LESS than one percent, or only 160 out of 1,700 local government units (LGUs), have existing action plans to deal with disasters, a fact that makes poor people more vulnerable to calamities, according to an official of the Climate Change Commission (CCC).
CCC Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman said the discovery compels them to require all the LGUs to formulate their respective local climate change action plans (LCCAPs) by the end of next year.
He noted that an action plan will enable the LGUs to increase the capacities of local communities to reduce disaster risk and adapt to climate change.
“Each LGU should have a local climate change action plan as mandated by the Climate Change Act of 2009. Thus far, out of 1,700 LGUs including provinces, only 160 would have a plan,” de Guzman, vice chairman of the CCC, said.
The official added that there is an urgent and compelling need to enhance the capacity of the LGUs to adapt to climate change and reduce their vulnerability to weather-related disasters in order to protect the nation’s poorest, who bear the brunt of climate change impacts.
“Based on our timeline, we should have 500 plans by the end of the year and all the LGUs, municipalities, cities and provinces, should have their own LCCAP by the end of next year,” he said.
The absence of such action plans, de Guzman pointed out, is a “social sin” because it is contrary to the interest of the most vulnerable sectors of society.
“Non-action on climate and disaster risks is a social sin and a form of injustice to the poor and the most vulnerable,” he said.
With the LCCAP, de Guzman further noted, the LGUs could have access to the P1-billion People’s Survival Fund (PSF) that will finance local adaptation initiatives.
The PSF may be used to finance adaptation activities such as water resources and land management; risk insurance for farmers, agricultural workers and other stakeholders; infrastructure development and protection of natural ecosystems; and monitoring of vector-borne diseases triggered by climate change.
De Guzman said sectors mired in poverty such as farmers, fisherfolk and informal settlers living in danger areas have a higher chance of suffering ill effects of climate change since they often live, farm or hold assets in areas more exposed to drought and floods, which put their homes, crops, livestock and even their own lives at greater risk.
These sectors, he added, also have limited safety nets or insurance mechanisms to help them cope with climate change-related shocks like failed harvests linked to changing weather patterns and loss or damage linked to weather extremes.
“An LCCAP could well define the strategies of a community for strengthening local risk governance, enhancing rural livelihood, ensuring ecosystems integrity and building cultural resilience. Implementing these strategies surely reduces disaster risk and builds the adaptive capacity and resilience of communities to climate change impacts,” de Guzman explained.
He said they plan to empower the LGUs against climate change by rolling out in the coming months a network of learning centers that will offer standardized training modules on adaptation and mitigation measures.
De Guzman cited Section 14 of the Climate Change Act of 2009 or Republic Act 9729 that mandates LGUs as frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas, consistent with the provisions of the Local Government Code, the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change and the National Climate Change Action Plan.