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Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Management Initiatives in the Philippines

For its geographical location, the Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, and floods, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. More than 60% of its land area is vulnerable to multiple hazards, and approximately 75% of its population is vulnerable to their impact. Over the past decade, it averaged 19 climate-related disasters each year, many fatalities, and enormous economic costs. For most Filipinos, living with natural disasters has become a way of life.

In contrast to a more effective proactive approach, which avoids disasters through appropriate land-use planning, construction, high-tech devices, and other pre-event measures that prevent the creation of disaster-prone conditions. To evolve to a more proactive role, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) unveiled new “game-changing” innovations to aid the country’s disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts.

Listed are a few of the projects that will be implemented by the DOST-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA):

  • Development of Prediction and Warning System on Sub-Seasonal Scale of Extreme Events Associated with Monsoon in the Philippines (MonsoonPH)
  • Development of high-resolution observation-based gridded sub-daily climate data for the Philippines (ClimGridPH)
  • Enhancement of Typhoon and Tropical Cyclone (TC)-Related Monsoon Surge Monitoring and Forecasting, and Wave Observation and Modelling
  • RADAR and Disdrometer Data Application and High-Resolution QPF for Complex Terrain
  • Sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) prediction of climate extremes

The University of the Philippines – National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) also served as a key implementing arm of the DOST-PCIEERD funded projects on Disaster Risk Reduction (DDR) application sector which includes:

  • Marine and onshore geophysical investigations of the Manila subduction zone
  • Evolution of the Luzon Arc: From igneous to sedimentary processes
  • Tectonic consequences of subduction in Northern Luzon

Two other projects are currently underway which is the Influence of surface and subsurface processes in karst degradation and its implications for sustainable tourism, and Integrated Characterisation, Quantitative Assessment, and Statistical Modelling for Geologic Hazards in Karst Landscapes in the Philippines — are implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resource-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB).

DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director expressed hope that the projects that focus on hydrometeorological and seismic-related hazards “will change the Philippines for the better.”

“We envision these projects to sprout innovations, development, and opportunities that will spur inclusive growth.,” he said. He also expressed the Council’s readiness to fund projects that aim to strengthen disaster mitigation in the country.

“DOST-PCIEERD is committed to supporting more cost-efficient, smart technologies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation,” he added. As per the Council’s top official, DOST has consistently allocated funding for disaster risk reduction and climate change over the last decade, totalling nearly P5 billion for 226 projects.

Aside from technologies and innovations that aid in climate change adaptation, the Philippine government has also put in place the national disaster risk reduction and management plan (NDRRMP). A plan that serves as a national guide on how to achieve sustainable development through inclusive growth while strengthening communities’ adaptive capacities, increasing the resilience of vulnerable sectors, and optimising disaster mitigation opportunities, with the goal of promoting people’s welfare and security toward gender-responsive and rights-based sustainable development.

It outlines the activities aimed at strengthening the national governments and local government units’ (LGUs’) capacity, in collaboration with partner stakeholders, to build disaster resilience in communities and to institutionalise arrangements and measures for reducing disaster risks, including projected climate risks, and enhancing disaster preparedness and response capabilities at all levels.

The application of technologies, research, development, and promotion of innovative approaches, as well as local knowledge, to confront complex issues posed by hazards, are critical components of disaster risk management and guiding informed decision-making. Hence, commitments to support and enhance access to technologies and to foster innovative approaches to risk reduction, preparedness and resilient recovery are essential requirements for the management of current and future disasters in the most disaster-prone places.

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