Building resilience: adaptation to climate change

Amado S. Tolentino Jr.

Amado S. Tolentino Jr.

Adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic conditions or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. It is a necessary strategy to complement any climate change mitigation legislation in place.

Best practices abound on adaptation activities to cope with climate change risks.

In Bangladesh, floating vegetable gardens allow for seedlings to be grown when land is flooded so that they are ready to plant out when the floodwater recedes. Fish are reared in cages anchored in ponds created by monsoon rains when the river is too fast flowing for fishing boats to go out. A variety of rice has been planted that matures before the monsoon rains, and ponds are used for raising ducks and fish. Ducks provide eggs for the market and are more resilient to floods than chickens.

In Thailand, bamboo poles are used in beating back waves that slowly engulf seaside communities. Properly spaced bamboo poles dampen the force of waves and allow for a more natural exchange between the marine and freshwater environments. Erecting bamboo screens made of thousands of poles driven into the seabed has helped restore several hundred meters of land now planted with mangrove saplings along the Gulf of Thailand coast as well as on the island of Phuket.

Community resilience in Nepal through local knowledge, practices and innovations to adapt to climate variability is worth notice too. To cope with water scarcity, water conservation ponds are built during the monsoon and farmers use water harvesting tanks to trap rainwater for use in the dry season.

Interesting are the Nepali improved crop storage systems. Farmers have been making pits to store potatoes because pits help maintain cooler temperature allowing the potatoes to last longer. Others protect their seeds from frost and cold temperature by covering them with cloth and hanging them in safe places. Rice and other cereals are stored in earthen vessels and kept on raised beds to protect them from flooding. They are also raising the level of their houses and cattle sheds to keep them safe during the monsoon floods.

In the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, there has been a transition in the types of root crops people are planting. While in the past, they mainly planted yam and taro which are harvested at different times of the year and can be stored for the rainy season, people now are more focused on introduced root crops like sweet potato and cassava which requires less labor as they grow in secondary forests and can be harvested after only three months. It led to current interest at producing banana chips as banana trees fare well under heavy rainfall and processing is cheap and simple. There are now processing groups consisting of women in banana chips production.

Against the backdrop of horrifying earthquakes, tsunamis, super typhoons and storm surge consequences and amidst unprecedented global attention and intense media coverage on climate change (as in the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (Poland), the 2009 Philippine Climate Change Law (RA 9729) (An Act mainstreaming climate change into government policy formulations, establishing the framework strategy and program on climate change, creating for the purpose the Climate Change Commission, and for other purposes) is a most significant piece of climate change  mitigation legislation that needs public  information and awareness as well as effective people’s participation  in its implementation and enforcement.  In the meantime, the man on the streets wants to know about adaptation to climate change.

The climate change adaptation practices mentioned above respond to urgent and immediate adaptation needs, prioritizing the most vulnerable communities and seek to build capacities on adaptation.

He authored numerous publications, contributed to many international environmental law meetings and spearheaded the formulation of the first environmental laws of the Philippines.


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1 Comment

  1. Apolonio Reyes on

    In Philippines, to control greenhouse effects of smokes that warms the oceans, our Congress enacted the Smoke Emission Law. Now the LGU enforcing this law enriched themselves by selling receipts/stickers that free PUJ, PUB and delivery trucks and vans from apprehension for three months and renewable every three months for P300