Climate Change is fast becoming the preeminent development challenge of the 21st century. The future of hundreds of millions of people around the world will be determined by the pace of adaptation and mitigation that will be undertaken. In an urbanizing world, cities are both the cause of, and most vulnerable to climate change.
UN-Habitat’s work contributes to improved disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and post-disaster rehabilitation capabilities at the local level. The Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium asks for support from national and international cooperation networks, in order to reduce the vulnerability of human settlements to natural and human-made disasters, and for improving shelter conditions, especially in developing countries and critical natural environments. With the recognition that climate change could increase the vulnerability of human settlements, UN-Habitat is implementing its Cities in Climate Change Initiative (CCCI), a component of the Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) project.
SUD-Net’s long-term goal is to enhance climate change mitigation and preparedness of cities in developing countries through CCCI, which will strengthen capacity gaps through advocacy, education, training and tools development and application. CCCI is the initial step for making SUD-Net operational and will contribute to the attainment of MDG Goal 7. CCCI aims to integrate principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources in developing countries in order to promote resilience to climate change. Ensuring environmental sustainability (MDG 7) requires that cities and local authorities, in partnership with other actors must possess the tools and capacities to promote resilience of cities and national governments against the impacts of climate changes on the ecosystems and livelihoods. Through CCCI, UN-HABITAT, is demonstrating its commitment to help settlements adapt to climate change at the local level and has identified the Philippines as one of the demonstration countries under the said initiative.
The Philippines The Philippines archipelago is found in Southeast Asia and is geographically located between latitude (approximately) 4o23'N and 21o25'N and longitude (approximately) 112oE and 127oE. It is composed of 7,107 islands, with a land area of 299,764 square kilometres. Its length measures 1,850 kilometres, starting from the point near the southern tip of Taiwan and ending close to northern Borneo.
The Philippine coastline adds up to 17,500 km. Three prominent bodies of water surround the archipelago: the Pacific Ocean on the east, the South China Sea on the west and north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. This position accounts for much of the variations in geographic, climatic and vegetational conditions in the country.
The Philippines is considered the 9th most populous country in Asia and the 14th largest country in the world. An increase in the urban population proportion was evident with 37.44 percent in 1980 to about 55 percent of the total national population in 1996, and now at about 64%. In Metro Manila, for instance, the annual growth rate is 3.6 %. Migration to urban centres from rural areas is driven by relatively higher wages, more educational opportunities and, readily available basic services. Population growth is tied to poverty incidence. About 32.9 % lived below the poverty line in 2006 (30% in 2003). The poor in 2006 were 27.6 million (from 5.4 million in 2003).
Sorsogon City, Bicol Region – Philippines Sorsogon City lies from 123° 53’ to 124° 09’ east longitude and from 12° 55’ to 13° 08’ north latitude, and is situated in the Philippine’s Bicol Region. It is 600 kilometres southeast of Manila and is located at the southernmost tip of Luzon. As part of the geographical chain linking Luzon to the rest of the Philippines, it is a transshipment corridor and serves as the gateway to the Visayas and Mindanao Islands. Its geographical location is such that it opens into both the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea.
Sorsogon City has a total population of 151,454 based on the 2007 national census of population. It is considered as the largest city in Bicol Region in terms of land area and is one of the region's fastest growing cities with an urban growth rate of 1.78%. The city economy relies mainly on agriculture, fishing, trade and services. Sorsogon City is the capital city of the province of Sorsogon and the administrative, commercial, and educational centre of the province.
Assessment Methodology: T Figure 1: Assessment Framework he climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment conducted for Sorsogon City worked on defining the city’s vulnerability context through estimates of its adaptive capacities, sensitivity, and exposure to climate variability and change (figure 1). The assessment used participatory approaches not only in gathering data and information but also in analyzing the city vulnerabilities to climate change impacts.
As defined by the IPCC, adaptive capacity describes the ability of a system to adjust to actual or expected climate stresses, or to cope with the consequences while sensitivity refers to the degree to which a system is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate-related stimuli. Exposure meanwhile relates to the degree of climate stress upon a particular unit of analysis. It may be represented as either long-term change in climate conditions, or by changes in climate variability, including the magnitude and frequency of extreme events.
The purpose of the V&A assessment is to provide local government decision makers and community leaders with information relevant in defining their adaptation priorities and plans as well as guidance where it is critically needed such that the locality could manage the un-avoidable impacts of climate change.
Shortcomings of current assessment / Needs for additional assessment The assessment process worked on and used secondary data especially in climate change projections. It mainly aimed to be parallel with that of recognized official climate information and available scientific research in the country. The scenario used is mainly the projected doubling of CO2 presented in the PINCCC. The assessment likewise recognize the uncertainties of such scenario taking into account that Scientific knowledge is “probabilistic rather than absolute and provisional rather than final; it can never be devoid of uncertainty or the possibility of inaccuracy or incompleteness.” (Silbergeld, 1991)
The city assessment worked on available information at the city level and used the IPCC framework for vulnerability assessment. Though it largely captured qualitative vulnerability information, enhancing the assessment result with more quantitative analysis could also be done such that values of adaptive capacity could be peg and statistically derived. Uncertainties continue to revolve on the localized projection of climate change at the regional/provincial level given absence of hard data and projections. However, it is assumed that the V&A assessment at the City Level would be a dynamic document that could be continuously enhanced given new parameters/projections and changes in local socio-economic and environmental conditions at the city.
