‘Tagging’ to improve climate change funding

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Identifying and monitoring public budget funding for climate change response in the Philippines will now be easier for policy makers and the general public through a new “tagging” initiative supported by technical assistance from the World Bank and co-funded by the Australian government, a joint official study said.

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The tagging initiative will promote greater transparency and prioritization in government spending, according to the progress report titled “Mobilizing the Budget for Climate Change Response in the Philippines,” prepared by the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the World Bank.

The report provides updates on the country’s progress in implementing reforms based on the recommendations of the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) released by the World Bank in partnership with the CCC and DBM a year ago.

The CPEIR had recommended the integration of the climate change agenda in the government’s planning and budgeting to strengthen the Philippines’ resilience against climate change impact.

The progress report noted that government agencies have begun the tagging process to identify items in the proposed 2015 budget that respond to climate change.

Using common guidelines issued by the DBM and CCC, the report said that 53 national government agencies (NGAs) have tagged more than 5 percent of the total 2015 national budget submissions for climate change expenditures amounting to P136.3 billion.

About 98 percent of these proposed spending is directed toward climate change adaptation, including flood control, reforestation, sector-specific research and development on climate change, and disaster risk reduction, it said.

If approved by Congress, this figure would continue the trend of rising climate change spending, which had reached 2 percent of the national budget in 2012 for climate-focused departments.

Proposed climate spending are concentrated in traditional sectors like infrastructure, environment, agriculture, energy, and science and technology.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the tagging exercise makes climate change spending so much more transparent and accountable.

“More important, however, is what the process means for our climate change management program in the long term. Tagging lets us access timely information that will be useful when agencies plan, implement, and monitor their climate change management programs. Altogether, we’re taking a very strategic approach to government spending so that our climate change initiatives are properly supported,” he said.

Climate Change Commissioner Mary Ann Lucille Sering, on the other hand, said the country’s policy makers have formulated a comprehensive set of policies and programs to deal with the risks posed by climate change and the expenditure tagging is one major step in putting in place these policies, programs, and priorities into the budget process.

“Measures like these will boost our efforts to make our communities less vulnerable to sea level rise, degradation of marine ecosystems, and extreme weather events,” she said.

For the World Bank, climate change is a very important development issue that the world should confront squarely in order to eliminate extreme poverty.

Motoo Konishi, World Bank country director said climate change impacts could reduce cultivable land, diminish agricultural productivity, and decrease fisheries catch, which would disproportionately hurt poor communities in high-risk urban and rural areas dependent on subsistence livelihoods.

“We are happy that the Philippines is demonstrating leadership on this matter through its strong commitment to a comprehensive reform program,” he said.

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