Sec. Manny de Guzman’s Priorities at the Climate Change Commission

Elpidio V. Peria
7 February 2016

Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Climate Change Commission co-organized a feedback session last Tuesday, 2 February, on the results of last year’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which adopted the Paris Agreement. While the feedback session clarified what the Philippines will now do to implement the said Agreement, the presentations in the session also highlighted what newly-appointed Vice-Chair of the Climate Change Commission Emmanuel de Guzman (the Chair of the Climate Change Commission is no less than the President of the Philippines itself, which in this case is Pnoy) will do in the Climate Change Commission in the coming years.

In his opening remarks to the participants of the feedback session which were not only graced by AKsyon Klima members but other NGOs and key leaders like Atty. Christian Monsod of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries as well as the Climate Climate Coalition of the Philippines (CCCP) and other key agencies, including representatives from the United Nations World Food Programme, Sec. de Guzman said they are drawing up a national convergence for resilience program which are the things that the country has to do to meet the post-2015 Development Framework, which consists of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2015-2030 and the Paris Agreement.

What the government will pursue, led by the Climate Change Commission, according to Sec. de Guzman, is the convergence and integration of the climate change adaptation-disaster risk management (CCA-DRM) framework, which to him will be holistic, risk-based and science-based.

The National Economic and Development Authority has initiated a process of laying out the details of the two frameworks, the Sendai Framework and the SDGs, while the Climate Change Commission will focus on the intended nationally determined contributions or INDCs, which is a key instrument for climate change mitigation under the Paris Agreement.

He said that when he came in, there’s already so much investments made by government, the international community, the CSOs and the private sector, the challenge is how to translate these into tangible benefits felt by the local communities.

Understanding and addressing risks is key, he emphasized, it is the key to transforming society. To achieve this, his priorities are :

1) Establishing a national climate and disaster risk information system;

These are to be integrated with the efforts of national agencies. While the previous leadership of the Climate Change Commission focused its initial efforts in identified areas covered by the Eco-town project and similar projects, he wants the Climate Change Commission to serve the 1,700 LGUs that are supposed to come up with their Local Climate Change Action Plans and similar plans.

Right now, the Philippines is so fragmented in its risk information, it is scattered in agencies like PAGASA, the NAMRIA, the Climate Change Commission, some state universities and colleges, at the University of the Philippines and others. These various sets of information and databases need to be integrated so that we can come up with a good risk profile of one LGU, for example, for right now, there’s none.

Once we have that integrated information system, the LGUs themselves can also populate the system. The NEDA is interested in such an information system as it will inform planning at the provincial level, with higher resolutions.

2) Developing capacities on climate and disaster risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis for local development planning

The DILG issued guidelines for the preparation of a local government unit’s DRR-CCA (disaster risk reduction-climate change adaptation) plans, but it only presented a 5-point outline but no tools. For these plans to be effective, there has to be risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, right now, it’s only vulnerability assessment that’s being done. We will adapt risk assessment as a built-in process in the preparation of these plans.

3) Establishing a national disaster loss and damage inventory database system

The UNDP Bangkok will initiate this process. The challenge here is how to evaluate loss and damage at the local level through a valuation protocol which will be standardized and validated at the local level. We cannot afford inaccurate data, what we have right now is only from 1998-2009. The Sendai Framework requires a disaggregated sets of data. Amidst all these, how can we report effectively if our statistical system is not attuned to such a challenge.

Sec. de Guzman talked about the luncheon debate on loss and damage that he was able to attend during the COP 21 in Paris, there he asserted that the Warsaw Mechanism can illustrate the enormity of the risk problem and this can be connected with what Sendai asks to put up a comprehensive risk management profile.

4) Enabling policy development on disaster risk financing and risk transfer mechanism

Right now, during your car registration, there’s an additional insurance premium paid for natural hazards, and this is one example of adjusting our existing policies to incorporate this demand to mainstream disaster risk financing and to establish risk transfer mechanisms.

