SLOW ONSET

CLIMATE CHANGE
IMPACTS:

What it is, why should we care, and
what we can do about it

SLOW ONSET
CLIMATE CHANGE
IMPACTS:
What it is, why should we care, and what we can do about it

1

Introducing
the new logo:
basic English versions
There are four versions of the basic logo:
1 red with white type (main version)
2 black with white type
(for one-colour/low-cost jobs, or
occasionally for four-colour jobs where
appropriate. For example, for more
reflective or youth applications – see black
majority churches leaflet, 05 03)
3 white with red type
4 white with black type
(3 and 4 only for use on
dark backgrounds)

2

3

4

Minimum logo size
Use the logo as big as possible in the
context of your design. The minimum size
you can use it is 20mm across.
File names: christian aid (CA) no strap
1 red logo
CA_red_CMYK.eps (C0 M100 Y100 K0)
CA_red_PMS.eps (Pantone 485)
CA_red_RGB.eps (R255 G0 B0, hexadecimal FF0000)
2 black logo
CA_bla.eps (C0 M0 Y0 K100)
3 white logo (red CA)
CA_whi_CMYK.eps (C0 M100 Y100 K0)
CA_whi_PMS.eps (Pantone 485)

“I think that if a scientist, politician,
or any public figure disagrees
with the scientific consensus, it is
irresponsible to not first acknowledge
that a scientific consensus actually
exists… Scientific consensus is not
a vague marker of public opinion; it
is the result of a deeply skeptical
process geared toward transparency
and evidence.”
– Lawrence Torcello,

philosopher and academic

Executive Summary

4

PART 1

6

PART 2

9

What is SOI

What’s at Stake
- Food security
- Loss and Damage

PART 3

What’s Being Done: Initiatives and Efforts

18

- Farmers in Iguig
- Fishermen along the coast

PART 4

22

What Needs to be Done
RESEARCH, MONITORING, DATABASE GENERATION,
DOCUMENTATION, NEW EQUIPMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY:
Views from the experts
COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLANNING
EDUCATION/AWARENESS RAISING
ROLE OF Local Government Units (LGUs)
COORDINATION
INVESTING IN PEOPLE
VALUES and VISION
COMMUNICATION
The role of Adaptation Finance in managing SOI

28

Executive Summary
This paper contains scientific and anecdotal
evidence, and expert and grassroots
recommendations brought about by the questions:
What are we doing about Slow Onset Impacts (SOI)
or the long-term effects of climate change? Why
should we do more? And what steps should be taken
to meet this challenge?
There are two kinds of climate change events:
“rapid onset” (extreme episodic disasters) and
“slow onset” (chronic hazards) events. The former
are what we are more familiar with, what with the
massive devastation left behind by typhoons such as
Ondoy, Pablo, and Yolanda. The latter (prolonged
drought, increasing precipitation, sea level rise, and
changes in ocean temperature, among others) are
not so evident. They can, however, be just as deadly.
Often more so.
Unfortunately for the Philippines and in
most countries, a fixation on the short-term
climatic impacts has been observed throughout
the development of climate change initiatives.
According to Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant
Director General for Natural Resources, "Currently
the world is focused on dealing with shorter-term
climate impacts caused mainly by extreme weather
events."
This fixation is understandable—after all, it is
human nature to focus on the immediate, which is
seemingly more urgent. It is easier and much more
expected to respond to something seen and which
inspires more emotion, than to work on something
which takes years to take effect.
However, as this paper will show, a failure to
understand the urgency of Slow Onset Impacts will
severely affect the country’s food security, biodiversity, ecosystems, and culture (due to cultural
loss and migration), posing potentially irreparable
loss and damage to infrastructure, human lives (due

to decrease of personal security and health), and the
economy.
Recent scientific reports say that: “Continued
emission of greenhouse gases will cause further
warming and long-lasting changes in all components
of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of
severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people
and ecosystems."
The 2012/2013 Human Development Report by
the Philippine Human Development Network tells
us, “To some degree, communities may be comforted
by the knowledge that because episodic events
… are ‘familiar’ to the external sector (national
and international agencies), well-oiled disaster
response mechanisms (e.g., resource mobilization)
are likely to come to their aid. The same cannot
be said for responses to... [s]low-onset changes
in average annual precipitation—more rainfall
here, less there—[that] will affect ecosystems
and agricultural productivity in the long term,
in profound ways. Because such impacts will not
necessarily be accompanied by or reach the scale of
severe flooding or catastrophic events, funding for
response measures or anticipatory adaptive programs
may not necessarily be readily available, if at all. Sea
level rise will likewise impact coastal communities
profoundly; water resources will be affected by
salinity, land areas by increased susceptibility to
erosion and storm surges. The change in the ocean
chemistry will impact food chains. In the overall,
risks in food and water security will be amplified.”
Scientific reports project a 1.5- to 4-degree
Celsius increase in global mean temperature from
now till 2100. This could go up to a catastrophic six
degrees if global emissions are not curbed, and data
from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and
Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)
show that this will create an increase in weather–

4

E x

ec u ti v

e

related disasters and a change in precipitation
patterns that will translate to shifts in the location,
frequency, severity, and duration of dry and wet
seasons in the Philippines.
This paper intends to shed light on the country's
response, or lack of it, to Slow Onset Impacts.
It should propel concerted action among policy
makers, through budget interventions and structural
changes that can make development more durable.
Key areas for focus:
• Monitoring stations. Most of the knowledge
we have on local climate change impacts are
interpretations of local communities, which vary.
Expert climatologists insist the first requirement
of research is an adequate network of weathermonitoring stations manned by qualified technicians
that record and synthesize detailed observations of
changes in rainfall, temperature, and other similar
natural phenomena.
• Data. We lack not only the proper kind of data;
we also lack the amount to unequivocally quantify
and predict impacts of climate change—and to
formulate comprehensive mitigation and integrated
adaptation measures through proper scientific
modeling, not just generally accepted knowledge.
• Infrastructure that works and lasts. We need
research to create more locally specific, sustainable
designs to protect communities against impacts
of climatic events, that can then take into
consideration parameters like velocity of water
flow—or other hazards, like flooding—alongside
the specific strength of the materials with which
they build roads in certain areas.
• Food security. An evaluation of the adaptability
of our crops in relation to increases in temperature,
rainfall, and rainfall patterns in specific locales will
help us know what kind of crops will thrive, what

S

u

mma r y

kind should be replaced, and what help we need
from modern technology.
• Preservation of community, culture, and
ecosystems. It is time to properly profile areas
and find sustainable solutions that help sustain
communities and preserve our culture.
• Expense. Better infrastructure planning can save
the government hundreds of millions of pesos
almost every year from having to replace damaged
roads, and climate-resilient irrigation systems.
If there is one insight that this paper wishes to
elevate, it is the urgent need to support more
research.
Experts acknowledge that the current state of
climate change research is seriously inadequate.
Studies on the causes of climate change should be
supported and in terms of better observational
equipment and sustained improvements in technical
capacity across the archipelago.
This paper takes voices from the scientific
community, academe, non-government
organizations, and local governments. It attempts
to humanize scientific and technical jargon
encountered in research, and includes a section for
self-check—a novel and perhaps risky decision for a
paper seeking policy change.
By promoting the importance of a common
language, values, and posing recommendations
anchored on practicality and doability, the paper
hopes that it will reach beyond its intended initial
readership, to be appreciated by those who will
benefit most from new policies, research, and
initiatives that might arise from this endeavor:
communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

5

PART 1

What is SOI
years or decades.” (1)
When asked about the timeframe pertaining
to Slow Onset Impacts, meteorologist and
climatologist Lourdes V. Tibig, a member of the
National Panel of Technical Experts established by
the Climate Change Commission and one of the
lead authors of the Working Group II contribution
to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5), says,
“Varying, depending on the nature of the slow onset
impacts—whether caused by changes in the rainfall,
accelerated sea level rise or even those resulting from
extreme hazards.”
Based on history, SOI does not follow a
schedule—and the severity of its effects depend
on human action. “Acceleration (of effects) could
be exponential, depending on what’s being done—
but it’s business as usual... Slow Onset is just slow
because it’s not sudden. But when you talk about the
rate of the impacts—you never know.”
It may be difficult to disassociate climate change
effects from “normal” climate variability, states

