MANILA, Jan. 30 — The local government units (LGUs) are playing a key role in climate change adaptation and disaster risk mitigation, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The lesson that we learned in the course of our technical assistance to LGUs is that they play a critical role, because they have decision making powers, hold the purse and are directly accountable to their constituents, Susan Rachel Jose, director of the NEDA-Regional Development Coordination Staff, said.
Jose said that, aside from providing technical assistance, the responsibility of national government agencies, such as NEDA, is to coordinate planning among different LGUs that geographically share the same ecosystem.
The basic principle is that geographic hazards do not respect political boundaries. That is why we usually coordinate with provincial governments because they serve as the coordinator for inter-LGU development planning at the level of municipalities and cities, said Jose.
Jose said there are cases wherein two or more provinces conduct integrated area development, as in the case of Lake Mainit in Caraga Region.
The lake is shared by the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte, which organized the Lake Mainit Development Alliance (LMDA) to protect the ecology of the lake system.
Jose said that the LMDA, which is composed of eight municipalities and six government agencies, is a good entry point wherein further work can be undertaken because of the strong alliance among LGUs.
Katherine Firmeza, Program Manager of the Millennium Development Goal Achievement Fund (MDG-F) Joint Program (JP) on Strengthening the Philippines Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change, echoed Joses statements on the need for development action at the local level.
At the local level, we should empower the communities to know their vulnerabilities to climate change and implement anticipatory adaptation measures, in order for them to address threats posed by climate variability and extremes, Firmeza said.
Firmeza said that among the outcomes of the JP are the mainstreaming of climate risk reduction in local development plans and the enhancement of capacities of national and local stakeholders in addressing climate change risks.
The JP is funded by the Spanish Government under the thematic window on Environment and Climate Change of the MDG-F and involves nine government partners, including NEDA, and six United Nations institutions.
We are currently developing tools on how LGUs can assess their vulnerability to climate variability and extremes, including disasters.
Through these tools, LGUs can assess their vulnerabilities, its impact to the community, and identify priority adaptation measures that could be integrated in their local plans and programs, said Firmeza.
Firmeza and Jose presented these tools and approaches during the Visayas leg of the LGU Summit on Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) in the Philippines last month in Iloilo City.
The Summit also served as a venue for sharing scientific and practical information on climate change adaptation with LGUs in the Visayas.
The Luzon leg of the Summit was held in November last year in Albay, while the Mindanao leg is planned to be conducted in Davao in March. (PNA)