MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo approved on Wednesday a landmark policy that sets a 12-year action plan that would help the country be resilient and adapt to the deadly effects of climate change.
Mrs. Arroyo signed the National Framework Strategy and Program on Climate Change in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan during a meeting of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), which she chairs.
The strategic plan is believed to be the first in Southeast Asia and was signed a month early than what is set by the Climate Change Act or Republic Act 9729, as climate negotiators worldwide gear up for fresh rounds of talks in June to achieve a legally binding agreement to aggressively confront climate change and its impact on the human race.
CCC vice chairman Heherson Alvarez said the framework aims to turn the Philippines into a climate-resilient country through climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
The 38-page document also envisions a country with “healthy, safe, prosperous and self-reliant communities, and thriving and productive ecosystems.”
“The framework highlights the critical aspect of climate change adaptation, which will be applied to all levels of governance – from city to municipal down to the barangay level,” Alvarez said.
“The aspiration is to build the adaptive capacity of communities in the country, increase the resilience of our natural ecosystems to climate change, and optimize the country’s mitigation opportunities toward sustainable development,” he added.
The document does not detail specific steps but sets the strategic direction the government, the private sector and the general public would follow to come up with their precise programs to address the effects of climate change.
The CCC said the document was formulated within the context of the country’s sustainable development goals and governance and institutional factors that affect the country’s ability to respond to climate change.
It recognized that the changing climate conditions will have “a myriad of impacts and underscore the vulnerabilities in all sectors of society and the economy.”
The CCC said the country’s adaptation to climate change would require resources and the cooperation of all sectors.
“Addressing climate change, therefore, moves beyond the environmental challenges and will have to be closely linked with economic targets and social sustainability,” the document read.
It said increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, sea level rise, and extreme weather events form the backdrop upon which the Philippines endeavors to pursue its development goals.
It pointed out that these factors affect key sectors such as ecosystems, food, water, human health, infrastructure, energy, and human society.
Sustainable development, on the other hand, greatly impinges on the capacity of the country to adapt to the impact of and address vulnerabilities to climate change, it said.
The CCC is preparing to launch a nationwide information and education campaign to bring closer the issue of climate change to the people. –-Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) with Michael Punongbayan