The report entitled “Getting a Grip on Climate Change in the Philippines” is a comprehensive document on the climate change impacts on the Philippines and the implementation of the climate agenda.
The report is a narrative of the review that the World Bank, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) conducted to assess gaps and accelerate the implementation of the climate agenda.
It presents the challenges the Philippine government faces in integrating climate change into its policies, funding, implementation, and the framework for monitoring and evaluating success or gaps in climate activities.
Through the DBM and CCC, the Philippine government consulted with the World Bank to conduct the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR).
Between February 2012 and March 2013, the CPEIR sought to identify innovations in policy, institutions, and financing of climate action, along with achievements, limitations and disconnects in the current approaches to addressing climate issues and policy (Getting A Grip, 2013).
The review came up with recommendations and guidance, particularly on policy innovation and finance of climate action. The World Bank has recommended a finance reform that will increase transparency and accountability in public climate financing, among other recommendations, the report says.
We have taken some notes from the World Bank CPEIR report, which provides a comprehensive review of the climate initiative that the Philippines has undertaken.
The vulnerability of the Philippines to climate change and climate hazards
Global climate change is taking its toll on the Philippines – the third most vulnerable country to sea-level rise and extreme weather events by its location, climate, and topography. The country is exposed to climate hazards like typhoons, floods, landslides, and droughts. Sixteen of its provinces belong to Southeast Asia’s top 50 most vulnerable regions.
The report points out who will be the most impacted by climate change:
- The poorest are those living in coastal areas and the urban population, particularly flooding, because of a less secure infrastructure. Climate change will reduce access to clean water, and the lack of health insurance will make matters worse.
- Agricultural productivity will decline due to climate-related events, and diminishing yields in fishery activities will result from warming oceans and acidification of coral reefs.
Other factors that will exacerbate the impacts of climate change are rapid environmental deterioration, unsustainable agriculture and fishing practices, and population growth.
The urgency to implement climate reforms and actions
Because of these vulnerabilities, there is an urgency to implement climate reforms, according to the report. It will reduce risks to the country’s future development plans while contributing to broader development goals.
For example, investing and promoting renewable sources will lower energy costs and increase energy security. These climate adaptation measures will benefit the environment and the resources it provides.
The report also shows the government’s emphasis on adaptation and consolidating it with its disaster risk reduction program.
The report claims that implementing Climate Change Action and Integrating it into Government policies presents a massive challenge.
According to the report, the Philippine government seeks to integrate climate change into its national and local policy formulation and development by promulgating the Climate Change Act in 2009.
This law created the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to formulate the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change and the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP). The report says the latter serves as the roadmap to climate action at all levels of the government.
The report mentions some of the challenges that the Philippine government is facing in integrating and implementing climate change actions:
- “Climate policy reform efforts are only partially aligned with development plan outcomes, thereby limiting effectiveness”. The report says that a climate activity in one policy or plan may not be considered as such in another. This makes monitoring and coordinating climate activities across all government departments and levels challenging.
- There are no clear roles and responsibilities across government institutions to implement and coordinate climate actions.
- There is a lack of institutional capacity, knowledge, management, and monitoring and evaluation for the success of climate change activities.
- At the local level, the development of climate change plans is an additional burden to its other pressing developmental needs.
- For capacity building, information and knowledge are needed at the national and local levels.
Is there enough climate financing from the government and development partners?
Despite the challenges in implementing and coordinating climate activities, funding for climate change projects has increased, according to the report.
There is an increase in government financing for prioritised activities and projects. External funding from development partners has supported flood control projects that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) managed.
The climate budget has increased, which reflects deep concern for climate change. From 2008 to 2012, the budget increased from Php 12 billion to Php 35 billion, which is 1.9 per cent of the national budget. And it has grown yearly since at 26 per cent annually.
These funding appropriations go to the government’s investments in flood control, the national greening program, electric vehicle projects in 2012, the Philippine Rice Research Institute, and other smaller projects like promoting organic agriculture.
Are funds for climate projects being used?
Although the climate budget has significantly increased, there are still financing gaps and funding inadequacies, as shown in the government’s public investment fund, according to the World Bank report. The government’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) revealed that appropriation for some projects had not been used or secured.
For example, the report claims that significant funding pledges in the agriculture and fishery sectors, the energy sector with the renewable energy project, and the environment and natural resource sector were not ‘mobilised’.
Other minor activities were not funded, like ecosystem stability, water security, research on climate-resilient crop varieties, and a climate database.
