Manila, Philippines -- The Climate Change Commission, the Philippines’ top body for climate change, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the country’s top body for disaster risk reduction and management, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) to jointly improve community resilience in the Philippines in the face of the looming problems presented by climate change.
The agreement comes on the heels of unusual heavy rains in the Philippines in early 2011, which caused landslides, flash floods, and storm surges that have already affected two million people and damaged approximately 5,400 houses. More extreme weather events in the future are likely to increase the number and scale of disasters.
Under the M.O.U., the two organizations will jointly support the formulation and implementation of disaster risk reduction and climate change action strategies by local government units and improve the provision of climate risk information to local authorities. They will also work to encourage local governments to coordinate the review and monitoring of their disaster risk reduction and climate change action plans.
“This is a re-affirmation of the paradigm shift in the Philippines towards an integrated approach to genuine disaster-resilient development outlined in both the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010,” said Senator Loren Legarda, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia and Pacific Region, who witnessed the ceremonies.
Voltaire T. Gazmin, Secretary of National Defence and Chairperson of the NDRRMC, and Commissioner Lucille Sering, Vice-Chair of the Climate Change Commission, signed the M.O.U. at an event titled “One Against Risks.”
“Local governments are asking for a structured and well-coordinated approach to action plans stipulated by law. The NDRRMC and Climate Change Commission have therefore agreed to. With the M.O.U. in place, the organizational capacities and mechanisms of NDRRMC can be leveraged and existing resources can be better directed to link and implement action plans for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation,” explained Mr. Gazmin.
“The mission of the Climate Change Commission can never be achieved without integrating disaster risks. Expectation can never be managed properly without addressing both impacts of climate change and risks of disasters. At the most basic level, the CCC and the NDRRMC need to cooperate with each other if communities are truly going to adapt and be resilient,” said Ms. Sering.
Margareta Wahlström, United Nations Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, commended the agreement as an important step in supporting local governments. “Cooperation between the nation's top bodies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is going to make it simpler and easier for local governments to implement their work. By joining together, the two bodies can encourage risk reduction activities, which already has a strong start in the Philippines, to be even more widespread.”
Encouraging synergies between key players – such as between the Philippine Climate Change Commission and the NDRRMC – is the aim of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a gathering of disaster risk reduction experts, government authorities and other key practitioners in Geneva, Switzerland, organized by UNISDR every two years. The next session is scheduled for 8-13 May of this year.
According to UNISDR, climate change and disaster risk reduction are closely linked. And while more extreme future weather events may increase the number and scale of disasters, the existing methods and tools of disaster risk reduction are powerful capacities for adaptation to climate change. The forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on adaptation to extreme events, which UNISDR proposed and continues to support, will further increase understanding on these issues.
In December 2010, countries adopted the Cancun Adaptation Framework, raising the profile of climate change adaptation. In the Asia pacific region, this follows the adoption of the Incheon Regional Road Map on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation by countries at the Fourth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in October 2010.