Drive vs climate change to kick off in Surigao

A community-driven campaign for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction dubbed "Depensa!" will be launched in Surigao City tomorrow.

Spearheaded by Oxfam and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) the Depensa! campaign aims to create high community awareness and action on the need for climate change adaptation and to call on government to take the lead in protecting public welfare and advancing real sustainable development in a climate changing world.

"Rolling out a campaign calling for the defense of livelihoods and ecosystems is urgent," said iCSC's director Red Constantino. "In Mindanao, the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt from extreme weather events that cause floods or severe drought, especially in the areas of Agusan Sur, Agusan Norte, and Sultan Kudarat, adversely affecting agricultural production and settlements. On the other hand, coastal communities in Surigao Sur are in danger of rising sea and tidal levels," according the Marie Madamba-Nunez of Oxfam.

Oxfam's Mindanao Program currently supports partners in ensuring that sustainable livelihoods of small rural producers are protected and resilient from natural and human-induced disasters in selected areas in the region. Climate change impacts in the Philippines are expected to intensify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which are projected to hit vulnerable communities, particularly women in rural areas, disproportionately.

The Depensa! campaign supports bills filed in the Senate and House of Representatives seeking to establish a People's Survival Fund (PSF). The PSF intends to finance adaptation programs and projects of local governments and communities. By crafting adaptation plans based on climate vulnerability, the PSF incentivizes early local adaptation action. "The PSF is critical to communities, who should not have to wait for the occurrence of climate change-induced calamities before they are able to access funds to cope with anticipated climatic impacts. Neither should they have to tap budgets for essential social services in order to fund adaptation initiatives," said Lourd de Veyra of Dakila, an artist collective supporting the Depensa! campaign.

Most of the deadliest and damaging typhoons that hit the Philippines occurred in the last two decades, with an estimated cost of over P92 billion in direct damages. Yet the cost of devastation brought about just by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng to crops, property and infrastructure was estimated to be around P207 Billion. Costs linked to the devastation wrought by typhoon Juan reached almost P12 billion, largely hitting rice production. "We expect the Depensa! campaign to contribute key lessons and opportunities during this critical time, when government is undertaking discussions about the country's budget and its medium-term development plan," Constantino said.

The Depensa! launch will be held at Philippine Gateway Hotel in Surigao City. Local government, communitiy representatives and civil society groups, largely from Mindanao, and members of the legislature will be attending the meeting, including representatives of the executive such as the Climate Change Commission. Oxfam works to alleviate poverty and suffering in the Philippines and in other countries around the world. The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based think tank working on fair climate policy and sustainable energy solutions. (Goldstar Daily)

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