Cimatu urges LGUs to invest in climate, risk resiliency projects

<p>Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu <em>(file photo)</em></p>

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu (file photo)

MANILA – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is urging local government units (LGUs) to pursue investments in the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP) to boost the country’s preparedness in mitigating the impact of climate change.

Cimatu, also chair of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR), issued this call as he cited the need to create communities that are better prepared to deal with future disruptions similar to the coronavirus pandemic and climate crisis.

"As we seek to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis and build the resiliency of our communities to the impacts of climate change, investments in the protection and restoration of our environment are imperative so we can deliver significant economic and environmental benefits at a time when both are urgently needed," Cimatu said in a recent virtual meeting on the Risk Resiliency Program-Program Convergence Budgeting (RRP-PCB).

The meeting was participated in by DENR field offices, League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Philippine League of Local Environment and Natural Resources Officers, and Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR member-agencies.

Citing reports, the DENR said 70 percent of cities in the country are already dealing with the effects of climate change.

It also said 90 percent of urban areas are in coastal regions, making them more at risk from sea-level rise and other climate-related threats than others.

"These impacts threaten to undermine decades of developmental milestones. Only through integrating climate and disaster risks, as well as potential opportunities into our development planning and budget can we build resilient and sustainable societies," Cimatu said.

The RRP-PCB is a significant innovation adopted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), provided in the National Budget Memorandum No. 138, Series of 2021, to provide an opportunity to strengthen convergence among national government agencies and support in scaling up climate response.

The RRP, formulated by the CCAM-DRR Cabinet Cluster is the government's program in improving the resilience of the country's natural systems and the adaptability of the communities living in climate hazard vulnerable provinces and major urban areas.

These include Masbate, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Siquijor, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo, and Metro Davao.

Priority is given to these areas with high poverty incidence rates and are heavily exposed to climate hazards.

The DENR enjoined the LGUs to consider in their plans and budget allocation the key investments under the RRP, such as community livelihood and enterprise continuity project, integrated water resources management project, enhancing coastal protection project, climate information services, and seismic resiliency.

During the meeting, DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems, and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh explained the policy actions and strategies in the environment and natural resources sector as outlined in the paper, "Towards a Water-Secure and Resilient Philippines".

To be able to achieve resiliency, Rebuelta-Teh said there is a need to streamline the management of health care and infectious wastes, especially at the community and household levels.

She also said the protection and conservation of natural resources, especially in degraded hot spots and critical ecosystems, should be prioritized.

Water security, especially in Covid-19 pandemic-affected areas, should be ensured, Rebuelta-Teh added.

She pointed out that these policy actions are aligned with the priorities and strategies set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. (PR)