A definition of Slow Onset Impacts (SOI) is in
order.
Climate science and former Director of Philippine
Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical
Services Administration (PAGASA), Leoncio
Alhambra Amadore, PhD, gives his own: “Climate
change, itself and by its very nature, is a slow onset
event, but the extreme hazards (typhoons, heavy
rains, etc.) associated with climate change are in
themselves, sudden onset events.”
Environmental lawyer and academic Linda
Siegele explains, “Acute (sudden-onset) hazards are
those that will happen anyway, but their frequency,
severity and/or location may be changed by climate
change. These hazards tend to be of a short time
frame and high severity. Chronic (slow-onset)
hazards are caused entirely by man-made climate
change and are termed chronic because the impact
is gradual… the disaster risk reduction community
views slow onset hazards as disasters that unfold
slowly over months or several years. In the climate
change process, slow onset time scales are counted in

The philippines sea level rise three times the global average
The Philippines has seen three times the global average in sea
level rise, exacerbating its vulnerability to natural disasters,
climate experts said at a conference in Paris this week. Michael
Williams of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
said the Philippines posted the highest average increase in sea
levels, at 60 cms, against the global average of 19 cms since
the year 1901.

region to region, because of wind, because of currents in the
ocean, because of changes in the land which rises and falls.
So it so happens that in the area of the Philippines, where the
cyclone happened last year, probably because of the trade
winds and the currents of the Pacific, you have a massive
amount of water between the Philippines and where the winds
are pushing the water. The sea level rise, according to several
of the stations we have operational there, is much much more
than the global average. It's more like 60 cms, and it's the
highest sea level rise in the world."

It is a "major force of nature" against which countries like the
Philippines can do little, but, said Williams, "there's a lot to be
done with disaster risk prevention, alert systems, and so forth.
But you have to understand that there is that additional risk."

– “Warning| PH seeing highest sea level rise in the world thrice the global average, in fact,” http://www.interaksyon.
com/article/84113/warning--ph-seeing-highest-sea-level-risein-the-world---thrice-the-global-average-in-fact, April 4, 2015

Williams elaborated: "The global average of sea level rise
since the year 1900 or 1901 has been 19 cms for the last
hundred and fifteen years. However that varies widely from

6

W hat

is

S

O

I

Modified maps based on what PAGASA made in 2011 show how different regions in the Philippines will be affected by slow
onset changes in rising temperatures (by degrees Celsius). They show all areas of the Philippines will get warmer during the
summer months, with largest temperature increase during MAM (March-April-May).

(IPCC), a hydro-meteorologist, gives her own easy
explanation of slow onset events. “Slow onset events
are usually related to El Niño,” she says, referring to
the periodic weather phenomenon that affects the
regions across the Pacific, causing droughts in some
and heavy rainfall in others. “Sea level rise is also a
slow onset event. So all the accompanying hazards
of sea level rise, like coastal erosion, will change
without you knowing. Acidification, desertification.
What happens there is your soil will become too dry,
which may lead to soil desertification. But that’s a
very slow process.”
Dr. Perez reiterates that it will happen. Some will
happen in our time, our children’s time, and affect
generations after.
She continues: “And by then, it might be too late
to do anything. So we should do everything now to
prevent all of this, to prepare. Unlike storms, which
you can predict, if you don’t monitor slow onset

a paper from the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (2). But the “most clearly
distinguishable impacts of climate change are slow
onset events that will be exacerbated in the decades
to come, resulting in serious and knock-on impacts.”
These include the need to relocate communities
that will be affected by sea level rise, “which in turn
places pressure on other ecosystem zones and host
communities.”
The scientific and climate community may have
overlapping definitions, but the same message:
An understanding and appreciation of SOI can
solve many problems that are certain to take place.
Says Department of Agriculture Undersecretary
Segafredo Serrano, it can help the government form
a “very deliberate vision and learnings gleaned from
insights of the past. You can plan long-term.”
Rosa Perez, PhD, member and consultant of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

7

W hat

is

S

O

I

Maps also show projected changes in rainfall (by percentage), expected to decrease during MAM (March-April-May season), increase
during JJA (June-July-August) until SON (September-October-November) in Luzon and Visayas, and during DJF (December-JanuaryFebruary). However, there is likely to be a general decreasing trend in rainfall in Mindanao, especially by year 2050.

impacts, (their effects) will happen when you
least expect it. That’s the danger of slow onset
events.”
“It’s not a question of what will happen,”
says Undersecretary Serrano. “Whatever it is,
will happen. And the solutions are within our
reach. We shouldn’t rely on negotiations with
developed countries,” he says, referring to talks
about decreasing carbon emissions. “We need
to act with our own resources. Let’s not wait
until the impacts of slow onset events come—
we need to move now.”

PH status already at risk:
• The Philippines rank 2nd on the 2012 Global Climate
Risk Index, after Haiti. (3)

F ast
facts

• We rank 8th on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2015—
more vulnerable than Eritrea or the Central Africa Republic (4).
• We are the 5th most vulnerable country in terms of forecasted
global sea level rise (5). The Philippines expects to lose 89,000
hectares of land due to sea level rise beyond 2050 (6). According
to 18 years of satellite observation, the Philippine Sea has risen
10mm a year—compared to the world average of 3mm a year (7).

References:
1. Loss & Damage: The theme of slow onset impact, August 2012, Climate Development Knowledge Network
2. Slow onset events Technical Paper, United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, November 26, 2012
3. Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index 2014
4. Maplecroft.com, a global risk advisory firm
5. www.gov.ph/government-information-during-natural-disasters/
6. Manila Observatory, 2009
7. “Satellites trace sea level change,” September 24, 2012, Jonathan Amos, BBC News-Science and Environment

8

PART 2

What’s at Stake
SOI, brought about by global
warming, carries several risks, all of
them interconnected.
This was made evident at a 2014
Quezon City press conference
called “Climate Change: Impacts
and Imperatives” to present the
findings of Working Group 2 for
the Intergovernmental Panel for
Climate Change (IPCC) AR5
Report: Overview and Implications
in the Philippines. One of the
Working Group 2 lead authors,
Lourdes V. Tibig, who worked
for 32 years at the Philippine
Atmospheric, Geophysical,
and Astronomical Services
Administration (PAGASA) and is
currently a member of the National
Panel of Technical Experts
established by the Climate Change
Commission, herself gave the
presentation:
• Risk of death, injury, ill-health,
or disrupted livelihoods in lowlying coastal zones and small island
developing states and other small
islands, due to storm surges, coastal
flooding, and sea-level rise;
• Risk of severe ill-health and
disrupted livelihoods for large
urban populations due to inland
flooding in some regions;
• Systemic risks due to extreme
weather events leading to
breakdown of infrastructure;
networks and critical services

Definition of terms
(from The Global Warming Glossary from climatehotmap.org)
Desertification - Land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas
resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines land degradation
as a reduction or loss in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, of the biological
or economic productivity and complexity of rain-fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or
range, pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process
or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities
and habitation patterns, such as (i) soil erosion caused by wind and/or water; (ii)
deterioration of the physical, chemical, and biological or economic properties of soil;
and (iii) long-term loss of natural vegetation.
Global surface temperature - The global surface temperature is an estimate
of the global mean surface air temperature. However, for changes over time, only
anomalies, as departures from a climatology, are used, most commonly based on
the area-weighted global average of the sea surface temperature anomaly and land
surface air temperature anomaly.
Global warming - Global warming refers to the increase, observed or projected,
in global surface temperature, as one of the consequences of radiative forcing caused
by human-induced emissions.
Sea level rise (or SLR) - An increase in the mean level of the ocean. Eustatic sealevel rise is a change in global average sea level brought about by an increase in
the volume of the world ocean. Relative sea level rise occurs where there is a local
increase in the level of the ocean relative to the land, which might be due to ocean
rise and/or land level subsidence. In areas subject to rapid land-level uplift, relative
sea level can fall.
Salt-water intrusion / encroachment - Displacement of fresh surface water or
groundwater by the advance of salt water due to its greater density. This usually
occurs in coastal and estuarine areas due to reducing land-based influence (e.g.,
either from reduced runoff and associated groundwater recharge, or from excessive
water withdrawals from aquifers) or increasing marine influence (e.g., relative sea
level rise).
Salinization - The accumulation of salts in soils.
Storm surge - The temporary increase, at a particular locality, in the height of
the sea due to extreme meteorological conditions (low atmospheric pressure and/
or strong winds). The storm surge is defined as being the excess above the level
expected from the tidal variation alone at that time and place.

