BIMP-EAGA environment cluster OKs climate change proposal

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – A proposal by the Philippines to implement a US$ 1.2-million environment project in the BIMP-EAGA was adopted by the sub-regional cooperation’s environment cluster, a government official confirmed.

Janet Lopoz, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said the project seeks to make people in the BIMP-EAGA more adaptable to climate change by building the resilience of local communities and enhance their disaster preparedness measures.

“The proposal’s main thrust is to lessen the impact of climate change, with the prime goal of preventing environmental disasters within the region,” Lopoz said in a statement early this week.

Titled “Building Local Community Resilience in BIMP-EAGA for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Preparedness,” the Philippines presented the proposal during the 3rd BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting held in May in Sandakan, Malaysia.

She said that environmental disasters can be prevented by implementing projects that strengthen disaster risk management and develop efficient response mechanisms in addressing environmental issues within BIMP-EAGA.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area, a key strategy to accelerate social and economic development of less developed areas in participating countries.

An EAGA-wide policy on climate change adaptation and mitigation will be formulated based on key outputs of the proposal, including climate change-proofing of infrastructures, resulting in local communities that are more resilient to environmental disasters, according to the MinDA statement.

The policy will also push for the sustainable management, protection, and utilization of the region’s natural resources, it added.

Lopoz explained that within BIMP-EAGA, there is the strong need to address issues among the river basins of each member country, where the rivers flow from water sources to estuaries that lead towards the main bodies of water that surround the sub-region.

“Water is a shared resource among all EAGA countries, and our ecosystems are in a way interconnected with each other,” she noted.

The project, which will be implemented in a span of three years, also incorporates capacity building on humanitarian assistance and disaster response leading to the development of disaster preparedness action plans at the community level.

It also aims to strengthen Customs-Immigration-Quarantine-Security mechanisms for disaster response, and establish resource centers for information sharing on climate change and disaster risk reduction within the four countries of the sub-region.

Lopoz said the US$1.2-million budget will be spread across 11 critical watersheds and river basins and seven coastal areas in the sub-region.

Located within the Coral Triangle, BIMP-EAGA is part of the global epicenter of marine species diversity that is considered as the “Amazon of the seas.”

The triangle is home to a combined population of over 350 million people and is recognized as a global priority for conservation.

Due to its geographic location, the region is considerably sensitive to the effects of climate change and is vulnerable to possible natural and environmental disasters.

“This proposal consolidates all efforts from across the sub-region, and prioritizes programs and projects that will lessen the impact of climate change while ensuring environmental integrity in the area,” said Lopoz.

The proposal’s final draft is expected to be endorsed within this month to the senior officials of BIMP-EAGA for approval and eventual implementation. (MindaNews)