• Ecotown project echoes win-win strategy to economic and environmental sustainability

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    In the heels of super typhoon Yolanda’s fury, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) have pushed for the adoption of Ecotown framework.

    The Commission said that the demonstration of Ecotown framework “emphasizes that economic growth and climate change can be mutually enforcing if we could fully take advantage of the concomitant shared opportunities.”

    Given the Philippines’ extreme vulnerability to climate change, CCC stressed the need to view adaptation as a necessity rather than an option.

    “Even the country’s recent economic gains will be futile in the wake of the changing climate and its adverse impacts,” said Helena Gaddi.

    She further noted that investing or financing climate change action is not an extra development burden since adaptation measures could translate to savings from avoided costs once the impacts of climate change manifest.

    Against this backdrop, the CCC revealed details on the demonstration of ecotowns in 10 municipalities.

    Five project sites are being supported by GGGI specifically the municipalities of Del Carmen, Pilar, San Benito, and San Isidro in the province of Surigao del Norte and the municipality of San Vicente in Palawan.

    Assistant Secretary Joy Goco clarified that the Philippines’ version of ecotown focuses on adaptation instead of mitigation (such as zero carbon footprints) as in the case of other countries.

    “Ecotown pays more attention to adaptation and the emphasis is on anticipatory planning to prepare for the inevitable effects of climate change,” she said.

    Being the first of its kind at the municipal level, the initiative seeks to integrate and mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the local development plans such as the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to enable communities to become “ecologically stable” and “economically resilient.”

    To share the progress achieved on the ground, Jesse Velente of the Municipal Planning Development Office of San Vicente Palawan presented some of the most important findings of the project.

    He discussed the most crucial sectors namely agriculture, forestry, health, and coastal and marine, and how these sectors are being affected by climate change in their municipality.

    Encapsulating where these efforts fall in the grand vision toward green growth, Dr. Yong Sung Kim of GGGI emphasized that while climate change presents daunting challenges, it can serve as a strong catalyst to positive green growth transition.

    Furthermore, San Vicente can serve as a role model for other LGUs in demonstrating green growth and initiate the shift of momentum from the LGU to the provincial, national and sectoral level, thereby embedding green growth as a core strategy in development planning at all levels.

    RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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