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New award to honor PHL's best resilience-building LGUs launched

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Nov. 25 (PNA) — Government further bolstered its bid on building up the Philippines' resilience to climate change and natural hazards nationwide, seeking to achieve better protection of life, limb and property.

On Tuesday, during the resilience building-oriented Local Government Unit (LGU) Summit in Metro Manila, the government's Climate Change Commission (CCC) spearheaded the launch of the Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD) Award for Philippine cities and municipalities.

The award will honor "exemplar LGUs implementing innovative strategies to manage climate change and disaster risks in line with policies laid out by the Philippine government," said CCC.

"Climate change is the biggest development challenge of our time," CCC Vice-Chairperson Lucille Sering said at the event, highlighting urgency for local initiatives on climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR).

She noted such resilience-building initiatives are essential, particularly as studies show the Philippines is among countries most vulnerable to the changing climate's impacts.

Those impacts are increasing onslaught of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise, warned experts.

"We're already beginning to see climate change's manifestations in the country," noted Sering, citing bleaching of corals as an example.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) noted adaptation is "the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities."

DRR is "the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events," saidUNISDR.

UNISDR also said resilience is "the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions."

Hazard is "a dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption or environmental damage," UNISDR continued.

Aside from recognizing innovative LGU initiatives on CCA and DRR, CCC said the CLAD Award seeks to promote LGUs' prioritization and emulation of measures that'll enhance adaptive capacities and reduce vulnerabilities of communities.

"The award will be an effective tool for encouraging LGUs to take action," environment advocate Sen. Loren Legarda said at the launch.

She called on LGUs nationwide to institutionalize CCA and DRR so communities can better cope with climate change and be less vulnerable to landslides and other natural hazards.

"We must take that path and face challenges ahead," she said.

The national government has already developed geo-hazard maps and other tools which LGUs can use in pursuing CCA and DRR, she noted.

Earlier, government also set climate change-related policies for the country through enactment of measures like Republic Act No. 9729 (Climate Change Act of 2009) and RA 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010).

Legarda is the Senate's climate change committee head and UN Champion for DRR and CCA for Asia-Pacific.

She as well as CCC, Department of Environment and NaturalResources, Department of Interior and Local Government, Office of Civil Defense, UNISDR and Aksyon Klima Pilipinas organized the inaugural CLAD Award.

"The award will be given to six outstanding LGUs," said CCC. Such LGUs will be recognized as champions for CCA and DRR.

CCC also said government will showcase, in international and local CCA- and DRR-related events, the LGUs' respective initiatives.

Assessment of LGU contenders for the award will be aligned with criteria based on the Philippines' National Framework Strategy on Climate Change, 2011-2028 National Climate Change Action Plan and UNISDR's 10 essentials for making cities resilient, CCC further said.

CCC said one city and one municipality will be selected in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao according to such criteria.

For the LGU summit this year, government adapted as theme 'Plan Beyond Boundaries. Build on Victories' to highlight the need for building communities' resilience to climate change and natural hazards.

The summit featured best local CCA and DRR practices and provided local officials a venue for discussing ways of mainstreaming government's climate change policies into LGUs' respective development plans.

Sering earlier noted LGUs must build up their respective capacities for such mainstreaming as these are the frontliners in implementing government's climate change plans and initiatives.

"We want LGUs to be capacitated in this," she said.

The summit was among activities government lined up for the 2014 observance of National Climate Change Consciousness Week (NCCCW) this November.

Authorities chose 'Plan. Act. Achieve.' as theme for this year's NCCCW. (PNA)

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