QUEZON CITY, November 22, 2023 – The Board of the People’s Survival Fund (PSF), chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF), approved five climate change adaptation projects endorsed by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) last October 23, amounting to a total of PHP 540.3 million. 

In the 20th meeting of the PSF Board, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) presented seven projects from the first batch of PSF proposals recommended for approval by the CCC. Among these proposals, five were approved – specifically Mountain Province; Maramag, Bukidnon; Catanauan, Quezon; Cabagan, Isabela; and Borongan, Eastern Samar – one was deferred (Sadanga, Mountain Province), and one was recommended to access the Project Development Grant, a sub-financing window of PSF (Besao, Mountain Province).

In time for this year’s National Climate Change Consciousness Week, Manila-based think tank Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) published the proceedings of the 20th Board Meeting of the PSF, providing detailed discussions that transpired during the meeting, including the decisions that led to the approval of the PSF projects. 

Angelo Kairos dela Cruz, ICSC Executive Director and Alternate NGO sector representative to the PSF Board, also said in response: 

As advocates for enhanced direct access of local communities to climate finance, we are heartened by the Board’s decision to approve five of the six projects recommended from the submissions during the call for proposals in first and second quarter of 2023. These initiatives are pivotal in aiding Filipino communities to adapt to the escalating impacts of climate change.

However, we express our concern about the prioritization process employed by the PSF Board Secretariat in this approval cycle. Given the Fund’s mandate to reduce poverty in local government units, especially those from lower economic classes, ICSC believes that it is imperative to question the thinking behind the prioritization of proposals from one first-class city, three first-class municipalities, and one province. We highlighted this concern during the board meeting, underscoring the need for transparency, fairness, and equity in the selection and prioritization process.

Over the years, approved PSF proposals, except for a few, have mostly leaned towards infrastructure development as the more conventional approach. In this regard, we believe it is crucial for the Board to expand its assistance to LGUs by promoting and giving preference to proposals that prioritize alternative interventions, such as ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). This shift can address the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change by implementing adaptation strategies with co-benefits to climate mitigation and disaster risk reduction (DRR). By taking this approach, the PSF can assume a more proactive role in building resilience, protecting ecosystems, and promoting a more sustainable future.

We remain optimistic about the continued growth and positive impact of the PSF and trust that our concerns were heard by our fellow PSF board members. ICSC also welcomes the new PSF Board Chair-designate Usec. Maria Luwalhati C. Dorotan Tiuseco, who was exceptional in leading the discussions during the last board meeting. We are confident that the PSF will achieve its objectives and bring about change that will help our most vulnerable communities.

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based climate and energy policy group advancing climate resilience and low-carbon development.

Sanafe Marcelo, ICSC: media@icsc.ngo, +63968 886 3466, +63917 149 5649