5) Integrating climate change and disaster risk knowledge in K-12 education

The Climate Change Commission has already scheduled some workshops with DepEd and other stakeholders on this item and lessons exemplars are already completed after consultation with experts.

6) Developing IEC campaigns on disaster and climate risk reduction, including the raising awareness on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; Sustainable Development Agenda 2015-2030, and Paris Climate Change Agreement

As to this task of coming up with a coherent messaging on DRR-CCA, the Philippine Information Agency has already offered their services for this effort and the CCC itself is strengthening its Information and Knowledge Management Division with a bigger and responsive website.

7) Strengthening multi-hazard early warning system and services

Sec. de Guzman cited the example of Guinsagoon in Leyte as an example of why this is needed. That town experienced ten days of rain before the earthquake happened and there was already a known fault line. But after the earthquake, there was a landslide and so the result was that there was an earthquake, then a landslide and the fault line increased the magnitude of the damage to the community. These things that happened, the rain, the fault line and the earthquake, these were known to the agencies looking at these phenomena but there was no coherent messaging so that the community may have prepared for such events. Typhoon Yolanda was a multi-hazard event which would have benefited from this kind of system.
The Philippines introduced this concept of a multi-hazard early warning system and it was adopted in the Sendai Framework and because of this, by 2020, as called for by the Sendai Framework, all local plans will have been revised.

8) Establishment of monitoring, reporting and evaluation system for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and Sustainable Development Agenda 2015-2030, and INDC
DRR-CCA interventions should be informed by the local climate change action plans (LCCAP) and the local disaster risk reduction and management plans (LDRRMP).

In all these plans, the bedrock principle is risk management, not risk assessment. Of course, there’s also the humanitarian consideration in the concept of “build back better” but let us focus on prevention, since our data shows that investing US$1 in risk prevention saves us from US$7 TO US$14 in response costs.

To secure these priorities, he will focus the Climate Change Commission on three areas of effectiveness: one is the strengthening of the Climate Change Office, by filling up all the vacant positions; two, the activation of the National Panel of Technical Experts, including the advisory panel of the CCC and three, the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In looking closely at the local climate change action plans, there are three areas that he wants to focus on : (a) very poor local and urban governance; (b) weak and vulnerable livelihoods and (c) arrest ecosystems decline and assure integrity of local ecosystems.

During the open forum, several participants asked their questions to the Vice-Chair of the Climate Change Commission.

Erwin Puhawan of the Freedom from Debt Coalition asked about the partnership of the Climate Change Commission with community-based groups like the ECOHIM, based on the Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si”, the rehabilitation plan for Yolanda-affected areas and the push for climate justice, how is the government taking it up with President Aquino inaugurating a coal-fired power plant in Davao City right after attending the Paris climate summit.

Sec. de Guzman replied that in the planned rollout of the priorities of the Climate Change Commission, groups like the one mentioned will be included. In fact in his final statement during the closing plenary of COP21, he mentioned “Laudato Si” as building on common ground for further climate action; as to the question on Yolanda, Sec. de Guzman said that the CCC is not the Rehabilitation Commission, but the CCC has contributed to the work of rehabilitation through its Twin-Phoenix project. He also said we need to have a good handbook on how we will undertake recovery planning; on the climate justice question, what will happen now, with climate justice cited in the Paris Agreement, is that this lets us study how they will be implemented in the Philippines; the DOE will need to work with us closely on this, there are around 60 coal-fired power plants that are being planned; we need to study how we will engage with other groups on this issue.

Neth Dano of the ETCGgroup asked how the CCC is involved in integrating the 17 SDGs in NEDA’s work; how is climate proofing pursued using that framework and as regards the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, what’s the process being laid down by the CCC to come up with a comprehensive package; specifically, what’s the concrete mechanism how the NDC will be arrived at.

On the concrete mechanism question, Sec. de Guzman mentioned the inclusion of CSOs in the Advisory Panel of the CCC; as to the integration work with NEDA, the CCC is working with NEDA in coming up with indicators and he is meeting the new NEDA Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra for this. On the NDC, he said he was not yet there when it was started, though in the consultations he was already there, though he admitted there were problems in the consultation as it was not done nationwide and the 70% GHG emissions cut was an executive mandate, meaning it was Pnoy’s decision, but it was all conditional, so we are ready to receive support, be it financial or technology transfer, to fully implement what we committed.

Rodne Galicha of the Climate Reality Project asked : can’t the CCC come up with a position on coal? Sec. de Guzman answered : our approach is a whole govt approach; we look forward to the visit of former US VP Al Gore in March; we will support our legislative initiative towards carbon pricing, the CCC will host a forum with Mr. Al Gore this March.

Isagani Serrano of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement prefaced his comment by saying that there should be no final word on our assessment of the Paris Agreement and the process that brought it about; this assessment that we are doing now should be a continuing one. He then commented on the 1.5 degree centigrade ambition. Prior to the Convention being adopted at Rio in 1992, there was already a consensus that the 2 degrees centigrade stabilization target is an aspirational one, but what it implies back then is that we have to get as low as possible below that number and the assumption then was that by 1990, as to consumption, that there will be no further population increase and that all the trees standing then will no longer be cut. Way back then, there’s already a realization that we are faced with a big problem and that countries that have already exceeded their carbon budgets have to drastically reduce their emissions. Now, with the budget tagging exercise in our budget system already operational, what this exercise shows is that we have something like Php 132billion tagged or 4.4% of the total 2016 set for climate change programs, activities and projects. But what usually happens is that there is another set of programs activities and projects that offset these climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts, how should we deal with this dilemma?

Sec. de Guzman thanked Mr. Serrano for his insights, a DENR official also spoke in response saying she understood the challenges on how to address programs, activities and projects of government that sometimes work at cross-purposes. She invited Mr. Serrano and other interested CSOs to join them in their planning activities so these concerns can be addressed.

Shubert Ciencia of Oxfam commented, saying the existing National Climate Change Action Plan or NCCAP is already our way forward on adaptation. What gets his sympathy are 4th class or lower in category local government units who are overwhelmed with the tasks necessary in coming up with good plans. The NCCAP technically is not yet the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) given that NCCAP was arrived at before guidelines were agreed at the UNFCCC how to do the NAP, but this is doable. On the People’s Survival Fund, he said Oxfam facilitated the submission of proposals by some CSOs, out of the 14 that submitted the proposals, only one was fully compliant with the guidelines set by the PSF Board, and that proposal was granted Php 40 million for their proposal.

Ping Peria of BITS Policy Center also asked Sec. Guzman about the mandated task of the CCC to develop a DRR-CCA Framework which has not been done before, he also suggested that perhaps the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2015-2028 of the DENR as well as the Bureau of Soil and Water Management’s Long Term Master Plan 2010-2020 to Combat Desertification, Land Erosion and Land Degradation (DLLD) be also taken into account in the over-all framework of the CCC.

Sec. de Guzman said that there is already a draft DRR-CCA Framework but this is still undergoing further refinements with the agencies concerned. He noted the additional Frameworks cited.

Melvin Purzuelo of the Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy asked how the CCC can give the LGUs tools and data, he cited the problems encountered by some community groups in Iloilo who tried to access LIDAR data, which was refused to them because of intellectual property concerns. The maps are also outdated, some are circa 1940s. Another concern is the transition from coal to renewable energy. There are already approved service contracts for renewable energy projects up to 2000MW. He underlined that the Philippines should have now a clear transition plan to renewable energy.

Sec. de Guzman said that the concerns raised will be taken up in the convergence initiative that the CCC will undertake with other agencies.

There were other concerns raised, like the presentation on the Paris Agreement, made by Atty Puno, but a discussion of that here in this blog may have to be done some other time.


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One Response to Sec. Manny de Guzman’s Priorities at the Climate Change Commission

  1. Shirley T Bolanos says:

    Thanks Ping for sharing this! Parang naka-attend na din ako sa feedbacking session na yun:)

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