Understanding climate change and innovation in the Philippines
Why should I read this document?
This document provides an understanding of the climate change in the Philippines, the impact on its economy and environment. It also discusses the government actions being executed, and types of innovative solutions that can be applied to address the climate issues.
The Philippines is considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Due to the tropical and monsoonal aspects, and highly influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation, there is substantial annual rainfall variability.
Consisting of 7,107 islands divided into three island groups (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), the Philippines lies in the world’s most cyclone-prone region, averaging 19–20 cyclones each year, of which 7–9 make landfall. More than 60% of the Filipino population resides within the coastal zone and are acutely impacted by climate change. Sea levels in the Philippines are rising faster than the global average, increasing the hazard posed by storm surges and threatening permanent inundation of low-lying areas.
Climate change is also driven by factors such as changes in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, land cover and radiation, and their combinations, which result in what is called radiative forcing (positive or warming and negative or cooling effect).
Impacts of climate change include sea-level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures and extreme rainfall. The consequences of climate change will bring climate-related hazards such as typhoons (in the northern and eastern parts), floods (in central Luzon and southern Mindanao), landslides (based on terrain), and droughts. It also has a huge impact on reducing cultivatable land, which decreases agricultural productivity and increases food insecurity in the country.
This page will provide the information for a deeper understanding of the impact on the country’s economy and environment, and the relevant policies to address these impacts.
Climate change threatens the economy and many different sectors in the Philippines. A description of some of the major sector impacts is presented below.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), climate change is changing production systems and compromising food security and nutrition for millions of people in the Philippines. From 2006 to 2013, the Philippines was hit by 75 climate disasters mostly cyclones, tropical storms and floods - which caused USD 3.8 billion in accumulated damage and losses to the agriculture sector. Hence, there is a critical and urgent need to develop climate-smart technologies available and accessible to the farmers through the creation of an enabling institutional environment.
The government has implemented policy measures and activities that will ensure availability, stability, accessibility and affordability of safe and healthy food, to manage the threat of climate change to food security. For instance, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has formulated specific programmes such as the Climate Information System for Agriculture and Fisheries. This can be used to generate timely and reliable information to aid in disaster risk reduction and management. New and existing technologies can also increase access to substitutes. These include the development of sustainable alternative water supplies (e.g. water reuse) which can compensate for uncertainties in precipitation.
Climate variability can lead to water stress by reducing the quality and quantity of available water supplies. In recent years, due to the impact of El Niño phenomenon and climate change, the observed impacts include increasing temperatures and drying of water sources. In Manila, water shortage is a critical issue that highlights the uncertainty of water access even in the nation’s capital. People are often forced to rely on drinking water sources that may not be safe and may also lack sufficient water for basic hygiene.
In order to manage these water resource issues, the government initiated strategies such as the application of improved rainwater collection systems and state-of-the-art desalination technologies coupled with renewable energies can be used in the Philippines. By adopting innovative and long-term solutions, the Philippines is aiming to ensure water for all that will protect the population’s health and help drive sustainable development forward. Technology applications can involve the construction and rehabilitation of water resource infrastructure or the adoption of water-efficient technologies and practices.
The coastal resources are also highly affected by climate change, through which the sea level is increased and low-lying islands can face future permanent inundation.
Some coastal communities are also threatened with further stress to coastal ecosystems and fisheries. In order to solve the issues, the government implemented adaptation measures that include physical structures such as sea walls, development and revision of land use plans using risk maps as the basis, and early warning systems for severe weather, including advisories on storm surge probabilities, as well as planning for and developing resilient livelihoods.
Health is one of the most vital aspects which can be severely affected by climate change. Climate change has driven increases in diseases - particularly vector and waterborne diseases.
In response to the issue, the government has given priority to climate change/health as one of the main research funding topics. There are also strategies that address health and climate change, and to build both social and physical health infrastructure that are climate-proof and reduce the health vulnerabilities to climate change of a Philippine population. Some new electronic health technologies are also a focus for investment – that can also improve the detection, surveillance, and reporting of disease outbreaks, thus facilitating prevention and treatment.
Climate Change Policies
The Philippines has implemented climate change into government policy and planning with the 2009 Climate Change Act, which requires local government units (LGUs) to draft local climate change action plans (LCCAPs).
In addition, the Climate Change Commission (CCC), a policy-making body of the government, aims to coordinate, monitor and evaluate government programs and ensure mainstreaming of climate change in national, local, and sectoral development plans towards a climate-resilient and the climate-smart Philippines.
The CCC developed the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) in 2010 to consolidate climate policy across all levels of government and to guide national programs.
Under the coordination of CCC, one of the key plans is the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NCCAP), which serves as the lead policy document guiding the climate agenda at all levels of government from 2011–2028. Its key actions focus on seven thematic outcomes, including food security, water sufficiency, ecological and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy, and knowledge and capacity development.
Climate change policies on disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) and Climate change adaptation (CCA) are considered as appropriate mechanisms for addressing climate-related disaster risk prevention.
This page will showcase the relationship between the EU and Philippines and relevant projects on climate change.
EU-Philippines bilateral relationship
The EU and Philippines have built a long-term relationship focusing on governance, job creation, renewable energy, and assistance to vulnerable populations, including in Mindanao which is the poorest region of the Philippines and has been affected by conflicts and population displacement. In July 2019, ASEAN and the EU reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen cooperation on shared regional and global challenges related to the protection of the environment and climate change. The main areas of cooperation include mitigation, adaptation, long-term strategies and sustainable finance in relation to climate change.
The section below highlights a selection of relevant projects focusing on climate change.
Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project (PhilCCAP)
The Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project (PhilCCAP) was a grant between the World Bank and the government of the Republic of the Philippines. It sought to improve resilience in the agricultural and natural resources sectors and to protect associated support infrastructure. The project utilized available technology in producing information on risks and vulnerabilities, supporting in the selection and design of appropriate adaptation measures.
This aimed to increase communities’ adaptive capacity by improving: farm management capability under conditions of climate risk; access to information on weather forecasting and climate patterns; access to risk management options such as weather index insurance; and strengthening ecosystems.
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
GGGI has partnered with the Climate Change Commission (CCC), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Provincial Governments since 2011. The main objectives are to support the Philippines in its transition toward climate-resilient and inclusive green growth. The programme is designed in response to the dynamics of the government - accelerating the implementation of green growth policies through structuring projects and facilitating their financing.
Climate Change Risk Profile Philippines, USAID, 2017
Impacts of Climate Change on Household Food Securityin the Philippines, FAO, 2014
Technologies to Support Climate Change Adaptation In Developing Asia, ADB, 2014
An Institutional Collaboration for the Formulation of the Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation, ACCBIO,
Getting A GRIP on Climate Change in the Philippines, World Bank, 2013
Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project, PhilCCAP, 2017