Representatives from the Philippine and German governments on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a €36 million ($42.2 million) technical assistance agreement to address the effects of climate change in the Philippines.
Present at the signing were Environment Undersecretary Analzia Teh; Climate Change Commission (CCC) commissioners Naderev Saño and Heherson Alvarez; Senator Edgardo Angara; Presidential Assistant for Climate Change Sec. Elizabeth "Bebet" Gozon; the German Embassy in Manila's Chargé de Affaires, Ralph Timmerman; the German Federal Ministry for the Environment's International Climate Initiative representative, Norbert Goriβen; and German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellenschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Principal Advisor, Dr. Bernd-Markus Liss.
GIZ is an organization commissioned by the German government to dispense technical assistance to the Philippines and the Pacific region.
“Germany is committed to assist the Philippines, but there are many things that have yet to be done,” said Secretary Mary Ann Sering, CCC vice chairperson, in a video message.
According to Saño, the technical assistance —equivalent to P1.76 billion— shall go towards projects that include climate change mitigation, adaptation, and environmental protection. He explained in an interview that the money will not actually be transferred to the CCC but will come in form of technical assistance.
The partnership will be a "3-year engagement, at least for now," said Saño.
He added that, while climate change is a long-term issue, there is the clear need for the government to address its immediate effects.
Meanwhile, Teh said that they intend to select at least three local government units for assistance in developing climate change adaptation programs, ranging from comprehensive land use to effects mitigation.
"We intend to deliver the fund on a 'call-for-proposal' basis," said Liss, who said that the GIZ is interested to support programs that are relevant to their goal of helping mitigate the impact of climate change.
Addressing climate change in PHL
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change.
In the 2011 report of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, the Philippines ranked third —next to Vanuatu and Tonga— in the top ten countries facing the highest risk to climate change. The other countries in the top ten include the Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and El Salvador.
The risk index report analysed each country’s exposure to disasters such as storms, floods, earthquake, droughts, and sea level rise.
Furthermore, Saño warned that drought and flood pose risk on agricultural production.
Saño mentioned in his presentation that rice yields in the Philippines might decline up to 75 percent by 2100.
Citing other studies showing the impact of climate change and rising water levels on the country, Saño said the Philippines needs to “tackle the root causes of all our problems, (including) climate change disaster risks.”
“It is imperative for the country to enhance adaptive capacity,” he warned.
Despite numerous parallel efforts to address climate change in the Philippines, the CCC is “sole policy-making body of the government tasked to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the programs the government is taking in relation to climate change,” according to their website.
The main causes of impact of climate change in the country are our “environmental, economic and social unsustainability,” he said.
“Climate change must be addressed by the Philippines as an opportunity,” Saño stressed.
The representatives from the German government said that they look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with the Philippines.
“I think our benefit is that we can establish good relations with the Philippines,” said Goriβen. He also said that this initiative, if successful could serve as a template for other countries to follow suit.
Liss, for his part, said, “We are all part of global community. We benefit from our mandate to promote sustainable development through technical cooperation projects (like this).”
Goriβen pointed out that the Philippines is one of countries most vulnerable to climate change, but which also has a rich potential for renewable energy —hydroelectric and geothermal— that could be harnessed for sustainable development.
He also said that the International Climate Change Initiative encompasses more than just mitigation and adaptation; among its major undertakings is biodiversity protection —of which there are at least nine bilateral projects being undertaken in the Philippines.
These projects aim to raise public awareness and adaptability to climate change, as well as to enhance citizens' employment and livelihood opportunities for the citizens.
“Our focus is on relevance and result,” Goriβen said.
“(W)e have had strong weather events even before climate change (became an issue). Huwag nating hintayin na for our climate change plan to kick in (before we take action),” Saño concluded
— TJD, GMA News