address their vulnerabilities across all sectors and allow them to chart their own paths to climate resilient and low carbon development. ###

Isabella Ann Mendoza is a climate policy analyst of ICSC.