The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have committed to adopt “green growth” policies in urban areas, which are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG).
Among the adverse effects of GHG is destructive flooding, which has engulfed urban centers in the past years.
In a press conference during the “Urban Resilience and Disaster Risk Management” forum, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) Director Henry Adornado said a resolution from the forum will enhance information and technology transfer and exchange between countries on disaster risk management. The forum was held in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
The ERDB is an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“With the high vulnerability of Southeast Asian cities to the effects of climate change resulting in higher frequencies of tropical storms, unprecedented flooding, drought, heat waves and sea level rise, this forum serves as an important reminder that urban resiliency is an urgent agenda that we have to work with” said DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones who represented Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu during the forum.
More than 150 participants who came to the forum were from Asean member-states, while there were representatives from development partner countries China, India, and Japan.
“The pursuit of urban resilience and green growth in major cities sets a new norm to sustainable development and survival of more than half of the world’s population living in the metropolis. This is a timely response as it is projected that by 2050, 66 percent of the global population will be residing in urban areas,” said Simplicia Pasicolan, forum coordinator.
An exhibit also featured four important themes: Tools and Methodologies for Climate Change Impacts Assessments; Urban Resilience and Green Growth Strategies; Institutional Structures, Policies and Programs; and Management Strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction. The ceremony for the exhibit was led by Gov. Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte and Elizabeth Buensuceso, the Philippine ambassador to Asean.
Adornado said a continuous collaboration and information exchange on studies in disaster risk management will ensure concrete plans and actions will be implemented by Asean member-states.
During the last ten years, Asean member-state have experienced more intense effects of rising temperatures from the effects of global warming. This is attributed to the release of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor and hydroclorofluorocarbons, which are in turn caused by the combustion of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas.
Avoiding full global warming
It is estimated that the current rate of man’s global GHG emission may be contributing to a temperature rise exceeding 2 degrees Centigrade, which is the upper limit set in order to avoid risk-full global warming by 2036.
“The end in view is to come up with a list of experiences, information and strategies among Asean in their struggle to attain urban resilience to climate change and highlighting the various coping mechanisms and adaptive capacities of each participating member,” said Adornado.
Urban areas are considered drivers of global warming that leads to climate change. The World Bank in 2011 reported that 80 percent of GHG emissions originate from city residents.
This scenario is likely to continue given that the urban population is expected to increase by at least 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations in 2014.
According to the report World Urbanization Prospects report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, cities largely use about 75 percent of the earth’s natural resources and contribute to an estimated 67 percent of global energy consumption, and 71 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, which add to the upsurge of climate change.