2020 National RAC-Partners-EAP MeetingPosted on November 19, 2020
In order to better respond to the intensifying crisis on climate and biodiversity, FPE decided to adopt the theme: #Climate and Biodiversity Crisis: Realities, Reflections, and Actions for its major CSO consultative event held every two years—the National Regional Advisory Committee (RAC)-Partners-Experts Advisory Pool (EAP) Meeting.
Participated in by partner non-government organizations/peoples’ organizations (NGOs/POs), FPE Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) members, FPE Expert Advisory Pool (EAP) members, the meeting was held on March 10-12, 2020 at Waterfront Insular Hotel, Lanang, Davao City. Through this activity, environmental stewards and advocates come together to learn and exchange information and tools and insights on national and local initiatives related to biodiversity and sustainable development; and expand networks among participants to diversify areas of expertise or gain potential partners on field operations.
The welcome message was delivered by Hon. Danilo C. Dayanghirang, on behalf of Hon. Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City. Dr. Renato C. Boniao, FPE Chairperson, provided the opening remarks. He emphasized that this national gathering is platform for the FPE to be able to set review and prioritize the Foundation’s environmental agenda for the next years or so. The keynote address was delivered by Sec. Emmanuel de Guzman of Climage Change Commission (CCC). He highlighted that the global temperature should not go more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, or else natural and human ecosystems will have experience irreparable effects. Building on the discussion of Sec. de Guzman, Atty. Rachel Ann Herrera, Commissioner of CCC, detailed the climate change realities and na- tional responses and actions. Following this, Dr. Rodel Lasco, a renowned expert on biodiversity and climate change, presented the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. He pointed out that, climate change and biodiversity support each other – that is, in addressing climate change, biodiversity should not be left out of context.
Discussions with FPE Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and partners on climate change initiatives and project portfolio development of Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other climate financing mechanisms were also conducted. This was followed by a session on advancing of Regional Environmental Agenda (REA) and showcasing some of the good practices of the CSOs in relation to climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.
Business meetings were also done to discuss matters on FPE governance. The first business meeting is the Regional Consultative Group (RCG) meetings, which generated nominees for the new RAC members and recommendations for new Board of Trustees (BOT). While, the second business meeting was RAC meeting, which discussed the regional concerns and proposed amendments to the FPE by-laws.
Dr. Renato Boniao, FPE Chair and CEO, delivered the opening remarks of the activity. He emphasized that the activity will serve as platform for the “FPE to be able to set the environmental agenda for the next years or so”.
The following were the outcomes and/or outputs of the recently concluded activity:
1) Shared Information and generated knowledge products on climate change at the national and local levels;
2) Proposed FPE portfolio on climate change adaptation and mitigation, and support mechanism;
3) Reported progress on institutional activities, including sharing on the REA;
4) Agreed amendments on the FPE by-laws;
5) Recommended BOT and RAC nominees; and
6) Visited FPE-funded sites or other stakeholders’ areas and held interactions with local counterparts who are engaged in urban resilience, species protection, and climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.
As greenhouse gas (GHG) increase in compelling amounts, the global warms at an alarming rate. It causes change in climatic factors such as increase in temperature, change in rainfall patterns, sea level rise, etc. Sea level rise as a result of the melting ice sheets and glaciers and expansion of seawater as it warms1. In the Philippines, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has projected that sea level will rise by 20 centimeters under a high-emission scenario,
The participants presented the environmental issues and concerns that are currently happening in their communities and regions. when no action to counter the climate change will be done. In 2015, the Paris Agreement, a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future2, was signed by all partner nations to globally campaign for urgent action on climate change. The central aim of the Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Today, aside from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that infected the economy of the Philippines, climate change is still by far the most worrisome concern of the country, according to Dr. Renato D. Boniao, FPE CEO and Chairperson. There is no denying that the Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change for many reasons. First, the Philippines belongs to the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the oceanic Philippine plate and several smaller micro-plates are subducting. It is the main reason why ground shaking and earthquake activities are common. Second, compared to other countries, the Philippines has warmer sea surface given its location above the equator. Studies show that warmer seas nurture storms, making them more intense and stronger. An average of 20 typhoons, originating from Northwest Pacific Ocean, and 19-20 cyclones, South Pacific and Indian Ocean, visit the country each year. Third, composed of approximately 7,107 islands, majority of its communities are built along the coastlines. According to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), 60 percent of local governments reside along coastal areas. These include 64 provinces out of the 81 in total; 822 municipalities out of 1,488; and 25 major cities out of 146 cities. Most of these coastal communities have poor population; inadequate housing; unstable employment; poor buildings, road network and other utilities and infrastructures; no local policies on climate and change and disaster risk response; weak government institutions and networks. Such communities are going to be most the affected by climate change.
