TACLOBAN CITY, March 22, 2024 – Government officials from Eastern Visayas have underscored the critical role of renewable energy (RE) in humanitarian and disaster response and supported its institutionalization in the local development plans of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays in the region.

“It has been a long dream for humanitarian action to really come to know about renewable energy as an alternative for disaster emergency response. I know this will not only cover actions on humanitarian aspects, but this will also cover the entire operation of any local government, business, or economic enterprise,” said Ildebrando Bernadas, head of the Tacloban City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), in his welcome remarks during the Renewable Energy for Humanitarian Action (RE4HA) Marketplace and Summit on March 19 to 20, 2024.

“Renewable energy is essential for humanitarian action and DRR… for various humanitarian activities, disaster response, and establishment of resilience,” said Atty. Jam Colas, Assistant Regional Director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Region VIII Office.

Atty. Colas noted that integrating RE in humanitarian action and DRR aligns with the goals and thrusts of the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2023-2028, by helping promote human capital and social development, establish livable communities, expand and upgrade infrastructure, and accelerate climate action and strengthen disaster resilience in the region. 

“Eastern Visayas is a leader in RE generation, and that makes us very proud. It is important that renewable energy is in the strategies identified in our regional development plan. While we are doing our share, we will not be able to move forward without the contributions of everyone. Let us work together to attain these targets,” she added.

Organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), in partnership with Oxfam Pilipinas, the RE4HA Marketplace and Summit gathered representatives from government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, humanitarian actors, academic institutions, women’s organizations, and RE developers to discuss RE services and business models that can be adopted in Eastern Visayas. Technologies and solutions presented by national and local RE developers and providers to multi-actor stakeholders in the Summit ranged from small photovoltaic (PV) systems, solar generators, solar water pumps, RE microgrids, and solar-powered desalination and purifying systems, aiming to have them implemented accordingly in the region based on locals’ humanitarian and DRR energy needs.

The event was preceded by a series of workshops held with local government, civil society organizations, and humanitarian actors in Salcedo, Eastern Samar and Tacloban City, Leyte, from February to early March this year to assess their perspective on business models and formulate solutions and recommendations from their experience on adopting RE in humanitarian action and DRR. 

The workshop findings were presented by ICSC’s Director for Community Resilience Arturo Tahup during the Summit, where he identified three priorities that can contribute to the effective integration of RE in humanitarian action, DRR, and local development, which include:

  1. Building on appropriate RE technologies and best practices, in order to eventually move away from the overreliance on fossil fuels; 
  2. Regular training and mentoring of locals; and
  3. Strengthening the capacity of local communities to manage and sustain RE initiatives.

“Local governments, government agencies, civil society organizations, RE developers  and private businesses, academic institutions, and media can all have significant contributions to institutionalizing RE in humanitarian action efforts. These multi-actor partnerships are the magic wand that make these initiatives innovative and solid. We must work together to bring forth the big shift in humanitarian action in selected frontline communities in Eastern Visayas,” Tahup added.

Eastern Visayas has been at the forefront of climate change impacts, including extreme weather events such as typhoons and extreme heat and slow onset impacts such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, and saltwater intrusion. The region’s off-grid and isolated areas do not have 24/7 access to electricity, and the lack of access to reliable and sustainable energy is prominent across Eastern Visayas during disasters, negatively impacting the delivery of essential emergency services to frontline communities.

“Having [RE sources such as] solar power in every barangay will have a significant impact in the lives of the people and communities. It can contribute to the communities’ safety and security measures, as well as communication efforts. We can effectively coordinate our response and give timely updates to command posts and government agencies, as well as receive proper guidance from the CDRRMO [during emergencies],” said Liga ng mga Barangay ng Tacloban Vice President Raymund Balagapo.

“Renewable energy brings hope to disaster survivors: hope that they are not alone, hope that they are not forgotten, hope that there are people and organizations that are there to help. Renewable energy ticks all the boxes on disaster management, and now it is up to us to apply it in our plans and response efforts,” said Lord Byron Torrecarion, Regional Director of the Office of Civil Defense Region VIII Office.

Access the event photos through this link: https://bit.ly/RE4HA-Photos 

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a climate and energy policy group based in the Philippines that promotes climate resilience and low-carbon development.

Sanaf Marcelo, ICSC: media@icsc.ngo, +63 968 886 3466, +63 917 149 5649


Photos (c) Sanaf Marcelo/ICSC