Climate-related risks and disasters

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RACHEL ALVENDIA-QUERO

RACHEL ALVENDIA-QUERO

The need for well-concerted and continuous assessment, monitoring, and action for mitigating the impact of climate change, such as extreme weather events in the Philippines, appeared as the gist of plenary discussions and research presentations during the Third National Climate Conference held last September 25, 2014 at Traders Hotel in Makati City. Organized by the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in partnership with OML Center (Science for Climate Resilient Communities), the conference was aptly themed “Climate–related Risks and Disasters.”

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Two things struck me on what transpired in Third National Climate Conference. First, more people across different institutions and disciplines are collaborating to share vital information and contribute effort to mitigate the impact of climate change. The conference was well-attended and broadly represented by various stakeholders from the national and local scenes. Participants came from government agencies, local government units, universities and research institutions, non-government organizations, media, technical staff from the legislature, and private individuals. Some of the participants even came from far flung areas hit by disastrous typhoons in the past, such as the provinces of Leyte and Surigao del Sur.

As one of the research poster presentors, I found opportunities to connect with many stakeholders. I had informal group discussions with three researchers who just happened to have sat near me. One of them, a professor from the University of the Philippines-Visayas in Tacloban, Leyte, shared candid observations about the on-going rehabilitation projects for the people affected by “super-typhoon” Yolanda last year. Another researcher, a Senate technical staff working on policy research, gave updates about a current policy study on climate change adaptation. Another researcher from World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) joined our informal “focus-group discussion” about environmental management projects.

The current trend of involvement among multi-stakeholders could be also gleaned from the progress report presented during the Conference about the number and scope of research studies submitted to the annual Climate Conference. According to the Chair of the NAST Task Force on Climate Change, a growing number of the researches they have received during the annual Climate conferences dwelt more on institutional mechanisms (e.g. social issues and migration) compared to scientific and technology-based topics (e.g. climate change and ecosystem). Perhaps, they could mean that more local researchers are attracted to tackling the management and organizational issues pertaining to initiatives in climate change and disaster management.

The second thing that struck me during the Third Climate Conference was the immense impact of Yolanda (internationally code-named Haiyan), the most devastating typhoon that ever hit the country, and even broke world record in terms of wind speed and gustiness. Casualties of typhoon Yolanda were recorded as 6,000 Filipinos, although some local people claim that the actual number of deaths was much more due to the volume of bodies that were not recovered and could not be identified at all.

Weather extremes due to the changing climate are predicted by scientists to continue in the future. While it somewhat appears that more people are beginning to care about the environment, concrete actions are urgently needed. For when it comes to the safety and welfare of people exposed to risks from natural disasters, each sector must do its part now.

Rachel Quero teaches organizational behavior, human resource management, and management action research at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She has also written several academic articles on disaster risk management. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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