Davao City on the southern coastline of Mindanao has emerged as the least vulnerable to the impact of climate change among eight cities in the Philippines, and it could continue its strong economic growth by institutionalizing sustainable environmental measures, according to a 2012 study released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Weather data from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration over a 20-year period, from 1990 to 2010, show that while the city experiences year-round rainfall and lies in a typhoon-free zone, there has been a “moderately increasing trend in annual rainfall,” said Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive and vice chairman of WWF.
Tan recently shared the results of the WWF study entitled “Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts.”
The study analyzed weather data recorded over two decades in eight cities that, besides Davao City, also included Baguio City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro City, Dagupan City, Laoag City and Zamboanga City.
The information was used to predict how climate change could affect trade and industry in these areas for a 50-year period and how local authorities and private stakeholders can counter its adverse consequences.
The study revealed that Davao City would have to deal with climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, increased sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, and variability in the amount of rainfall.
“Unless and until this rainfall trend reverses itself, it is likely that Davao’s growing economy will have to manage increased rainfall, river flow, and flooding,” Tan said.
The report looked at certain industries in the city and their vulnerability to environmental disturbances.
For instance, rising sea levels may create problems for the city’s ports, a nerve center of Davao City’s economy that caters to a variety of ships handling both cargo and passengers.
In agriculture, there is the danger of rat infestation following heavy rains.
The city has been enjoying economic growth as a result of the generally robust agricultural, shipping, trade, and tourism sectors, Tan noted.
Agriculture is Davao’s largest economic sector with banana, pineapple, durian, mango and papaya as the top fruit crops in 2010. Durian showed the most significant increase in terms of fruit crop production from 1990 to 2010.
Also, banana production was tagged as the sectoral leader in tonnage and has more than doubled over 20 years. Corn production delivered a robust pattern of growth, more than doubling from 1990 to 2010.
The study also showed that tourism is a vibrant sector with significant growth recorded over the last 10 years. In 2010, the total estimated tourist receipts of the city hit P9.55 billion.
To protect all these gains, the study recommended sustainable, integrated area development for Davao City. “Its opportunity is to do things the right way,” it cited.
This means the effective and sustained management of essential utilities like water and power, basic services, and food security “driven by innovative agricultural formulas.”
It also suggested effective and sustained management of “climate-smart” zoning, mass transit, land use and infrastructure, and efficient land and sea access to developed centers in Mindanao and nationwide.
“Davao has found its place in the sun. [It] should take a close look at the city’s shipping fleet and port facilities, and take the necessary steps to ensure that they are upgraded to deal with the impacts of climate change,” it said.