9

W hat

’ s

at

such as electricity, water supply, and health and
emergency services.
• Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods
of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban
populations and those working outdoors in urban or
rural areas;
• Risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food
systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and
precipitation variability and extremes, particularly
for poorer populations in urban and rural settings;
• Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to
insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water

S ta k e

and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly
for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in
semi-arid regions;
• Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems,
biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions,
and services they provide for coastal livelihoods,
especially for fishing communities in the tropics and
the Arctic; and
• Risk of loss of terrestrial and inland water
ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods,
functions, and services they provide for livelihoods.

Food security
“When supply falls below demand, somebody
doesn’t have enough food. When some people don’t
have food, you get starvation. Yes, I’m worried.”
- Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University
climate scientist, co-author, Climate Change 2014:
Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Report (1)

sector (2). “So the way we approach and surmount
the challenges of slow onset events, is that we must
breakdown the boundaries that divide what can be
our own efforts.”
Serrano disdains the gloom-and-doom story, but
his fears are echoed even by global organizations.
“Slow onset impacts are expected to bring deeper
changes that challenge the ecosystem services
needed for agriculture, with potentially disastrous
impacts on food security during the period from
2050 to 2100. Coping with long-term changes after
the fact doesn’t make sense. We must already today
support agriculture in the developing world to
become more resilient,” says Alexander Muller, FAO
Assistant-Director General for Natural Resources
(3).
Even half a meter of sea level rise would be
perilous to coconut plantations and other high
valued crops along the coastlines, where most
production areas are located, says Serrano. Salt
intrusion, or salinization, of the soil could also
happen, which can “inhibit seed germination and
plant growth, thereby reducing crop yields.” (4)

Food security is not the only issue with regard
to the effects of SOI—but it is probably the most
serious.
This, notwithstanding the fact that there are
other factors that also contribute to dwindling crop
yields. Scientist Lourdes V. Tibig points out that
“management practices, technology, government
support” are also to be considered. “What among
these factors did or did not come into play? And
that’s the kind of research that we really need to
focus on.”
“Cities cannot exist without the hinterlands
producing the food. It’s a mutual, beneficial
relationship. Sometimes maybe parasitic, but it’s
an interrelation nevertheless,” says Department of
Agriculture Undersecretary Segefredo Serrano.
Agriculture is, after all, the most climate-sensitive

1

0

W hat

’ s

at

Poses Serrano: “Imagine all your production areas
that were formerly irrigated by freshwater, now
having saltwater intrusion or your soil acidifying
because of an increase in temperatures—all these
factors are adverse to maintaining your current high
yields. Living beings, including plants and more
specifically crops, can only live within a range or
they can only be productive within an optimal range
of temperature, moisture and in the case of plants,
an optimal range of solar radiation and optimal
range of acidity. When they’re out of that range, the

S ta k e

yield will suddenly drop. Can you imagine the food
security implications if this happens?”
A report called “Agriculture Adaptation to
Climate Change: The Philippine Experience” (5)
says:
Sea level rise can also cause
• damage to coastal fisheries
• a direct loss of cultivable lands due to saltwater
inundation and salinization of soil
• salinization of water sources

The loss of shell-forming species, coral reefs, and reef-dependent fisheries affects food security, trade, and tourism. Tropical reefs support and estimate
25 percent of marine fish species and provide food and livelihood for some 500 million people worldwide (UNEP, 2010). The annual economic value of
coral reefs to world tourism is estimated at around 9.6 billion (Conservation International, 2008).

Rising temperatures can result in the following:
• Increased evapotranspiration (or “loss of
water from the soil both by evaporation and by
transpiration from the plants growing thereon,”
according to Merriam-Webster) resulting in reduced
soil moisture
• Greater destruction of crops by pests that thrive in
warmer climates
• Greater threats to livestock health
• Reduced quantity and reliability of agricultural
yields

• Greater need for cooling/refrigeration to maintain
food quality and safety
• Greater threat of wildfires
And, the following can happen due to shifting
agricultural seasons and rainfall patterns:
• Reduced quantity and quality of agricultural yields
and forest products
• Either an excess or shortage of water
• Greater needs for irrigation

1 1

W hat

FAO forecast: The Philippines is 8th
largest importer of rice
MANILA, Philippines—A 71-percent jump
in the volume of rice imports to the Philippines, totaling 1.2 million metric tons in
2014, is expected to be a key driver of a
recovery as well as a new high for global
traffic this year, according to the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The National Food Authority has called
for tenders for a total of 800,000 MT, the
biggest volume in a year so far during the
Aquino administration.
With some 400,000 MT having arrived as
part of a previous tender that closed last
December, the Philippines expects a total
of at least 1.2 million MT in 2014.
With only 700,000 MT brought in during
2013, Philippine imports are expected to
balloon by at least 70 percent this year.
Based on the FAO forecast, the Philippines would account for the eighth-largest
import volume in 2014. – “PH rice imports
to hit 1.2M metric tons in 2014,” Ronnie
Domingo, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April
14, 2014

’ s

at

S ta k e

Without new approaches to food production, says an article
in The Nation, climate change in South and Southeast Asia “is
expected to reduce agriculture productivity by as much as 50
percent in the next three decades. And with agriculture serving as
the backbone of most economies in the region, such plunging yields
would shake countries to the core.” (6)
“But of course we’re not just going to lay down and die,” says
Serrano. “You need to be able to improve crops and be scientifically
objective. Maybe enhance new ones. “We need to target crops that
can be developed to withstand these environmental pressures…
crops that can subsist under conditions like no irrigation,” he says.
The development of a new irrigation system or a crop that doesn’t
need much irrigation can save the national government 20 to 30
billion pesos a year, Serrano adds. For rice alone, he points out,
irrigation takes up 40 to 50 percent of investments in agriculture.
It must be stressed, though, that even if and when we get all the
data needed, the expertise of qualified, knowledgeable individuals
and groups to implement the most effective initiatives is essential.
Because, he says, if the Philippines suffers a sea level rise, so
will the countries from which we import rice. “They will just as
vulnerable. Vietnam, because the Mekong is there, the sea. Thailand,
India, Myanmar, Cambodia, Pakistan. Even China. Even if you’re
swimming in foreign exchange, you won’t be able to buy anything.
Even now. Only three to five percent of the total world production
of rice is traded. That’s small. It’s very thin, that’s why the price and
supply is volatile.”

Lesser-quality water, less fish and marine resources
Sea level rise also causes loss of fish habitat and reduced fish production, according to the 2014
IPCC Report. Increased sea surface temperatures (SSTs) resulting from rising air temperatures also
impact coastal economies that depend on fisheries and tourism.
Daily consumption by every Filipino on average
is about 104 gm of fish and fish products.
About 1.61 million Filipinos are engaged in
fishing. Eighty-nine percent of Filipino fisher
folk rely on their own catch from the sea as the
source of their largest portion of food, while
82 percent feed their families daily from their
fish catch. - www.infofish.org, “Country Profile
Philippines,” June 2012

1 2

W hat

’ s

at

S ta k e

Say goodbye to fish
The apocalypse has a new date? 2048?

sustain our lives at all," Beaumont adds.

That's when the world's oceans will be empty of fish, predicts an
international team of ecologists and economists. The cause: the
disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss,
and climate change.

Already, 29 percent of edible fish and seafood species have declined
by 90 percent—a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries.
….

