QUEZON CITY, 29 March 2021 – Access and accountability in climate finance should go hand in hand to address existing and emerging impacts brought by climate change and COVID-19, experts from the United Nations, Philippine government, civil society, and the private sector said in a recent webinar.

“We have to consider this pandemic as an opportunity where we can rethink and to look far beyond that we integrate sustainability and resilience in our recovery plans,” Commissioner Rachel Herrera of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said last Friday in the third installment of Climate Change and COVID-19: Adapting to Two New Normals, organized by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Manila and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

Herrera cited the Sustainable Finance Framework of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the climate budget-tagging of government agencies led by the Department of Budget and Management with CCC. She also stressed the importance of mobilizing climate finance for nature-based solutions.

Kairos Dela Cruz, ICSC deputy executive director and climate finance head, said a unified, country-led monitoring system puts the Philippines in a better position to access more finance.

“If you are demand-driven in terms of accessing climate finance, country ownership would be higher and projects would be more sustainable,” he said.

The COVID crisis has boosted the attention to disaster risk finance and the issue of confounding risk in the international arena, according to Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) associate project manager Viktoria Seifert.

“Through multi-actor partnerships, the Philippines can push a regional perspective to ensure that the international development community takes into account your perspective when you speak about premium financing,” she said.

“To address the needs of developing countries is urgent, and will continue to be urgent,” said Grant Kirkman of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat.

Accessing climate finance in the local context

The People’s Survival Fund Board chaired by the Department of Finance has so far approved P310.34 million worth of adaptation projects by six municipalities: Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte; Lanuza, Surigao del Sur; San Francisco, Camotes Island, Cebu; Gerona, Tarlac; Sarangani Province; and Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

In the webinar, LGU officials from Lanuza, Gerona, and Surigao del Norte shared their stories in accessing climate finance for their localities in the webinar, echoing the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, nature-based solutions, and accountability.

Lanuza, Surigao del Sur’s environment and natural resources officer, Melchor John Largo, shared the experience of their LGU as one of the lobbyists for PSF, the first nationally legislated climate adaptation fund. Because of drought, floods, and rain-induced landslides in their municipality, Lanuza focused on educating indigenous groups on adaptive measures to climate change.

“Knowing that a well-managed environment can shield them from disastrous impacts would help them understand the bigger role the community has to take part – from being resource users to being good resource managers,” Largo said.

Surigao del Norte assistant planning and development coordinator Jonathan Litang emphasized the integral role of the academe in crafting climate finance proposals and pursuing research on climate impacts amid the pandemic, resulting in climate-smart and evidence-based solutions towards resilience.

Focusing on accountability, Gerona, Tarlac’s municipal planning and development officer, Victor Castañeda, said that no matter how big or small the funds allocated to the community, it is important to use these funds smartly to convince the national government that such programs on climate change are worth sustaining.

Local climate and disaster risk finance and insurance providers should let LGUs know what is accessible for them, added Rose Abanto of CARD Pioneer Microinsurance. “Having LGUs as part of the equation and involving them in product and approach exploration may be the key to coming up with a product relevant to our target users.”

“Local governments, through improving development planning, tracking climate-related expenditures, enable them to continue mobilizing resources anchored on the need to adapt,” ICSC climate governance head Rex Barrer remarked.

Climate Change and COVID-19: Adapting to Two New Normals is a three-part webinar series organized by the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines and ICSC as part of the global Climate Adaptation Summit in 2021. For more details, visit http://bit.ly/CAS21climatecovid19.

AC Dimatatac, media@icsc.ngo, +63 998 546 9788, +63 917 851 4890