by Martin Sadongdong | March 30, 2022 | Published by Manila Bulletin | READ THE STORY HERE

Like insurgency, terrorism, and maritime disputes, the national government should address environmental challenges with the same intensity as solving security issues to ease its worsening impact on the lives of the Filipinos, a think tank has disclosed.

Stratbase ADR Institute President Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit said that global warming, climate change, and other environmental issues “[affect] the security of states and the welfare of our people.” “This underscores the importance of fostering cooperation to address these emerging challenges with the same urgency as conventional security threats,” he noted.

The Stratbase ADRI recently organized a virtual town hall discussion titled “Convergence of Health and Environment in Shaping the Strategic Policy Agenda of the Next Administration.” There, Manhit said that environmental challenges have undermined the country’s capacity to respond to crises and emergencies, hence, the need to elect leaders who have the guts and the heart to face such a gigantic problem.

“While Filipinos are no stranger to the effect of exogenous shocks, we recognize that a critical step in addressing this is to choose well the next set of leaders in the 2022 elections,” said Manhit.

For Renato Redentor Constantino, one of the reactors and executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), climate change should be seriously addressed by the next administration since it could affect the capability of a government to respond to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

“We need to stop looking at climate change as an environmental problem. We should stop our fixation on disasters. We must also look at local hunger, poverty incidence, forest fires, slow onset climate effects if these will have an impact in the future. We need to look at how we deliver responsive services, and how our different tiers in government will respond to our situation,” Constantino said.

Meanwhile, researchers Dr. Toby Melissa Monsod, Sara Jane Ahmed, and Golda Hilario launched a special paper during the town hall discussion titled “Accelerating Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation: Strengthening the Philippines’ Contribution to Limit Global Warming and Cope with its Impacts.”

The authors proposed that the government must pursue measures that are anchored on climate change adaptation and resilience, and those which find context in sustainable development instead of the usual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategy.

Such strategy, according to the authors, would be a more effective approach for a country that is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change despite having a relatively small carbon footprint like the Philippines.

“Robust community ownership of climate action, a necessary condition for any successful pursuit of climate-smart low-carbon development, will follow more easily from dedicated investments and targeted market interventions to build local resilience; the same cannot be said for campaigns to reduce GHG emissions,” said Monsod, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ (UP) School of Economics.

Photo: Corn farmer Estrella Cabildo tries to harvest what is left of her cornfield in Alcala town, Cagayan province three days after Typhoon Mangkhut. 25 million pesos worth crops was wasted as TyMangkhut/Ompong pummeled northern Luzon in September 2018. This means the farmers’ debts to lenders remained unpaid and this paved for hard times ahead. Farmers need technical assistance and climate information to adapt or transform livelihoods. AC Dimatatac/ICSC