Dr. Rodel Lasco, in his presentation, mentioned that climate change is interconnected with biodiversity. Although, little attention has been paid to the latter – in terms of research and funding, and media coverage. Geographically situated within the coral triangle, where there is high marine biodiversity, the Philippines is highly vulnerable to loss of marine biodiversity mainly due to the climate change. As seas go warmer, coral reefs may unlikely be able to survive because of acidification and coral bleaching. As a result, there is an expected significant decrease in number fish species. Although some species may be able to adapt to the changing climate conditions, some would vanish. A World Bank study estimates that fish catch in the whole Southeast Asia will drop by half in 2051-2060 as climate change persists. As far as fisherfolks are concerned, this may result in significant reduction of fish catch, thereby affecting communities that greatly depend on it. The same is also true for terrestrial biodiversity. For- ests, wetlands and deserts where animal, plants and micro-organisms live and thrive are being subject to anthropogenic and climate change threats. Unsustainable activities, which are commonly practiced in the Philippines, include mining, deforestation, land conversion, logging, and human encroachment. Such are the major causes of habitat destruction leading to biodiversity loss. And, when these are combined with climate change, this will create an unimaginable disaster to our common home.
On biodiversity research, Dr. Lasco stated that, a model study revealed that there is a correlation that mangroves are effective in dealing with storm surge; and these mangroves are more effective than concrete barriers. Given this, the challenge is that, biodiversity will change with climate change. Understanding the interaction between the two through research is key on how the Filipinos can appropriately respond to this climate emergency.
Climate change make dry days become drier and wet days become wetter. This major gathering has emphasized that climate and biodiversity realities are not new. Climate and biodiversity issues have by far triggered the crafting of national laws and policies. These include the: a) Philippine Clean Air Act for reducing black carbon; b) Renewable Energy Act for promoting clean and sustainable energy; Climate Change Act of 2009 for strengthening climate governance, and created the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) for financing local climate change adaptation projects; c) National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 for ensuring ecosystems integrity; d) Philippine Green Jobs Act of 2016 for pursuing just transition to a green economy; e) Energy Efficiency and Conser- vation Act of 2019 for effective and efficient judicious use of energy.
The grandiose Build, Build, Build program launched in 2018 by the present administration had raised some concerns on establishing infrastructure while contradicting the protection and conservation agenda for the environment. To balance this, the Green, Green, Green! program has also been launched by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in that same year. This program allocates budget for the improvement forest parks, arboretum, and botanical gardens; livability of urban areas through various activities and methods such as landscaping, turfing, and tree planting; and enhancement of streetscapes through installation of eco-friendly street furniture, fixtures, and shading of the cities nationwide3
Although, laws and policies are in place, access to funds still remains to be an obstacle that hinders the local governments to utilize it. To date, only six (6) projects with local governments have accessed the PSF. These are: 1) San Francisco, Camotes Island, Cebu (Building Resiliency through Ecological-based Farming); 2) Gerona, Tarlac (Promoting Resiliency and a Climate-Informed Gerona); 3) Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte (Establishment and Sustainable Management of River Ecosystems); 4) Del Carmen, Siargao Island (Siargao Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolk; 5) Lanuza, Surigao del Sur (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management [Ridge-to-Reef] as an Adaptation Mechanism to Resiliency); and 6) Province of Sarangani (Saub Watershed Ecosystem Rehabilitation and Flood Risk Reduction for Increased Resilience).
The “Gallery of Civil Society Organization (CSO) Actions” is one the activities conducted in the meeting which helped for the FPE and participants reflect and realize the current environment situation in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and how to effectively and efficiently respond to these. The matrix has three sections: 1) Realities, which aimed to characterize the different ecosystems such as upland-terrestrial; lowland-terrestrial; and coastal-marine; 2) Drivers, which determined the main possible factors that contributed to the situation/s identified; 3) Actions, which proposed solutions through the conduct of programs, projects and activities to the driver/s or factor/s identified.