The study by Boris Worm, PhD, of Dalhousie University in Halifax,
Nova Scotia—with colleagues in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, and Panama
—was an effort to understand what this loss of ocean species might
mean to the world.
The researchers analyzed several different kinds of data. Even to
these ecology-minded scientists, the results were an unpleasant
surprise.
"This isn't predicted to happen. This is happening now," study
researcher Nicola Beaumont, PhD, of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K., says in a news release.
"If biodiversity continues to decline, the marine environment will
not be able to sustain our way of life. Indeed, it may not be able to

Their bottom line: Everything that lives in the ocean is important.
The diversity of ocean life is the key to its survival. The areas of the
ocean with the most different kinds of life are the healthiest.
But the loss of species isn't gradual. It's happening fast—and getting faster, the researchers say.
Worm and colleagues call for sustainable fisheries management,
pollution control, habitat maintenance, and the creation of more
ocean reserves.
SOURCES: Worm, B. Science, Nov. 3, 2006; vol 314: pp 787-790.
News release, SeaWeb. News release, American Association for
the Advancement of Science. – “Saltwater fish extinction seen by
2048,” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/salt-water-fish-extinctionseen-by-2048/
Many coastal economies
depend on fisheries and
on the tourism benefits
of coral reefs, and a
loss thereof would have
substantial economic
impacts, as well as reducing marine biodiversity.
(Baker et al, 2010). Ocean
acidification interferes
with the formation of the
hard parts of corals and
some shellfish, and plates
of these organisms dissolve in the acidic water
(Caldeira and Wickett,
2013). Clams, scallops,
mussels, oysters, abalone,
and conchs provide direct
protein sources for various
island and coastal communities and are valuable
commercial fisheries.
Many of these species
show reduced growth
and/or health under
ocean acidification (UNEP
2010).

1 3

W hat

’ s

at

S ta k e

Increasing temperatures equals reduction of agricultural harvests
Sir Dave Britton of the U.K.’s Met Office was recently in town to
present the Human Dynamics of Climate Change Map (HDCC
Map), a visual diagram that shows the effects of climate change
over a century, conveniently broken down according to region.
The HDCC Map provides a snapshot on how climate change will
eventually affect weather patterns, water and food availability,
and the probability of natural disasters. It is a vital tool for
decision-makers in both industry and government as they
formulate long-term policies. For those unaware, the Met Office
is the U.K.’s equivalent to our PAGASA and one of the world’s
leading climate change centers.
First Secretary Stephen Lysaght of the British Embassy, took me
through the rather complex HDCC Map. Naturally, our discussion
centered around the Philippines. Assuming the world continues
to spew greenhouse gases at its current rate, Lysaght explains
that the Philippines could experience a rise in temperatures of
between 3 to 4.3 degrees Centigrade by the year 2100. Note
that for every one-degree increase in nighttime temperatures,

a 10 percent reduction in agricultural harvests is expected. This
could be disastrous to our food security, given our ever-increasing population.
The HDCC Map also predicts the incidence of drought to increase
by five to 20 percent, which puts incredible stress on water
availability, especially for heavily populated urban areas.
Making matters worse is that the incidence of tropical storms
will become even more unpredictable, frequent and violent. This
is because tropical clouds draw their energy from sea surfaces.
The warmer the sea surface, the more energy the clouds can
draw. In equatorial Asia, temperatures have already risen by
more than two degrees Celsius in the last 20 years, with the
likelihood to rise even further. This [partially] explains why
our storms have become increasingly stronger each year. It is
also predicted that incidence of urban flooding will increase by
77 percent. – “Low carbon economy best for the PH,” Andrew
Masigan, Manila Bulletin, November 24, 2014

How the ITCZ affects harvests
The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or Equatorial Convergence Zone or Intertropical Front—is a low pressure zone near the
equator, from about 5-degrees north and 5-degrees south. This is
where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. Depending on the season or month, it shifts from north to south (July in

the north, September on the equator, January in the south). The
Philippines is in direct line, so to speak, of the ITCZ.
According to Panahon.TV, the ITCZ does not bring gentle rainfall. It
instead brings heavy rain, thunderstorms with lightning, and a Low
Pressure Area that can affect planting seasons and harvests.

Map of ITCZ band.
Source: http://swapsushias.blogspot.
com/2014/01/allyou-wanted-to-knowof-intertropical.
html#.VIag5qSUe5L

1 4

W hat

’ s

at

S ta k e

Loss and Damage
One doesn’t have to be a climate scientist or a
disaster risk specialist to know that SOI can also
affect property and lives.
From an infrastructure perspective, that means
billions of pesos lost, and more billions of pesos
need to rebuild or rehabilitate. The total cost
of damage from Yolanda, for example, from a
Department of Public Works and Highways
(DPWH) report, is P571.11B. Estimated
reconstruction needs are pegged at P360.89B. (7)
The Disaster Risk Reduction office of
Tuguegarao, Cagayan is used to such scenarios.
Every year, they evacuate whole communities
along the Cagayan River that lie vulnerable to the
perils of erosion due to land degradation. “The
barangay of Cataggaman loses one meter a year,”
according to Angelo Suyu, designated officer of the
City Disaster Risk Reduction of Tuguegarao. Due to
scouring by flood torrents and water released from
the Magat Dam, the river has eaten into the onceagricultural and residential lands. Almost 4,000
families over six years in the Catamaggan area alone
have been displaced, according to a report furnished
to this paper by Suyu.
Other hard-hit areas are the towns of Annafunan
and Gosi; Enrile was likewise singled out for heavy
flooding.
Although the DPWH has scheduled the building
of revetment structures for the eroded areas to
ensue in January 2016, it is the research from the
Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA)
that resonates with Suyu and his colleagues from
the DRR and City Planning and Development
Coordinator's Office when asked about support.
“The project is called ‘Flood Mitigation and River
Protection,’ to be implemented in 2015,” says Suyu.
It is too early to know how big a part sea level
rise plays in the land degradation of the Cagayan
River towns, but studies suggest it would have an

1

effect on embayment and gravel transition (8). Also,
according to the Water Encyclopedia, “A rise in sea
level would affect low-lying land areas along coasts,
including river deltas and barrier islands.” (9)
The highest expected levels of sea rise are expected
along the Pacific seaboard, part of the Philippines’
coastline. Seventeen thousand kilometers of this are
vulnerable to tidal surges due to the high density
of population living in those areas, according to
a report called “Climate Change: Challenge and
Opportunities in the Philippines” (10). Seventy
percent of the country’s 1,500 municipalities live
along coastlines, the report continues, and “Storm
surges are projected to affect about 14 percent
of the total population and 42 percent of coastal
populations.”
“The countries particularly vulnerable to these
adverse effects (of climate change, especially from
slow onset hazards or processes), are low-lying
and other small island countries, countries with
low-lying coastal, arid, and semi-arid areas or areas
liable to floods, drought, and desertification, and
developing countries with fragile mountainous
ecosystems,” Linda Siegele writes in her 2012 Loss &
Damage Report (11).
“Damages can be repaid, they can be rebuilt,” says
Dr. Rosa Perez, member and consultant of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“But how about your human losses? The loss of
culture, your indigenous peoples?”
Case in point: the Sama Dilaut of the southern
Philippine provinces of Basilan, Zamboanga
and northern Sulu, a seafaring people “affected
by the phenomena of rising sea levels, which has
been causing irreparable damage and devastation
to marine and coastal ecology—the immediate
consequences of which are food shortage, unsecure
shelters, and populations pushing inland,” writes
Mucha Shim Quiling, founding directress of

5

W hat
the Lumah Ma Dilaut School for
Living Traditions, United Nations
lobbyist, and a community organizer
and cultural worker advocating for
culturally appropriate and liberating
values-based education. (12)
“In instances of environmental
migration, these indigenous
communities, after being forcibly
displaced from their home-seas,
usually seek sanctuaries by shoring
up-land and building makeshift
shelters in garbage dumps and
risky areas, living in most inhuman
conditions.
“Cases of impact of climate
change among indigenous people’s
ability to adapt were collated. In a
2010 report by Lumah Ma Dilaut
in a UNESCO-LINKS-supported
research. The report accounted for
demographic changes as the result

’ s

at

S ta k e

of massive, rapid, periodic migration
and dispersal among sea-faring
communities of Sama Dilaut in
southern Philippine provinces of
Basilan, Zamboanga, and northern
Sulu.”
The report noted “resultant
catastrophic and alarming effects
on self-instituting indigenous social
structures that threatened the
sustainability of subsistent economic
and social practices of sea nomadism,
especially in eroding the integrity
of traditional social networks and
endangering traditional knowledge
systems by rendering extinct the longcherished body of wisdom that used
to be naturally preserved through
periodic practice of living traditions.
These communal resources that
had always been accessible in living
memory of local women leaders and

Self-check: How
aware are we?
From an interview with
Rosa Perez, PhD, member
and consultant of the
Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC),
we derive questions to help
readers gauge the importance
and awareness of Slow Onset
Impacts in their respective
contexts.
1. Does your community have
the resources to meet the
challenges of
____soil degradation
____ sea level rise
____ salinization
____ lowered agricultural/
fisheries production
2. If yes, what are they?
3. What resources would
your communities lack? What
would you do to make up for
that lack?
4. Are you aware of the
other risks—aside from loss
of food security and loss
and damage—that the above
scenarios can bring?
5. Are you aware of the
interconnectivity of slow onset
climate change impacts and
food security, safety, and
health?

