MANILA – Science- and local-based action plans are crucial in addressing the worsening impacts of climate change in the country.

This was highlighted during the 11th National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) Forum, where members recommended concrete action points to address the 10 leading climate risks in the Philippines.

The 16-member panel laid out strategies and action plans for each of the risks identified to support the national and local governments in formulating and crafting science-based policies.

“In order to deal with and find appropriate and sustainable solutions to the issues caused by the economic and non-economic impacts of climate change, the NPTE members will work together with various entities, such as government agencies, civil society organizations, private and public education institutions, and local government units, to undertake science-based climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction and management action plans,” said Dr. Doracie Zoleta-Nantes, NPTE chairperson.

The forum also became an avenue for local government units (LGUs) to share their experiences in the recent extreme weather events that hit the country.

Leyte 3rd District Rep. Anna Victoria Veloso-Tuazon, vice chairperson of the House of Representatives committee on climate change, shared that the extreme weather events, which have been made worse by climate change, have had a tremendous impact on their local community.

“Our Provincial Disaster Risk Management Plan states that 1,090 of our 1,641 barangays in the 40 municipalities of the province – or 66.4 percent -- are flood susceptible, and 29 of the coastal municipalities, five of which are in my district, and all three cities, are vulnerable to storm surge,” Tuazon said.

The area's basic social services, primary sources of livelihood – agriculture and fishing – as well as infrastructure development are all severely affected by floods and rain-induced landslides.

Flooding is one of the 10 climate-induced risks identified by the NPTE.

Among other risks are rising sea levels; coastal erosion; increasing frequency and severity of tropical cyclones; extreme drought; temperature increase and rising urban heat index; extreme rainfall; climate-influenced diseases; changing wind patterns, and biodiversity loss.

About PHP515.51 billion (USD10.6 billion) in losses and damage have already been attributed to climate risks in the country from 2010 to 2020.

To prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change, Tuazon emphasized the importance of technical advice from local scientists and academicians, especially in the areas of marine spatial planning, riverbank stabilization, agroforestry development, upland reforestation, and mangrove protection and management.

For climate change adaptation, she noted that data gathering is crucial for developing risk management and science-based programs.

“Our discussion of adaptation implies that we know our problem, we have our benchmarks, and can begin crafting policies and the solutions for adaptation because we have the data on which to premise our discussions of loss and damage, and the financial and technological mechanisms to prevent or reduce risk and bounce back immediately,” she added.

In addition, the forum also featured renowned science experts, including Dr. Faye Abigail Cruz who presented highlights of the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Dr. Rosa Perez, who provided an overview of the loss and damage scenario in the Philippines.

The forum brought together state universities and colleges, higher education institutions, local government unit representatives, and various national government agencies, face-to-face and online, to highlight the importance of transforming science into local action toward climate resilience.

“It is imperative that we are able to further build and strengthen local capacities to conduct climate action in different fields. Buhay, kabuhayan, at kinabukasan ang nakataya (Life, livelihood, and the future are at stake),” said Climate Change Commission vice chairperson and executive director Robert EA Borje.

The 11th NPTE Forum held in Novotel Manila on November 23, is part of the commemoration of the 15th Annual Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week (CCC Week 2022).

With the theme “Sama-samang Tumutugon sa Hamon ng Nagbabagong Klima”, CCC Week 2022 draws together various climate change and environment stakeholders in the Philippines in a collective push toward transforming climate change commitments into action for a climate-smart and climate-resilient Philippines. (PR)