CEBU CITY – The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is now raising the capacity of local government units (LGUs) in the country to implement climate change action plans next year that will be financed through the P1 billion People’s Survival Fund (PSF). CCC Secretary Lucille Sering said that the Department of Budget and Management, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and her office recently signed a joint memorandum circular to track climate change expenditure in the local budget. The signing boosted CCC’s effort to disseminate information about climate change programs and activities to vulnerable LGUs.  “By next year, we are looking that 50% of vulnerable towns and cities will comply with the policy directive,” Sering told reporters at the sidelines of climate change workshop for Visayas journalists held this city on October 13.

The PSF is now ready for release, but the CCC makes sure that local officials are capable of utilizing the budget properly, Sering added. The P1 billion fund will focus on providing technical assistance to 4th to 6th class towns where local resources are not enough to hire experts to support less competent planning officers.  “Capacity building is twice or three times more valuable than putting up hard infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of climate change. It requires political will especially if it would affect their development agenda,” Sering added.

The assistance will concentrate on local government’s harmonization of climate change mitigation, disaster response and development plans. The official noted that many climate change-related projects proposed by LGUs are just regular infrastructure, without scientific considerations, such as two-storey buildings, basketball courts, and waiting sheds. The CCC secretary emphasized the need to adapt climate change strategies since it would be more costly if the government would act late. Approved in 2012, the PSF provides the long-term finance streams to enable the government to effectively address the impacts of climate change.
The fund can be used to implement local climate change action plans and make communities more resilient to climate-induced disasters, according to the CCC.

Adaptation activities are related to water resources management, land management, agriculture and fisheries, health, infrastructure development, natural ecosystems and capacity building. In 2009, the government enacted the Philippine Climate Change Act (CCA). After a year, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act was passed, complementing the CCA. Planning took place in 2011 and it was followed with a climate tagging in 2012. This year is the issuance of supplemental guideline for CCA implementation.

“We really work hard on this because we have a timeline, but we can only have this implemented in 2015. We will start the compliance monitoring early next year. We might be surprised that a lot of them have complied already,” Sering added. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)