III. Overview of Climate Change Vulnerability and Climate Change Impact (4 pgs)
3.1 The Philippines The Philippines has an inherent vulnerability to natural disasters due to its physiography and location. As an archipelago situated in the Pacific ring of fire, with its large mountainous terrain, narrow coastal plains and interior valleys, the Philippines has always experienced natural hazards like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tropical cyclones. The UNDP’s 2004 Global Report on Disasters ranked the country as highest in terms of tropical cyclone occurrence and resultant deaths and third in terms of people exposed to such events annually. An average of 20 cyclones traverses the country yearly, causing physical and economic devastation. Climate variability affects the amount of rainfall, with El Niño producing droughts and La Niña bringing floods.
Climate projections and Observed Anomalies in the Country’s Climate (1951 – 2006)
Based on studies of the national government’s Department Science and Technology specifically studies conducted by its attached office that is the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the countries observed anomalies in climate from 1951-2006 are as follows:
increase of 0.6104 oC in observed mean annual mean temperature;
increase of 0.3742 oC in observed annual maximum temp;
increase of 0.8940 oC in observed annual minimum temp;
increase in inter-annual variability of onset rainfall;
average of 20 cyclones cross the Philippine Area of Responsibility where 8-9 make landfall each year - had Increase of 4.2 in frequency for the period of 1990-2003
Most of these observations parallel those of the global trend that is showing decrease in length of cold dry season and increasing length of warm dry season. Philippine climate trend and projections were first officially released through the Philippine Initial Communication on Climate Change or PINCCC in 1999. The PINCCC predicted that with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, a 2 to 3 oC increase in annual temperature in the country could be expected. Under the same CO2 scenario, a 60 to 100 percent increase in annual rainfall is likewise projected in the Central Visayas and Southern Tagalog provinces, including Metro Manila. As of the date of writing this assessment, the country is yet to come out with an updated localized climate projection in its Second National Communication on Climate Change (SNC) targeted to be released end of November 2009.
Table 1:Temperature Change and Rainfall Ratio by Water Resource Region Based
on the Canadian Climate Center Model (2 x CO2 Scenario)
Country’s Key Vulnerabilities to Climate Change The physiographic and geophysical characteristics of the Philippines make it highly vulnerable to climate change. The country is an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands and it has a total coastline of 34,000 kilometers. As such, seventy percent (70%) of the cities/municipalities depend on coastline and marine ecosystems as source of livelihood. National estimates show that 82.5% of the entire population of the Philippines are at risk to tropical cyclones, flooding and storm surge. Using information from the 2003 official statistics, about 14.9 million homes are vulnerable to impacts of climate change having structures with roofs/walls that are either make shift or made of sub-standard materials as well as non-engineered. These homes may not withstand impacts of stronger typhoons or storm surges.
A one-meter sea level rise (SLR) is likely to inundate coastlines and enhance coastal erosion affecting beaches cliffs and low-lying areas. In 1992 the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) of the Philippines estimated that a SLR of 100 cm will inundate a total area of 129,114 ha affecting approximately 2 million people. This was projected using topography as the sole basis for evaluation. Given this, accelerated SLR is predicted to increase risk of people to flooding, changes in tides of rivers and bays, as well as salt water intrusion into surface and ground water that may affect the amount and quality of water supply. In urban centres, the impacts of sea level rise are compounded by ground subsidence due to over-extraction of ground-water for domestic and industrial use (Rodolfo and Siringan, 2006).
The agriculture sector of the Philippines is projected to be greatly vulnerable to climate change especially due to the increased occurrences of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a drought and extreme wet phenomenon. El Nino dropped GDP by 6.6 % in agricultural production and in construction and construction-related manufacturing by 9.5%. The 2008 Labour Force Survey estimated 11.8 million workers along with their families and dependents, in agriculture, forestry and fisheries were affected by extreme whether events. Twenty percent (20.6%) of fishponds dried out in the 1998 El Nino. These impacts to agriculture create more pressure to the urban areas not only in food security but also in accommodating alterations in livelihood/income source and settlement patterns. The rural to urban migration patterns is predicted to increase considering the latter. Higher population densities spell higher vulnerability to climate change. As it is now, 60% of the Philippine population is now concentrated in cities and national urbanization rate is 3.4%. Climate change impacts are expected to bring added pressure for the urban environment with respect to sustainable land use, infrastructure, access to potable water and health services, waste management, among others.
3.2 The Case of Sorsogon City: Climate Change Impacts and Vulnerabilities
This could be a bit longer and again, I am very keen on getting the human dimension into this.
The Province of Sorsogon where the City is located has been identified by a study of the Manila Observatory and the Department of Environment and Natural Resource to be at a Very High Risk category relative to combined Climate Disasters1. Sorsogon is fourth in the top ten list provinces which are highly at risk to combined factors
Based on recorded and unrecorded local observations, the impacts of climate change in the city given its location and previous stresses are seen to be associated with the climate-driven phenomena on changes in extremes (i.e. tropical cyclones, storm surge, and extreme rainfall/flooding) and changes in means (i.e. increased in temperature, increased precipitation, saline intrusion, and sea level rise).
City climate change hotspots were identified based on exposure of the area to multiple hazards and risks projected to be brought climate change and based on actual risk/hazard maps produced by the city disaster coordinating council based on previous disaster events and assessments. There are 12 villages which were identified to be the city climate change hotspots considering their exposure to multiple climate risks and hazards (i.e. tropical cyclone/storm surge, SLR, flooding, landslide). Of the hotspots identified, 8 are urban villages, 1 is urbanizing, and the last 3 villages are rural in classification.