Bukidnon creates climate change body

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 9 April) – The Bukidnon provincial government has created the Ecological Solid Waste Management Board (ESWMB) and the Provincial Climate Change Committee (PCCC) with the issuances by Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. of executive orders 11 and 12, respectively, last month.

The PCCC’s technical working group (TWG) will meet for the first time on April 11 in preparation for the drafting of the framework strategy on climate change, according to Engr. Robert Tado of the Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Tado told MindaNews Wednesday that the organization of the PCCC will come ahead of the ESWM. Funding for the PCCC will be taken from the Climate Change budget allocation, Human Ecology System, Disaster Risk Reduction Fund and other sources included in the provincial annual investment plan, according to Executive Order 12.

The order provided that the creation of the body is in compliance with Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009, which provides among others for the provincial government to formulate climate change action plans.

Section 14 of the law requires LGUs to provide technical assistance, enforcement and information management in support of the municipal and city climate change action plans through inter-local government unit collaboration.

Ma. Easterluna Canoy, executive director of the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, which is included as member of the committee, said she hoped the creation will go beyond compliance.

“Compliance with due action that’s what I need to see. (They should) get stakeholders to be involved in the process,” she added. Canoy said the TWG will play an important role not (just) to put things in writing or as a policy but in shaping programs.

Zubiri cited in the order that the committee will also promote broader multi-stakeholder participation in the formulation of the framework strategy for climate change, initiate integration of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in Local Development Plans and policies, recommend across sectors key development investments in climate sensitive sectors such as water resources, agriculture, forestry, health and infrastructure.

The committee is also tasked to establish linkage with concerned national and local government agencies, civil society organizations, and funding institutions in the exercise of its functions.

The PCCC will be chaired by the provincial governor with the provincial board committee chair on environmental protection/climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness as co-chair.

Canoy added that it is a “wait and see” from then on.

She said it is important to know “how much our officials understand climate change and the disasters that just come in.”

She added that it is high time for them to move and “ensure our chances to respond in full gear”.

Canoy said the response should be in the light of food security and also village level preparedness, where the communities will choose to be saviors rather than victims being taken away by the calamities. She said preparation on the kinds of traditional and early warning systems and social mobilization or assembling of “lifeguards” is also important.

Canoy, who will be in the committee, vowed to continue to advocate for “climate proofed and ecosystems-based adaptation, for climate financing to communities at high risk to the adversities of disasters.”

When the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan included climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness among four new areas among in its existing committees last year, Canoy said she hoped the move is “not for compliance and cosmetic adjustment only.”

“I hope the provincial government included climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness [due to the] urgency of the problem,” she told MindaNews in July 2013.

But Canoy noted that it is still a welcome move even if it came “quite late” for a province that is supposed to be “advanced” in climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster preparedness.

Canoy said it should translate into policies that would create climate change interventions and programs, which she noted should not endanger the natural habitat and existing resources of the province.

“The move should result in the implementation of climate compatible development projects,” Canoy added.

Provincial board member Jay Albarece, chair of the committee on rules and privileges, said then that the it is high time to create the committee with the present climate change situation.

The committee on climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness was lumped with the committee on environmental protection, chaired by board member Alfeo Baguio of the third district.

Baguio will co-chair the PCCC with Zubiri.

The members of the PCCC include the Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator, the Provincial Health Officer, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer, the Provincial Agriculturist, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial director, a representative from the civil society organizations referred to as the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Malaybalay, from the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN), from Bukidnon State University, the provincial officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), district engineer from the Department of Public Works and Highways, the provincial head of the Department of Education, the president of the Indigenous Peoples Organization, and the president of the women’s federation.