WWF: Start climate-smart initiatives now

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


THE local government must start building climate-smart infrastructure and brace for worse rains due to worsening and changing weather patterns.

This was the warning made by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in a presentation Friday before various sectors in the city highlighting the result of their three-year study on Climate Adaptation Study on 12 cities in the country with Baguio emerging as the most vulnerable city to climate change.

WWF project assistant Joaquin Del Rosario said the local government must brace for a 6,000 millimeters average rainfall yearly after an increasing trend for rainfall was noted in the country.

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Extreme temperatures are likely when there are no rains during summer but with non-stop rains during the rainy season.

Another setback for the city is it sits in a highly active tectonic zone where an earthquake could leave it inaccessible for days especially without regular air services.

As an economic lifeline, Baguio’s roads remain unpredictable especially during the rainy season when recurring rock and landslides are common.

Del Rosario suggested for major highways leading to Baguio to be considered for privatization if government is unable to keep these roads open for transportation needs especially during stormy weather.

Privatizing Kennon Road, he said, is not going to be a burden since motorists are already paying at the toll gate. But motorists will have to be assured the road remains open during typhoons and major calamities.

The WWF classified the city as the most vulnerable also because of its high concentration of people.

The study added the city also has a problem on water with two of six watersheds already compromised.

Del Rosario said the city government must tap into gathering rainwater and not wait for a shortage.

WWF project Manager Moncini Hinay stressed Baguio must come up with a climate change adaptation plan adding there is no downtime for preparedness since major disasters could wipe out or displace the city.

"Not until disaster strikes that we do the appropriate action. Our response is most often reactive than proactive. It is time to change that," Hinay said.

Hinay also stressed the city must prepare for the continued migration of people, especially from the lowlands, citing 60 percent of the country’s population now reside in urban centers.

He added for a long-term solution, the city must not only look towards the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay project but beyond including a Cordillera-wide or North Luzon perspective to become resilient to climate change.

This as he stressed an urban-rural lifeline for food sustainability and accessibility must be maintained since produce comes from Benguet and other lowland provinces.

Without sounding as an alarmist, he said the city government must not deny findings of the study and instead embrace these for a more realistic approach in solving the city’s problems further aggravated by climate change.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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