Open Data law on climate resilience, disaster risk reduction

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LUDWIG O. FEDERIGAN

There are two areas where the Philippines always ranked in the Top 10.

One is the global gender gap report of the World Economic Forum. The report looks at all countries global and ranks them on a scale from zero to one in terms of women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. The closer to one a country gets, theoretically, the smaller the gender gap. In the latest Global Gender Gap Report released in January 2018, the Philippines ranked 10th.

The other is the report on the most vulnerable country to extreme weather events. In 2014, after Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Philippines in November 2013, the German think tank Germanwatch released its Global Climate Risk Index on the most affected country over a 20-year period, 1994-2013, and the Philippines ranked at No. 1. This index ranks each country in terms of total number of deaths, total amount of losses, percent of losses in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), and the total number of weather events over a period of 20 years.

In Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2017 covering the period of 1997-2016, the Philippines ranked at fifth behind Honduras, Haiti, Myanmar, and Nicaragua.


The banking giant Hong Kong Shanghai & Banking Corp. (HSBC) released recently its latest assessment on 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change.

The 67 nations represent almost a third of the world’s nation states, 80 percent of the global population, and 94 percent of global GDP.

In the HSBC assessment report, the Philippines was ranked as the third most vulnerable country to climate change behind India and Pakistan.

When the number of annual natural catastrophic events have spiked higher from around 60 events annually in the early 1970s to an average of 310 events annually during the past 10 years, clearly the discussion on Open Data is deemed relevant and urgent.

In a Roundtable Discussion on An Open Data Law on Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction organized by the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute recently, Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, executive director of University of the Philippines (UP) Resilience Institute, manifested that the Philippines adopts through legislation an Open Data Policy on Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction.

What are the elements of Open Data?

Per the executive summary, Open Data should be: (1) availability in digital format, downloadable via the internet for ease of use; (2) amenability to intermixing with other datasets through interoperable format structure and machine-readability of digital files; (3) free to use, reuse and redistribute, even on commercial basis; and (4) “no conditions” rule on the use except for appropriate citation for due credit.

While Open Data is critical for effective hazards management, and as urban populations and vulnerability grow, Open Data empowers not only national and local government units but other stakeholders such as the business sector, universities, the scientific community, non-government organizations, civil society movement, and the individuals – to manage urban growth in a way that fosters resilience to natural hazards and addressed properly the increasing impacts of climate change such as, but not limited to, rising sea levels and storm surges, heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, drought, increased aridity, water scarcity, and air pollution.

National Government Policy on Open Data

As stated in the policy paper, the Philippines’ current Open Data Policy is anchored on the Joint Memorandum Circular, The Philippine Open Government National Action Plan, and the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. It was strengthened with the issuance of additional executive orders by President Rodrigo Duterte to encourage citizens engagement, namely, (1) Executive Order No. 2, issued July 24, 2016 that operationalizes the people’s constitutional right to information and the state policy of full public disclosure and transparency in public service; (2) Executive Order No. 6, issued October 06, 2016 thatinstitutionalizes the 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Hotline and establishing the Complaint Center; (3) Executive Order No. 9, issued December 01, 2016 that created the Office of Participatory Governance (OPG) that is mandated to promote active citizenship, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability in governance by engaging different stakeholders to participate in governance and nation-building efforts; and (4) Executive Order No. 24, issued May 16, 2017, that created the Participatory Governance Cluster of the Cabinet that is mandated to exert all efforts to enhance citizen participation in governmental processes. I believe that a legislated Open Data Policy clearly defines government direction toward achieving a climate-resilient community and, at the same time, a climate-resilient country.
We all know that in 2015, after long years of discussions and negotiations, our world leaders, including the Philippines, through the United Nations, have agreed and adopted three agreements, namely, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

We cannot continue talking about or taking action on achieving sustainable development without addressing the issues of climate change. And we cannot achieve climate resiliency if the basic data is delayed (in delivery), denied or withhold because of issues on cost recovery, sustainability, intellectual property, and national security.

I believe that adopting and pushing forward an Open Data Law on Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction strengthens Philippines’ policy insofar on climate change and definitely adds to the affirmation of our commitment and contribution to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

There is no inch of doubt that the policy paper is beneficial towards creating a climate-resilient Philippines. Therefore, we all need to support the call of Dr. Lagmay to push forward an Open Data Law on Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ludwig O. Federigan is an environmental advocate, climate change researcher, and a sought after speaker on climate change, environment, sustainability, and leadership. He completed his BS Engineering at Don Bosco Technical College, MBA at University of San Carlos, and Strategic Business Economics Program at the University of Asia & the Pacific. He was awarded fellowships to attend executive programs on climate change and development, green energy and climate finance, sustainable consumption and production, sustainability leadership at the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom), Renewables Academy (Germany), Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), TERI University (India), and Yale University (USA). You can reach him via email at ludwig.federigan@gmail.com.

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