Impact chain. Dr. Rosa Perez of the IPCC says sea level rise can lead to loss and damages in infrastructure and human life,
stemming from diminished food security and safety, which can, in turn, impact personal safety, which will lead to health
issues and a rise in illness and disease, and ultimately, the demise of human life and even cultures.

1

6

6. How do you regard loss and
damages? What is priceless
to you? What can be paid for
and rebuilt?

W hat

’ s

at

elders, priestesses and female shamans, used to be
readily available as survival tools for the indigenous
population. Its sad demise in recent time, especially
in life in diaspora and migration, however, had
furthered the communities’ vulnerability and in the
long term in fact may decrease their capacity for
resiliency and future adaptability to the impact of
worsening climatic conditions.”
The loss of a culture means the loss of certain
traditional wisdoms that can serve as sustainable
solutions today. Vetiver grass, for example—a species
of which is called “moras” by provincial folk in
the south and which is used to hold line the base
of bridges—can be used against erosion and soil
degradation. The preservation of mangroves around
coastal areas can help lessen the impact of storm
surges and floods, which can cause not only loss and
damage of structures, but also potentially irreparable
loss in culture and communities due to migration.
The destruction of material and replaceable goods
and services, as Dr. Perez cited, cost but money,
and—like extreme events, are at once visible and can
be addressed through expenditures and protocol.
But there are peoples and places, cultural heritage,
“cultural elements, ranging from the technological
to the spiritual or aesthetic, which constitute

S ta k e

the sources from which communities sustain
themselves.” These are “non-economic losses (that)
may encompass some of society’s most fundamental
values,” say James Morrissey and Anthony OliverSmith, “yet they pose challenges for measurement
and, as a result, may go unnoticed or unaddressed by
policy.” (13)
This is not just about sentimentality. Human
beings are naturally bound to the place they call
home, and from it, they draw strength and hope. “It
is on the basis of common identity that people come
together to organize in behalf of their communities,”
continues Morrissey and Oliver-Smith’s report.
“This is a core principle behind the concept of
resilience.”
A loss in human lives equals huge losses in
resources, laments Department of Agriculture
Undersecretary Segafredo Serrano: “When we
lose a few dozen, hundreds, then thousands of our
people, productive people like fishermen, farmers
throughout the population, we are losing resources.
Once we stop treating deaths like statistics, the
moment our attitude towards that changes, then I
think the way we would act with regard to climate
change is going to be different.”

References:
1. “Panel’s warning on climate risk: Worst is yet to come,” March 31, 2014, The New York Times
2. “Philippine Human Development Report 2012/2013,” Human Development Network
3. “Potentially catastrophic climate impacts on food production over long term,” FAO, March 31, 2011
4. Slow Onset Events Technical Paper, United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, November 26, 2012
5. Agricultural Adaptations to Climate Change: The Philippine Experience by Adelina D. Alvarez, Center for Quality and Competitiveness-Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Division (CQC-AgriPED), Development Academy of the Philippines, Workshop on Agricultural Adaptations to
Climate Change, Bangkok, Thailand, November 22, 2012
6.“Rapid climate change now threatens Asia’s rice bowl,” Dan Klotz and Jeff Haskins, The Nation, April 21, 2012, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Rapid-climate-change-now-threatens-Asias-rice-bowl-30180379.html
7.“DPWH Flood Risk Management and Resiliency Program,” by Assistant Secretary Ma. Catalina E. Cabral, PhD, June 3, 2014
8. “Modeling the Effect of Rising Sea Level on River Deltas and Long Profiles of Rivers,” Gary Parker, Yoshihisa Akamatsu, Tetsuji Muto,
William Dietrich, Hiroshima University, Japan, July 2004, 2000
9. http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Re-St/Sea-Level.html
10. “Climate Change: Challenge and Opportunities in the Philippines” by Esteban C. Godilano, Ph.D. and Eliseo R. Ponce, PhD., SeminarWorkshop on Mainstreaming Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture. October 22 to 24, 2013, Manila
11. Loss & Damage: The Theme of Slow Onset Impact, August 2012, Linda Siegele.
12. Story notes on Mucha Shim Quiling’s “Lahat Hangkut,” essay in Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change, 2014, iCSC
13. Perspectives on Non-Economic Loss and Damage: Understanding values at risk from climate change, September 2013

1 7

PART 3

What’s Being Done: Initiatives and Efforts
Indiscriminate use of the word “impact” has become more
frequent lately, particularly among organizations and offices
involved in climate change advocacies. To some experts, however,
simply labeling changes and disasters as “climate change impacts”
can be misleading and sometimes irresponsible.
According to Lourdes V. Tibig, “The changes you see now
are actually a combination of changes in the climate, which are
naturally induced, and anthropogenic, human-induced.” It’s
difficult to “tease out the factors,” she says, that will unequivocally
point towards human-induced climate change as the culprit.
“There are very limited local studies on climate change. There
are impacts we have been seeing, but not necessarily due to
climate change. Our vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate are
defined by exposure, sensitivity to increases in temperature and/
or changes in rainfall and adaptive capacity of communities.
There are potential impacts of climate change (as reported by
the IPCC AR5) which will be caused by the increasing rates of
temperature increases. They could happen in the near future (15,
20 years from now) or later after the mid-21st century. And these
will be local-specific,” Tibig continues.
There also tends to be a misconception that climate change
issues can be solved with a one-size-fits-all approach, such as,
tree-planting, without generating better insights about specific
circumstances impacts may be taking place in. “Potential
impacts are locally specific," Tibig says, "which is why you need
observation and monitoring. For example, changes in temperature
are not the same in all areas. But in some areas, the rise is faster.”

Department of
Agriculture’s AMIA
On January 25, 2013, DA Secretary
Proceso Alcala issued a memorandum
in support of the Climate Change Act
of 2009 (R.A. 9729) outlining “DA’s
four strategic objectives  to make
DA’s plans and programs climate
change compliant or climate proof.”
The memo also introduced the
“DA’s seven systems-wide programs
on climate change that includes
the APEC-initiated ‘Adaptation and
Mitigation Initiatives in Agriculture
(AMIA).’” (1)
The AMIA’s objective was to increase
understanding on strategies,
impact, problems,and issues on
mainstreaming climate change
across functions and agencies in
the DA. Key activities would include
development of systems; enhancing
DA management capacities; and LGU
management training on CC, among
others. (2)

“Climate appropriations have increased 2.5 times in real terms and on average 26 percent annually, outpacing the growth of the
national budget (around 6 percent). This increase shows government willingness to increase climate action, but the level of funding based on projected needs is still low. The total climate appropriations correspond to about 0.3 percent of GDP, falling below
the Stern review recommendations that countries should expend at least 2 percent of GDP to implement climate action.” – Climate
Change Action and Mitigation Roadmap, inter-agency presentation, 2013

1

8

W hat ’ s

B eing

Done :

I nitiati v es

an d

E ffo r ts

RISK TO PROJECTED
TEMPeRATURE
INCREASE

RISK TO PROJECTED
RAINFALL CHANGE

RISK TO EL NIÑO

Maps from the Manila Observatory and Department of Environment and Natural Resources show parts of the country that are at risk to projected temperature increase,
rainfall increase, and effects of El Niño.

