Climate change official urges relocation of coastal settlers

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/27 June) – People living in low-lying and coastal areas should begin moving out now in anticipation of the likely impact of climate change, an official warned alluding to the projected rise in sea levels once polar ice melts as a result of higher atmospheric temperatures due to the phenomenon called global warming.

Presidential Assistant on Climate Change Elisea Gozun said a rise in sea waters and other disasters will endanger people living in these areas.

Speaking at the two-day climate change forum on June 23 and 24 here, Gozun urged local government units and other agencies to undertake the necessary steps to safeguard the lives of coastal dwellers.

“Maybe it’s hard for you to understand why you need to move especially if you’ve lived there all your lives, but the reality is, we live in a changing world, in a changed world. We can no longer rely on historical data that we’re lived here for long, 30 years already and things like these have never happened,” she said in mixed English and Tagalaog.

Gozun stressed that the effects of the climate change are gradually being felt, adding the forecasts have warned that low-lying areas in the country are really at high risk.

“Those leaving along the coastlines, depending on where they are and how near the sea they are and for those actually living on the sea itself and are staying in below sea level areas or already right now residing in areas that get inundated, the only way you can safeguard yourselves is really to move out down the line,” she advised.

She said one way to reduce the impact of climate change is through such measures as planting more mangroves as these can serve as natural barriers to storm surge and rising sea level.

“Nakikiusap po ako na intindihin natin why we should actually relocate. We should not wait for the disasters to happen. We do not want to have climate refugees later on. Let’s plan for this because we know it is likely to happen,” she stressed.

Gozun’s office is currently spearheading the advocacy on promoting greater awareness on climate change.

She said the number one objective of the national government is to develop a more climate resilient Philippines, as the impacts of climate change are reportedly already having major adverse impacts on the country.

“The priority action for us is really to adapt to this so we can be resilient so that our economic growth will continue and we can alleviate poverty in the country,” she added.

The forum was organized by the Ateneo de Zamboanga University and the Commission on Higher Education regional office and was attended by different sectors from all over Region IX. (MindaNews)