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Climate Change Commission holds forum on impacts of sea level rise in PH

CALOOCAN CITY, Aug. 10 (PIA) -- The Climate Change Commission (CCC) and its National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE), in partnership with the Oscar M. Lopez Center, have successfully convened the first of its two-part online webinar, which discussed knowledge on the current and future state of sea level change in the Philippines.

Entitled, “Taking stock: Why should we be concerned about the climate and sea level changes?” the virtual forum gathered members of the academe and research institutions in the Philippines and abroad, government agencies, policy makers, and organizations  leading community-based initiatives, to assess the current science on sea level rise and to identify gaps in information gathering, monitoring and communication in the country.

Facilitated by Dr. Carlos Primo David, chair of the NPTE, the forum aimed to share good practices, innovative technologies, and latest policy reforms on sea level rise.

According to Dr. Rodel Lasco, Executive Director of the OML Center, the forum will be part of a multi-year comprehensive study assessing the potential or likely impacts of different climate change scenarios on sea-level rise and the associated hazards. The study will look at key hotspots as case studies in selected cities of the Philippines, and will include coastal mapping and decision-making tools.

Highlights of the event were presentations by Dr. Benjamin Horton, Director of Earth Observatory of Singapore on “Mechanisms of Sea Level Changes: Global/Regional/National Perspective”; Dr. Laura David, Director of the University of the Philippines - Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) on “Current And Future Risks And Impacts of Sea Level Changes”; Dr. Fernando Siringan, Professor of UP-MSI on “Sea Level Rise from the Perspective of Marine Geophysics/Geology”; Dr. Enrico Paringit, Executive Director of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) on “Data Availability and Coastal Mapping”; and Dr. Ma. Laurice Jamero, Head for Resilience Collaboratory of the Manila Observatory on “Limits to Adaptation: Perspectives from Small-Island Communities.”

Horton introduced the South East Asia SEA Level Program (SEA2), an initiative of the Earth Observatory of Singapore which aims to understand and integrate the internal and external mechanisms that have determined sea level changes in the past, and which will shape such changes in the future. This research program impacts upon the ecological, ethical, social, economic, and political challenges specifically facing coastal regions.

“This is a holistic program. We aim to understand what is happening on the solid earth, what this has to do with groundwater withdrawal, with tectonics. We want to understand an array of local, global, and regional processes in sea level," Horton said.

"These will combine together with future projections of daily sea level and extreme events. It’s a holistic program where we look at the impacts of coastal adaptation measures. The Earth Observatory of Singapore wants to work with our partners in South East Asia to provide projections of sea level at the local scale, at decadal time scales, to make countries of Southeast Asia a safer and more sustainable place,” he added.

David, for her part, presented data on Climate Exposure Clusters and Coastal Marine Habitat Distribution which shows that the entire Philippines will actually experience significant amounts of sea level rise, accounting for about twice to even three times that of the global average.

She also discussed the declining mangrove forests of the Pacific Islands and resulting – increased exposure to storm surges, increased coastal sedimentation, decrease in biodiversity and biomass, and release of sequestered carbon. She also discussed the effects of sea level rise on the fisheries sector.

“There are about 1.6 million fishers in the Philippines. Twenty-seven percent of them belong to the municipal fishery, or associated directly with the habitats of coral, mangrove, and seagrass. So if these (marine resources) start dying off, we’re talking about loss, not only of food availability for the entire Philippines, but of labor, of loss of livelihood for our fishers,” David said.

Siringan, for his part, emphasized the connection to sea level rise of groundwater withdrawal, and of aquaculture as an economic activity that provides benefits to the people but is also a threat and a factor.

“It is essential that we know the direction, style, and rate of vertical motions of our coasts. We should minimize the local human-induced causes of sea level rise. There is a need to shift the focus of development to higher grounds accompanied by continuing efforts to protect our coastlines,” said Siringan.

On the other hand, Paringit shared that coastal communities are vulnerable to climate change, as he and his family personally experienced the challenges brought about by constant flooding in their area. He presented case studies of communities eventually adapting to sea level rise and land subsidence.

“Marami pa akong nakikita na we need to work on, it’s not just the availability of the data but how it’s going to be analyzed, how we’re going to project scenarios in the near future and in the far future. We need the tools in order to make this happen. Over all, I wanted to see how data sets could be used to actually create scenarios on impacts to certain sectors or to certain areas in the environment,” Paringit said.

Meanwhile, Jamero shared the experiences of the small island communities of Tubigon, a municipality located in the North Eastern side of Bohol. The area was severely affected by tidal flooding due to land subsidence that was, in turn, induced by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013. She shared the strategies implemented such as to retreat as a way to adapt to relative sea level rise and its social impacts.

“We should also take control of the narrative and shift away from sinking islands to resilient islands. We should stop thinking of island communities as a basket case and force them to relocate when they aren’t ready yet, and rather start to recognize how resilience has always been part of the island life,” Jamero said.

The forum also featured responses from different stakeholders, including Dr. Eulito Casas, Associate Professor of UP Visayas Tacloban College; Atty. Josine Alexandra Gamboa, Manager for Government Initiatives of RARE Inc.; and Dr. Bjoern Surborg, Principal Advisor and Cluster Coordinator for Climate Change of GIZ Philippines.

In his closing remarks, CCC Secretary Emmanuel M. de Guzman emphasized the importance of convergence of different sectors in advancing climate research to help the communities survive and thrive.

“This forum is one important step toward a broader cooperation across sectors on dealing with the increasing threat of rising sea levels to our communities. Rest assured that the Climate Change Commission shall continue to advance research on the slow onset impacts of climate change in the country. We shall also hold more online learning exchanges such as this — experts’ forums that inform and explain climate science to the public,” De Guzman said.

The event is part of a series of the National Panel of Technical Experts’ Fora aiming to mobilize community-based climate action and mainstream climate change knowledge into development policies and practices.

The full discussion of Taking stock: Why should we be concerned about the climate and sea level changes? can be accessed through this link.

Part 2 of this online forum will be soon announced in the Facebook pages of the Climate Change Commission at www.facebook.com/CCCPhl, and the Oscar M. Lopez Center at www.facebook.com/OscarMLopezCenter. (PIA NCR)



source https://pia.gov.ph/news/articles/1049923

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