1

9

W hat ’ s

B eing

Done :

I nitiati v es

Coping with SOI: Two stories
Farmers in Iguig
“I walked with Mang Sindatu’s son, who was
my age. Each of us seemed to be carrying a heavy
burden in our hearts, maybe because of the changes
around us. The leaves started to wither and fall. I
never again saw the same old tree under where my
father and I used to rest. The brook had turned into
a muddy slope from which only the carabaos benefit.
Everything has changed…” – “The Dried Land”
(“Migkamala A Inged”) by Mubarak M. Tahir,
Agam: Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate
Change
Half an hour away from Tuguegarao is Iguig, a
fourth-class municipality that takes the brunt of
the province’s extreme weather conditions, with
temperatures rising close to 42 degrees Celsius in
the summer and 20 degrees or below during colder
months.
Her mayor is Juditas Trinidad, who’s held the seat
for eight years, with a break from 2004 to 2009.
Soft-spoken and straightforward, she speaks with
genuine concern about her constituency: 30,000
people of whom 80 percent are farmers. One of their
biggest challenges now, she says, is helping them
cope and find supplemental income for the crops
they lose due to increasing temperatures.
According to Trinidad, there are 10,820 hectares
of arable land in Iguig. Thirty percent is devoted
to corn, primarily along the Cagayan River, with
some cornfields on higher land. Most are devoted
to rice. The other areas are devoted to flowering
vegetables—squash, patola, eggplant, a whopping 35
hectares for ampalaya. There is pride in Trinidad’s
voice when she says that they supply these vegetables
to Tugeegarao and Nueva Vizcaya, but resentment
when she adds that they can also grow cabbage and
sayote and not have to import from Vizcaya “if we
had better irrigation. Because of climate change,
the quality is not so good. It used to be better when

an d

E ffo r ts

the temperatures were okay. Now the quality and
quantity is compromised.”
Trinidad adds that though the farmers have been
introduced to the term “climate change,” they don’t
refer to it. And why should they, when they’ve been
living with it and have been at the mercy of it all
their lives, the rise and ebb of the seasons. Their
intimacy with the phenomenon itself negates the
need for labels.
What they need are solutions, and that’s what the
LGU is helping them find.
For an alternative source of livelihood, Trinidad
has turned to the Department of Agriculture (DA)
to provide goat demo farms to the farmers. The
‘Livestock Enterprise Program’ from the DA will
teach the farmers new and traditional ways of goatraising and farming. Goats are easy to take care of,
says Trinidad. “Just tie them to a post, let them graze
on grass and leaves. And they give birth every five
months so you can have two new batches in a year.”
Each demo farm will have five does and one buck.
Sheep is another alternative, since there is a demand
for its meat, says Trinidad. “These are better than
pigs, which consume a lot of feeds that the farmers
cannot afford and are given antibiotics—not good,”
she says.
Another option is the kabir chicken, a large native
breed that only costs P50 a pullet. It likewise does
not need feeds, and can grow up to three kilos.
“This is what we’re coming up with for the farmers.
When they fall sick, for example, the problem
falls onto the LGU. We have to help them earn
supplemental income.”
But the farmers of Iguig are tillers of the soil, first
and foremost. And it is water they need most. What
the National Irrigation Administration redirects
from the Cagayan River is not enough.
Windmills can help, she adds, which can water a
whole hectare of vegetables. And “research on what
rice variety will grow even when it’s hot and dry.”
“Government should be serious about irrigation,”

2 0

W hat ’ s

B eing

Done :

I nitiati v es

an d

E ffo r ts

says Trinidad. “(It appears) they don’t pay much
attention to the budget for irrigation. They should
remember we are an agricultural country, basically.

We have not yet graduated to processing. Eighty
percent of the people here are farmers, and the
lifeblood of farmers is water.”

Fishermen along the coast

national and local levels.”
The loss in livelihood among fisherfolk has been
most felt over the past 10 years, says Ame (save for
those from Sta. Ana, Cagayan, which is now an
industrial community that provides alternative jobs
for ex-fishermen).
While erosion has literally washed away their
boats and homes, the lengthened summers have
given them a new source of income: the red algae
known as gracilaria.
“Seaweeds are usually seasonal, they (grow only
in the) summer,” says Ame. “So when the summer
period extends, the availability of the seaweed
becomes all year round.” Before, they could only
harvest in February, when there were no more
storms. Now they can harvest as early as December.
Unique to the region, Cagayan is neck and neck
with Bicol as its no. 1 producer of gracilaria in
Luzon.
But like the soil tillers in Iguig, the fisherfolk
of Cagayan’s coastline remain bound to what they
know and love: fishing.
A major hindrance to reclaiming their livelihoods
is financial assistance. Some municipalities need
stronger dike systems, while all need more education
about preparing for disasters, and better options for
housing and where to shelter.
“We’ve asked them what they need,” Ame says.
“Their primary answer is: early warning system.
They need it to prepare before the floods come.
Some have TVs, but there are barangays and places
that have no communication whatsoever. They’re
not well-informed.”

The awareness of climate change, much more
SOI, and preparedness levels about its potential
impacts are at 56 percent throughout the coastal
municipalities in Cagayan Valley; 20 percent have
no knowledge at all. This, according to a report
prepared by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic
Resources (BFAR)-Region 2, Department of
Science and Technology-Region 2, and Cagayan
State University for Kuroshio Science. The report
focused on the region because of its unique
geographic location and climatic conditions; located
at the tip of the archipelago, it serves as a gateway
for typhoons, making the coastal communities
vulnerable yet resilient. (3)
“There’s not much knowledge, especially about
SOI,” Evelyn Ame, lead author of the paper, and
BFAR research director, says, even if the people
involved in the study encounter its impacts
periodically. Flooding causes the most suffering
among the communities. Environmental degradation
is also present due to mining and insufficient
landfills for household waste. The communities are
also aware of saltwater intrusion and erosion, but do
not attribute it to climate. “They are perceived as
natural occurring incidents,” says the report.
The report describes unequivocally the deficit in
understanding, much less confronting, the problem:
“The expertise and facilities as they exist now are
insufficient for providing reliable predictions of
climate change and its impact on different sectors at

References:
1. http://www.da.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1233:memorandum-urgent-implementation-of-the-da-climatechange-policy-thrusts-and-programs&catid=107:climate-change
2. DA Systems-Wide Programs (SWPS): Objectives Presentation, AMIA-DA Philippines
3. “Economic Analysis of Climate Change Adaptation Options in Selected Coastal Areas of Cagayan, Philippines,” Evelyn C. Ame, Rowena
Guzman, Jezreel Pataguan, Kuroshio Science, 2014

2 1

PART 4

What Needs to be Done
There must be a shift from the
current fixation largely addressing
effects of extreme events to
managing the potential loss and
risks of slow onset impacts, as
these pose equal, if not bigger
and potentially more irreparable,
damage. There is a glaring and
urgent need to not only create and
rely on “paper approaches” (1), but
also to identify and build processes
that will work from the grassroots
up, to meet the challenges of SOI.
It will not be easy. After all,
the timing and severity of SOI is
uncertain. But people’s lives must
be saved, culture and livelihoods
preserved, and progress—as much
as feasible—uninterrupted. To
achieve this scenario, the first step
is clear: do the research. Generate
far more research. Acknowledge
that carefully collated scientific data
is fundamental to more effective
governance in response to climate
change. Because knowledge must
ultimately take practical, pro-active
form.
This paper identifies eight
recommendations on how policymakers, community leaders, and
members from the private sector
can meet the challenge of SOI. It
must be reiterated that these are
not unrelated suggestions; like an
impact chain, each recommendation
will benefit from others when
executed well.