“Local Government Units are action-oriented, but available funding sources are fragmented, and their available amounts are limited.”
The report says that the local government units (LGUs) are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts yet have the least capacity to provide support under the current revenue-sharing arrangement.
Seventy per cent of its income is from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), a direct transfer of funds from the national government.
- Funding climate change action is challenging because financial sources have different rules and eligibility criteria, making it hard for the LGUs to mobilise and monitor resources.
- Climate projects and activities compete with existing development burdens and challenges that the LGUs face, such as high poverty levels and environmental deterioration, which have become its priority.
- Additionally, the Local Government Code explicitly states that the Local Development Fund be used in the Local Development Plans, the report says.
Funds for Climate Mitigation are also increasing.
Since 2008, climate appropriations have focused on adaptation measures, but allocation on mitigation has gradually increased as well. The report also notes that despite increases to the national Calamity Fund, most of it is spent on the response, recovery, and rehabilitation instead of disaster prevention.
Climate change and how the country tackles the problem through its policies, budgeting, and implementation present a considerable challenge to the country already facing many issues.
What the CPEIR recommends
Below are brief outlines of the recommendations and action plans to result from the Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR), a joint exercise conducted by the World Bank and critical sectors of the Philippine government.
- Strengthening the planning, execution and financing frameworks for climate change. No single mechanism exists to unify climate change activities into its policy and financing methods. Tagging climate activities and programs to identify them in the budget and management process is one way to integrate them into the government’s existing policies and budget.
- Enhancing accountability through monitoring, evaluating, and reviewing climate change policies and activities.
- Building capacity and managing change.
The report serves as a benchmark and basis for climate change actions in the Philippines. It presents the fiscal and policy situation in the Philippines and the challenges it faces in integrating and implementing the climate change agenda into its various government levels and department.
What are the underlying challenges the Philippines is facing
While we cannot come up with conclusive thoughts based merely on the report cited here, and considering the possible developments that might have transpired since 2013 when the report came out, we can only posit some questions.
What and how do the prevailing bureaucracy in the Philippines and the often complicated administrative procedures in most levels of government, the government departments having their policies and procedures, affect the integration, funding, and implementation of climate change?
How will any city, province, or barangay (village) improve the implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation programs amidst the alleged culture of corruption in the government?
The success or failure of a policy or reform depends on the current elected officials and their appointed cabinet or administrative officials. Misallocation and misuse of government funds by elected public officials is daily news and knowledge in the Philippines (“High-profile Philippines Senator,” 2014).
It is worth noting that this report was published in June 2013, five months before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013.
Despite the Climate Change Act of 2009, the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), and the Disaster Risk Reduction program, the national government relief and rehabilitation efforts and continuing program after the Typhoon Yolanda disaster have been criticised as slow and unsatisfactory (“Typhoon Haiyan,” n.d., “Criticism of government response”).
From an observer’s point of view, implementing the climate agenda is daunting because of the state of government and its reported hardships in managing disasters and calamities. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are national, provincial and city leaders who are rising to the critical occasion, either on a per climate change event basis or on the long-term sustainable climate programs.
Perhaps a continuing education and exposure to organisations from other countries and cultures that exemplify good governance, people empowerment, economy, and infrastructure management are significantly needed.
The Philippines is a country endowed with many resources, capabilities, and the best potential to get a firm grip on climate change.
The World Bank. Washington, D.C. (2003, June). Getting a Grip on Climate Change in the Philippines. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/EAP/Philippines/Final%20ExReport.pdf
Philippines Is Haunted by Chaos of Earlier Storm as Typhoon Mangkhut Hits (2018, September 14), The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/world/asia/typhoon-mangkhut-philippines-haiyan.html
Exclusive: Roxas: Charges of ‘Yolanda’ fund misuse ‘fake news (2018, November 19), CNN Phililppines. [article]. Retrieved from http://nine.cnnphilippines.com/incoming/2018/11/19/mar-roxas-yolanda-allegations-fake-news.html
High-profile Philippines senator arrested for misuse of government funds (2014, June 21), ABC News. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-20/philippines-corruption/5539874
Hays, J. (2015, June). Facts and Details: Politics in the Philippines [article]. Retrieved from http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Philippines/sub5_6f/entry-3904.html
Typhoon Haiyan. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 17 October 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Haiyan
Header background image: Boracay Grotto, Philippines by Karl Hipolito
Featured image: Philippine Sights by Jade Jarbadan
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