Localizing climate research

By Angelo Kairos Dela Cruz

The Philippine Climate Change Assessment released last year shows observed changes in sea level rise and sea surface temperature change across the country from 1981 to 2014, but also emphasized the lack of local information on both factors as well as on climate science and impacts in general. ICSC aims to fill this gap together with our academic partners.

We have been trying to build a network with local academic institutions since we launched our first report on slow onset climate impacts in 2015. Just last week, this network extended its reach to all the major island groups in the country. And it will break even more new ground in the coming months by coming up with a series of localized review of available research on slow onset impacts in these major island groups.

We have already partnered with Benguet State University, University of South Eastern Philippines, and Xavier University, and last March 3, we inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Visayas State University (VSU).

VSU has a group of experts working on coastal and marine research covering the Leyte Island. Through its newly-established Regional Climate Change Research and Development Centre, the university with ICSC will explore the impacts of rising and prolonged sea surface temperature, strong typhoons, and sea level rise on coastal communities, as well as identify adaptation strategies to climate change.

We have pushed for official partnerships with our academic partners because they are within the proximity of the most vulnerable localities in the country. Being closer to the front lines increases the probability that the research needed by local governments and communities in accessing climate funds such as the People’s Survival Fund are already available in our partners’ libraries. Having direct links to the sources of information empower those who are eagerly looking for information that would guide them in their efforts to plan better. Moreover, our partners are also on the front lines of climate impacts themselves.

If working with these partners would force us to dive into the geeky and disciplined world of academia, so be it. The localized climate research we are coming up with can help ensure that slow onset impacts are not left behind in discussions, planning, and budgeting. Together we will aim to bridge the gap between climate policy and research in the country.