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DENR coastal management program receives support from Germany

THE German government is supporting a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) program that will make coastal management more prominent in the development plans of local government units (LGUs), the DENR said.

The DENR and the German government expect the focus on coastal management to better protect 70% of the population from storm surges, floods, and other life-threatening impacts of climate change.

“Having an integrated coastal management plan means that coastal communities can effectively protect, maintain, and sustain their coastal resources,” according to Rhodora May Sumaray-Raras, policy advisor for the German Environment Ministry’s coastal protection project in Western Visayas, as implemented by the German development cooperation company Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and its partners, writing in an e-mail Sunday.

Ms. Sumaray-Raras added that the program hopes to widen the use of scientific methods in coming up with environmental risk assessments, coastal zoning and spatial planning, and the economic valuation of natural resources.

The storm surge accompanying by typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in November 2013 killed about 6,000 people in Tacloban City, while leaving 4.1 million people homeless and 1,800 missing.

The German government has also partnered with Bohol province, the Bohol Island Development Foundation, and the Zoological Society of London in providing training on mangrove rehabilitation, the management of marine protected areas, the establishment of mangrove nurseries, law enforcement, and awareness campaigns to protect coastal resources.

Coastal resources such as mangroves, beach forests, and coral reefs are natural buffer systems that shield people from typhoons, storm surges, and other coastal hazards.

“Integrated coastal management is one of the region’s priorities under the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment… a number of national and local government authorities have been applying an Integrated Coastal Management system,” ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Executive Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said.

In a mobile message on Sunday, Climate Reality Project Philippines Manager Nazrin D. Castro said: “Sea level rise, together with other climate change impacts and natural hazards such as ocean acidification, saltwater intrusion, coral bleaching, and coastal flooding, will continue to threaten the lives and the economic lifeline of most of our coastal communities.”

She said the National Government must “provide LGUs with the necessary technical and financial assistance to develop science-based and risk-informed Local Climate Change Action Plans, Comprehensive Land Use Plans, Comprehensive Development Plans, and Annual Investment Plans.”

Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities Deputy Executive Director Kairos T. dela Cruz in an e-mail interview Sunday that is also important “to look beyond episodic events such as typhoons and storm surges and to focus on long-term planning opportunities around slow onset events (SOEs) such as sea-level rise, increase in sea temperature, and acidification.”

Mr. Dela Cruz said SOEs are small and incremental but are “even more dangerous than episodic extremes, enough to make communities inhabitable and bankrupt provincial regional economies.”

He added that since there is no “death toll or drama on TV,” SOEs are often neglected by the government and there is no budget for such events even though they can damage vulnerable communities irreparably in the long run. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

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