RESEARCH. MONITORING, DATABASE GENERATION,
DOCUMENTATION, NEW EQUIPMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY: Views
from the experts
O n climate change

Leoncio A. Amadore, PhD, former director of the Philippine
Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services
Administration (PAGASA) says: “The present state of knowledge
in the country on climate change is still far from being complete.
My view is that we have, if ever, barely scratched the surface of it.
Research on the social, economic, environmental dimensions and
effects of climate change on the natural and human systems of this
country is in order, to be followed by science-based adaptation
measures. Studies on the physical science basis or causes of climate
change should also be supported and enhanced in terms of
observational equipment, technical know-how, capacity building
and development.”
According to climatologist and meteorologist Lourdes V.
Tibig: “The first requirement of research is an adequate network
of weather-monitoring stations, including tidal gauges so we
can start. You cannot just measure rainfall, or just temperature.
And you need regular observations throughout the year.” Also,
she adds, “People’s opinions vary. There is no way to distinguish
if what locals are saying is correct because there are no weather
observations by which a community’s perceptions of impacts can
be referenced to. We cannot synthesize what isn’t there.”
One needs at least 30 years of data, according to Tibig, from
which to derive models and predict possible impacts of climate
change.
With regard to sea level rise and sea temperatures, for example,
the Philippines has only four tide stations registered under the
Global Ocean Sea Level System for worldwide tidal scientific
studies: Manila, Cebu, Legazpi (Albay), and Davao tide stations.
The Cebu one dates back to 1935, the others, 1947. (2)

2 2

W hat

N ee d s

to

“The most recent finding is that sea level rise has
accelerated. That’s the global assessment... if you
base it on AR4 (3), sea level rise is already on the
higher end of the projections,” says Tibig. “There are
places where the impacts will be faster, like in small
islands—but you don’t know which one,” she adds,
reiterating that scientific models that can predict
storm surges will also save coastal communities, she
says.
Rosa Perez, PhD, another member of the IPCC,
also says more value should be given to R&D.
“Some phenomena (like the decline in agriculture
and lack of farmers) may be explained by social
research, some by science. What matters is research.”
Not even the most sophisticated of equipment will
be able to explain to you the movements or behavior
of storms, she says. “The answers lie in R&D.”
“Have a good database—the physical, the social,
the economics. You need to use all this data to
search for an interconnectedness so that you can
make a forecast, and what impacts it might bring.
Others measure hazards, that’s physical. But what
about impact on communities, the ecosystem? You
need to know everything.”
All national agencies involved with climate change
initiatives, says Tibig, should share in this database.
“This will help avoid use of contentious data.”
Research in climate projections, for example, can
help barangays prioritize their needs and plans.
Research on clean energy sources can help mitigate
our dependence on coal plants, which is one of
the most insidious perpetrators of anthropogenic
climate and environmental hazards.
Just as important, Tibig suggests, is that after
the research is done, it goes to “a clearing house.”
There, highlights of the research will be extracted,
so that the next researchers will not have to repeat
what already has been done. “You build on what was
already there. Each research initiative should build
on that.”

be

Done

“There are very little study on impacts, especially
in Asia. We have so many problems, but one basic
problem is our lack of research,” she says.

O n I nf r ast r u ct u r e

Undersecretary Serrano says, “At DA, what we’d
like to develop initially is a research-negative list.
We must be able to initially identify things that we
should no longer do.”
One of those things is to stop building farm-tomarket roads that are not designed to withstand the
variations in storms or floods in certain locales. Not
only are they a waste of money, but the economic
costs fall below negative as they do not “generate net
value to the people.”
“With the right research and development and
infrastructure that can withstand extreme events,
you can also prepare an array of projected slow onset
impacts such as slow onset events,” says Serrano.
Engineers, for example, “can then incorporate your
projections from scenarios for slow onset events
with your basic specifications for infrastructure.
And that can be your formula for adjustments.”
Research is needed to develop efficient
infrastructure for a developing country.

O n foo d sec u r it y

“Weather stations will also help farmers plan
their crops—what to plant, and when,” says
Undersecretary Serrano. According to him, the
DA has about 150-plus stations. “We need more.
Thousands. We need to develop a technology for
the future,” he adds. In the case of crops, he points
out, “if we’re talking of loss in yield and loss in
farm lands, we need to determine what crops are
feasible to save. Because there are those that are no
longer feasible. With the feasible ones, with current
technology and with our resources, you can prepare
actually for (different environment scenarios).”
In fact, he says, the DA has already developed a
“submarine” variety of rice, one that can withstand

2 3

W hat

N ee d s

inundation.
Instead of sticking to low yielding crops, he says,
research can allow you “to have a variety that would
have a higher yield than your current variety that’s
not adaptable to that environment.”
Irrigation and precipitation—through a process
like evapotranspiration—can also be developed
for areas that lack water, like in soil-atmosphere
coupling experiments. “So mostly you get your
moisture from the atmosphere and the soil,”
explains Serrano. Another, cheaper variety of crop
would be one which “can extract its own nitrogen
requirements from the atmosphere.”
“Robust argument, good evidence and sound
technical analysis”—these are ingredients that can
convince. Research is the backbone of political buyin, which is crucial in the formulation of policies
geared towards the SOI agenda.

COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLANNING

A deeper understanding of Comprehensive
Land Use Planning, or CLUP, will help “prevent
desertification,” says Dr. Rosa Perez. She urges
the importance of reinvigorating agriculture and
preventing erroneous conversion of land. “You have
to re-invigorate agriculture to prevent degradation
of soil, that also adds to greenhouse gas emissions
like methane and carbon dioxide,” she says.
It would be wise also to include the barangay in
the CLUP analysis, should there be infrastructure
planned to be built on certain land.
It’s important for farmers to also know where not
to plant. “If an area is susceptible to extreme events,
then don’t plant there. Encourage them to farm
somewhere else where it’s not so vulnerable—give
them incentives,” says Serrano. To support this plan,

to

be

Done

the DA has proposed the usage of drone technology
to quickly assess damage and monitor susceptible
areas.

EDUCATION/AWARENESS RAISING

SOI is not one stand-alone problem; it presents
a host of problems that can spread and spiral into
potentially irreversible catastrophes.
Education or knowledge management should be
part of the government’s initiatives about SOI, says
Dr. Perez. “Awareness-raising, so that they know
this is not so simple—this can branch out into
many things.” Like for example soil degradation
from (wrong) CLUP, that can result into a dip in
agriculture, which will affect food security, and then
health and personal safety of people.
Our educational system, for one, should bring
back science into the early grades. “If your general
population has a good science education, making
them understand this and the basic ingredients of
natural phenomenon is going to be a cinch; it's not
going to be a subject of a lot of misinterpretation
and superstition,” says Serrano.
Universities should also consider including
climate topics in their agriculture courses. “The
main elements of climate change should come
naturally to an agriculturist or somebody working in
agriculture. But unfortunately it does not,” Serrano
says.
Amadore states: “Public education campaigns
through the inclusion of climate change topics in
school curricula (can help). The academe’s mandate/
role/forte as educators and researchers are ideal for
climate change and SOI innovative information and
research activities.”
Beyond the academic slant, Serrano says

2 4

W hat

N ee d s

to

ownership of data by the local communities are
essential. “They should be enabled in evaluating the
data from their weather stations (or whatever data is
generated or gathered by their community). Farmers
and communities need to be able to understand this,
so that after some period of time, there is relative
precision and intimacy and insights from the data,
that’s important.” The communities should be able
to marry insights with the forecasts fed to them
from media, for example. “What value does that
hold for a farmer in Bukidnon, when all he wants to
know is if he’ll plant tomatoes or lettuce? That kind
of weather information intimacy is important.”
Amadore sums up: “One way the government can
help raise awareness about climate change is through
traditional Information, Education, Communication
(IEC) conducted in using modern technology; and
a persistent public information campaign though
seminars, workshops, the social media.

ROLE OF Local Government Units (LGUs)

LGUs are at the core of activities that can support
communities cope with SOI.
First, they can help in research by documenting
and collecting data. “You can use this in the future
to make assessments (and note trends),” especially if
the data is collected over a long period of time says
Perez. This is also vital in decision-making.
“The LGU should be, first of all, the target for
the IEC on climate change and SOI, before they can
implement/echo them to their constituents/areas
and incorporate them in their barangay-, municipaland provincial-level development and contingency
plans,” says Amadore.
Being the center of activity, notes Perez, the LGUs
should be hands-on and work together. They should

be

Done

be involved especially with infrastructure, and the
analysis and planning if certain structures should be
built on certain land (as in CLUP).

COORDINATION

Greater effort must be given to true collaboration
and harmonization between agencies.
“Collaboration between ministries is also
important, integration of governance and
institutions across levels and sectors; locating
responsibility for climate risk management in a
central ministry may help facilitate adaptation…
The effectiveness of institutional arrangement
often depends on location within the national
government, degree of decentralization,
multisectoral participation, political support and
share of national budget granted to the institution.”
(4)
“It’s difficult,” says Tibig. “We can maximize so
much on the research we have, except that there is
no coordination between research institutions…
it’s a shame because some researches that should be
shared can (shed light to the bigger picture).”

