Amid typhoons, earthquake predictions, and climate change manifestations, the Philippines will hold the Urban Resilience to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Strategies Forum to combat natural disasters’ effect that had caused $1.7 trillion in global damage, impacting many urban populations.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) will host the forum on December 4-8, 2017 in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, a province known to be adversely impacted by dryer weather or drought.

The forum will provide an avenue for the exchange of information and coping mechanisms and adaptation strategies on the impacts of climate change and urbanization in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.

“With the urban population expected to increase by at least 2.5 billion by 2050 according to UN reports, pursuing urban resiliency should be an important agenda for all policy and decision makers, resource managers, and environmental scientists and researchers”, said Dr. Henry A. Adornado, ERDB-DENR executive director.

This event is consistent with the celebration of the ASEAN?s 50th Founding Anniversary with Philippines as the ASEAN chair for 2017.

The congress will be participated by established R and D (research & development) practitioners from various academic and research institutions in ASEAN who are working on urban ecosystem, environment and natural resources management.

Adornado said that ERDB has earlier called for paper submission on five research subjects.

These are 1. Vulnerability assessment in megacities and other highly urbanized areas, 2. Climate change adaptation strategies and coping mechanisms, 3. Green growth strategies and government programs for urban resilience, 4. Disaster risk reduction management startegies in highly urbanized areas, and 5. Financing resilience.

Paper presentations will highlight policies, programs and experiences that may be emulated or replicated among ASEAN members.

According to Dr. Simplicia A. Pasicolan, forum overall coordinator and ERDB Ecosystems Research chief, said the papers will provide updated information on R&D on coping mechanisms and adaptation strategies on the impacts of climate change.

“Cities should have the ability to bounce back at once after any disaster,” said Dr. Pasicolan.

Global damage of natural disasters from 2000 to 2012 had reached to $1.7 trillion globally, according to “Urban Climate Change Resilience” (UCCR) of the ADB.

“Direct impacts of climate change are twofold: shocks and sudden impacts such as storms, typhoons, and heat waves; and stressors that build gradually over time such as sea level rise, average temperature increase, and long term changes in rainfall patterns,” said the ADB report.

Impacts include severe flooding “that stop port or train operations, affecting travel to work and preventing goods to reach market; blackouts as energy generation is affected by storms; increased risk of water or vector-borne diseases due to rainfall and changes in temperature and heat stress. “

There are “soft” measures implemented in certain cities in order to help communities bounce back from disasters.

“We also hope that through this forum, the members of ASEAN countries will able to discuss the issues and challenges in addressing urban vulnerability and in return will be able to also identify researchable areas and future plans that could help in developing strategies to achieve urban resiliency” added Adornado.

The government aims to come up with a plan on urban resilience to climate change as cities usually have large populations.

“We want to be vigilant and prepared in any eventuality as a result of climate change. We need not wait for another disaster to happen before we get our acts together,” said Adornado.

Soft measures being implemented in urban resilience planning include new regulations, technology and information systems, and social networks.

Interconnectedness of different geographic and governance domain is considered so that stakeholders’ participation in disaster management is enlisted.

In Davao, a United Nations Habitat and World Food Programme engaged multi-sectoral groups in an understanding of climate change vulnerability. This led to preparations on disaster resilience.

In Quy Nhon, Vietnam, to prevent seasonal flooding, roads and houses were raised. But since the plan didn’t have coordinated plan with other areas, this caused blockades in natural drainage channels that resulted in flooding in new areas in a 2009 storm.

Thus, an integrated approach to planning disaster reduction is important, according to the ADB UCCR report.

The Surat Plague from pneumonic disease India in 1994 also stressed the role of good infrastructure.

The plague may have been influenced by large scale flooding caused by heavy rain and clogged sewers. That caused dead animals to be exposed on the road and worsened health conditions that later resulted in 52 deaths.

“Failures in networked infrastructure, such as the Surat Plague have revealed how complex and interdependent the systems of a city are. These events show how delicate essential infrastructure may be and highlights the importance of regular repair and maintenance to ensure that these services can respond to shocks and stresses,” according to the UCCR.

Three aspects are looked at under flood safety and security. The first is infrastructure—urban drainage system, city flood protection measures, and reservoir. The second is institutions- city stakeholder trust, flood advisory committee, disaster early warning system, and emergency preparedness plans.

The third is knowledge—reservoir management models, information exchange between institutions, and hydrological modelling.

Assessing vulnerability identifies location and dynamics of vulnerable urban population—such as slums.

In assessing climate change impacts, among tools employed are GIS (geographic information system) and remote sensing, greenhouse gas inventory and life cycle analysis, and natural resources accounting.

For any questions or interview requests, please contact 0929-715-8669, 0917-102-6734 (Growth Publishing for ERDB)disaster photo Photo by Maxwell GS