Among the solutions highlighted is that, to be able to create synergy with national government and CSOs/NGOs/POs, the local governments must be capable of crafting development plans that are backed by data science and based on evidence. Such plans when translated into programs, projects, and activities can be funded. The limited knowledge of local governments on climate change and biodiversity is seen to be one of the deterrents on why they are not able to prepare development plans that respond to the climate and environment-related issues being raised. That is why, the roles not only of the CSOs, NGOs, POs, and research and academic institutions are vital but also the Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Their inputs, technical expertise, and networks can complement the needs of local governments. These, in turn, can advance the environmental agenda forward.
Overall, there is a general reflection that climate change crisis has spiked in the last 10 to 15 years, while hardly a few talks about the predicament on biodiversity have been made. While funding is made available through PSF after it was made available in 2009 by virtue of Climate Change Act, only six (6) local governments have accessed this. Moreover, a consensus on the use of ecosystems-based approach to climate change adaptation was also suggested for FPE to adopt. It is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to acclimatize to the adverse effects of climate change4
Among the solutions highlighted is that, to be able to create synergy with national government and CSOs/ NGOs/POs, the local governments must be capable of crafting development plans that are backed by data science and based on evidence. Such plans when translated into programs, projects, and activities can be funded. The limited knowledge of local governments on climate change and biodiversity is seen to be one of the deterrents on why they are not able to prepare development plans that respond to the climate and environment-related issues being raised. That is why, the roles not only of the CSOs, NGOs, POs, and research and academic institutions are vital FPE forges commitment with development partners in realizing the Climate and Biodiversity Crisis. but also the Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Their inputs, technical expertise, and networks can complement the needs of local governments. These, in turn, can advance the environmental agenda forward.
FPE’s partner Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from different regions showcase their initiatives, projects and activities that respond to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
During the activity, the FPE RAC Coordinators emphasized that the course of actions should be guided by framework and principle. Innovation and creativity are also key ingredients for a successful project. Complementing a values-based approach is the need for convergence with other organizations and networks. In this way, FPE is not only able to hone relationships with other organizations and networks to provide counterpart resources but also can act fast on responding to climate and biodiversity realities.
The CCC, the government-mandated institution to lead policies, programs, and projects on climate change, has been active on establishing various platforms for local governments, business sector, and academe. Responses in the national level are as follows:
1) The Communities of Resilience for capacity building for local government units (LGUs) to up-date and strengthen their local plans and ensure that such plans are based on data and science.
2) For the business sector, the Climate Investment Network, composed of banks, financial institutions and key players, aims to increase the total climate investments of the Philippines.
3) For the academe, there is the Philippine Academic Network for Climate Resilience comprising of state colleges and universities (SUCs) and other higher education institutions (HEIs) and other research and academic institutions. In this way, the CCC will be able to establish networks for efficiency of coordination among partners. Funds support from international and local development partners may be coursed through these networks. The CCC is also preparing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which is a document required to all parties engaged in the Paris Agreement. It serves a reference document for investments on innovative and transformative low-carbon projects.
Aside from the CCC, the Department of the Finance (DOF) is leading the creation of an executive order for Green Sustainable Financing. While, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently requiring private corporations for sustainability reporting, which requires disclosure of portfolio relating to sustainability.
To come up with a better response portfolio responding to climate change, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, the FPE is also in talks with the CCC about knowledge management, policy, and advocacy. Activities on the two measures of global warming, as mentioned by Dr. Lourdes Simpol, 1) mitigation and 2) adaptation should be contextually planned and executed.
There are many issues, challenges, and opportunities raised during the activity. It is a good thing that environmental stewards, advocates, and policy-making influencers come together and talk about directions on how to move forward. For instance, the suggestion to provide training for CSOs on writing proposals was well noted. In fact, it is now being conducted by FPE. In this way, CSOs can prepare proposals that the FPE can fund.
A ceremonial signing took place during the meeting forging the commitment of FPE with development partners on the climate change and biodiversity crisis.
At the end of the day, caring for the environment is more cost effective than engineered solutions. Our effort must also take into consideration the people who are most vulnerable to the effects of the climate change. The call then is for the convergence of effort in combating the climate and biodiversity crisis.
Group photo of FPE Staff during the 2020 National RAC-Partners-EAP Meeting held in March 10-12, 2020 at Waterfront Insular Hotel, Lanang, Davao City
For more stories, please click this link to read the FPE 2020 Annual Report