INVESTING IN PEOPLE

“The limitless resource we have is our people,” says
Serrano. “We have to take good care of them, instead
of seeing them as a problem. People are our assets.”
Seeing people as assets means we have to value
them by investing in technology and knowledge for
them. “The more you delay in the framing of a plan
on how to adapt the slow onset events including loss
and damage, we’d better be prepared for losing more

2 5

W hat

N ee d s

to

thousands of people. It’s like a massive leakage of
our own national resources,” he says.
From a research point of view, Perez says the
government should start supporting scientists in
order to carry out further research. Maybe then,
these talented minds would not have to take on
work from other countries in order to earn a living,
and give up the rights to the work that could have
been the Philippines’.
Tibig, for one, says Filipino scientists should be
trained in using specific instruments for projections,
which also furthers the SOI agenda. “The people
attending these regional efforts should be able to
focus on this so they can do it,” she says.

be

Done

A long-term vision is also needed to gain
confidence in the people. An engaged audience
is an involved audience. Showing them that the
government works for them and listens to them,
and is willing to share information with them, “is
at the same time a confidence building measure
that arouses inquisitiveness and therefore the
information seeking behavior among people.”
Part of this confidence is also built by respecting
people’s indigenous traditions and natural habitat,
and encouraging them to keep it. This will help
keep cultures intact, as well as helping curb the
potential impacts of climate change. Islands that
have mangroves to protect their shorelines against
storm surges and floods, for example, have zero
casualties during storms. “They are living testaments
to indigenous wisdom,” says Serrano.

VALUES and VISION

Wouldn’t it be grand if our political masters
viewed their service as a “legacy thing,” as Serrano
puts it. “Turn(ing) over to the next administration
a system that is better enabled and more agile in
responding.”
That could happen with a longer lifespan on line
item budgeting, which is only prescribed one year.
The medium-term plan of six years is also too short
to create and implement changes that go hand in
hand with a “very deliberate vision (that draws on)
learning from the insights of the past and what you
see as trends that we face in the future,” says Serrano.
Six years, for example, is too short to finish map
overlays for the country’s 7,107 islands, which
present just as many local situations.

COMMUNICATION

A common language and attention to accurate
messaging is essential in formulating policies
on SOI—which, as this paper reveals, itself has
common but not the same definitions among
different groups.
What may be trivial to some is actually quite
important—even life-saving, if one recalls how
officials failed to define “storm surge” before
Yolanda hit.
“Imprecision and mislabeling can be fatal,”
remarks Serrano. “Because to us Filipinos, words
mean a lot.”

2 6

W hat

N ee d s

to

be

Done

The role of Adaptation Finance in managing SOI
“Like the timing and severity of SOI, the level
of funding that might be required to manage loss
and damage related to it is highly uncertain and
varies greatly from country to country and region.
However, the earlier the approaches are put into
place, to manage SOI hazards, the lower the costs
and higher the benefits.” (5)
Dr. Amadore pegs a figure for SOI research: “An
initial fund of P500 million (ball-park estimate, of
course) for climate change studies in the area of risk
assessment and climate change adaptation; nature,
characteristics, impacts of climate change-induced
extreme events, SOI, and corresponding adaptation
measures.”
From this P500M, hypothetically, one can build a
database—the physical, the social, the economics—
from which will be derived an estimate for the next
phase. “On the second iteration, you can already
make adjustments,” says Dr. Perez. “But now, we
have no idea how much is needed really.”
That’s not counting the weather stations needed
for more data gathering and forecasting, of which
the DA needs thousands. Depending on the
complexity of the station, the price can range from
below a hundred dollars to a few thousand.
How do we get that money?
Athena Ballesteros, project manager of
Institutions and Governance at World Resources
Institute, says: “One of the best entry points
is to engage with those who are designing and
programming adaptation and resilience building
activities for developing countries. These would
include multilaterals like the World Bank and Asian
Development Bank; bilaterals including German
development cooperation or the UK’s Department

for International Development and dedicated
climate change funds such as the People’s Survival
Fund for the Philippines, and Green Climate Fund/
Adaptation Fund and Global Environment Fund at
international levels.”
According to Ballesteros, honing in on the
following will steer the support on these funders’
agenda:
“Upstream policy level when setting norms and
guidelines for what constitute adaptation funding
priorities so they go beyond adaptation in the
areas of Disaster Risk and Reduction but factor
in scientific and knowledge management of SOI.
This should be included in the intended outcomes
of financing for climate change adaptation (e.g.,
putting action against SOI as a key result area in the
performance management framework or any results
management framework).”
But the onus of SOI in the Philippines
predominantly falls on our local lawmakers.
Ballesteros agrees that attention should also be paid
to research.
“Congress should carve out a good percentage of
the national budget for scientific research, especially
on agriculture to predict SOI in specific sectors that
will be affected; this should include investment in
technologies and software, e.g. for modeling and
spatial analysis as well as early warning systems,” she
says.
Other agencies would also do well in integrating
SOI in their plans. “Critical government ministries
such as DA, DENR*, DOE and DOTC should
ensure (that they) mainstream climate change and
factor in the effect of SOIs in their department’s
strategic plans and budget; same for DILG.”

References:
1. Loss & Damage: The Theme of Slow Onset Impact, August 2012, Linda Siegele
2. National Report of the Philippines, May 2006, Oceanography Division, Coast and Geodetic Survey Department, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, Nurelius G. Baloran
3. AR 4: Assessment Report 4, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
4, 5. Loss & Damage: The Theme of Slow Onset Impact, August 2012, Linda Siegele
*Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of
Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)

2 7

by Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities
written by Regina Abuyuan for icsc
Edited by Renato Redentor Constantino and Kairos de la Cruz
Infographics by Wilson Alinea
Lay out by Angelo A. Manalo
Photography by Veejay Villafranca for iCSC

1

Introducing
the new logo:
basic English versions
There are four versions of the basic logo:
1 red with white type (main version)
2 black with white type
(for one-colour/low-cost jobs, or
occasionally for four-colour jobs where
appropriate. For example, for more
reflective or youth applications – see black
majority churches leaflet, 05 03)
3 white with red type

Unit 32 Cubao Expo, No. 68 Brgy. Socorro,
Gen. Romulo Ave., Cubao, Quezon City
Minimum logo size
(02)-709-12-58
Use the logo as big as possible in the
context of your design. The minimum size
www.ejeepney.org
you can use it is 20mm across.
4 white with black type
(3 and 4 only for use on
dark backgrounds)

2

3

4

File names: christian aid (CA) no strap
1 red logo
CA_red_CMYK.eps (C0 M100 Y100 K0)
CA_red_PMS.eps (Pantone 485)
CA_red_RGB.eps (R255 G0 B0, hexadecimal FF0000)
2 black logo
CA_bla.eps (C0 M0 Y0 K100)
3 white logo (red CA)
CA_whi_CMYK.eps (C0 M100 Y100 K0)
CA_whi_PMS.eps (Pantone 485)
CA_whi_RGB.eps (R255 G0 B0, hexadecimal FF0000)
4 white logo (black CA)
CA_whi.eps (C0 M0 Y0 K100)
Please contact the design and production unit for copies of the logo files and any
advice on using them (see contact details 26 01).

Minimum logo size 20mm wide

christian aid identity guidelines 1.0

04 01

Opening quote from The Guardian-UK, March 27, 2014
The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of Christian Aid, which provided the support
that made this report possible.

Empower Provinces!
The specific mix of climate change
impacts—episodic and slow onset—will
vary from place to place, and from year
to year; impacts will be nonlinear over
time. High inter-annual variability and
increasing unpredictability will be a
crosscutting pattern characterizing climate
change in the Philippines.
This is a compelling argument
against centralized, cookie-cutter
type of approaches from the national
government—particularly in agriculture,
the most climate-sensitive sector. Rather,
the first best and, maybe, only response
to nonlinearity and unpredictability is
to strengthen adaptive capacities of

communities—strengthening human
capabilities and building on local coping
mechanisms. Certain types of information,
technology, and research may be best
produced or financed at the national level,
but the delivery and application of these
public goods require local knowledge,
flexibility, and customization. Certainly,
planning capacity will be critical, if not
essential, to the adaptive potential of
localities. In order to avoid fragmented
local responses to climate change and
clumsy, ineffective, one-size-fits-all
national programs, interventions at the
provincial level will be central to building
climate change resilience at the local level.

“Natural Hazard and Climate Change” by Red Constantino and Toby Monsod, from
2012/2013 Human Development Report by the Philippine Human Development Network.
Download the full report at http://ejeepney.org/pdf/2012-2013-PHDR.pdf

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful