Davao to enact climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction in one ordinance

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Sept) – The committee on environment and natural resources of the city council here will combine disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in one ordinance.

Councilor Marissa Abella, chairperson of the committee, claimed the city will be the first local government unit (LGU) that will have an ordinance combining disaster risk reduction and management, and climate change adaptation once the proposed ordinance is approved.

A proposed ordinance on disaster risk reduction and management already passed in the first reading last year, she said, and while it is being scheduled for committee hearings, the climate change adaptation measures will be incorporated in the ordinance.

One of the advantages in combining the two concerns is that climate change adaptation will get a share of the funding for disaster risk reduction and management that will be allotted from the city’s calamity fund, Abella added.

She said the councilors have yet to attend a lecture on such environmental issues that will be given by advocates from the Manila Observatory, and LGU of Albay, Bicol, which has successfully practiced disaster risk reduction.

Concerned groups actively advocating against air pollution said Monday the city needs a climate change ordinance that will address not only air pollution but also waste water and solid waste.

Engineer Eddie Fuentes, president of the Association of Pollution Control Officers in Mindanao, Inc., said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will implement its climate change program here after a local legislation.

He said the USAID, which created the Clean Cities Davao Coalition – composed of transport groups, academe and all other sectors – to support the enactment of Republic Act No. 9367 or the Biofuels Act of 2006, shifted its campaign to climate change.

Vir Sangutan, of the Clean Cities Davao Coalition, said former councilor Leo Avila proposed a climate change ordinance, which had not been enacted as his term ended.

Avila said in a text message it was a joint proposal with Councilor Peter Laviña to create a Climate Change Office that will coordinate all related activities and policies, and indeed, his term ended before it was enacted.

He added: “Climate change is part of our training programs that we share to farmers and to our personnel and as part of the activities of the Crop Protection Unit of the City Agriculturist’s Office.”

Juland Suazo, public information officer of environmentalist group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, cited climate change indicators “that are obvious to be ignored” such as flooding, sea-level rise, tidal waves, landslides, decline of fruit production such as durian, and 47-percent decrease of rice production “though primarily due to land use conversion but [climate change] exacerbated it.”

He mentioned that Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, during his term as city mayor, signed an executive order in 2010 creating the Task Force Climate Change.

“But no significant activities and outcomes happened after the signing. It’s not enough. We need a road map,” Suazo said.

Reacting to a combined disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation ordinance proposed by Abella, he said it has to be reviewed further using a rights-based approach.

“A climate change adaptation policy and program must aptly address the rights and welfare of vulnerable sectors such as urban poor, farmers and lumad (indigenous people). It means the policy must be integrated with pro-poor programs ensuring housing rights, land reform, food security, and poverty reduction. These sectors are not responsible for climate crisis due to elite plunder of resources but they’re gravely affected,” he said.

He said with an ongoing public hearing for comprehensive development plan and zoning, development and land use plans must be revisited to make it climate-resilient.

“The ordinance must empower the people, especially the urban poor, farmers, and lumad who are the most vulnerable. It means upholding and protecting their rights and welfare,” he told MindaNews. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)