DAVAO City emerged as the least vulnerable to the impact of climate change among eight cities in the Philippines and it could continue its strong economic growth with sustainable environmental measures put in place, according to a 2012 study released by the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature.
Weather data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) over a 20-year period, from 1990 to 2010, showed that while the city has an even year-round rainfall and lies in a typhoon-free zone, there has been a "moderately increasing trend in annual rainfall," said Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive officer and vice chair of WWF.
Tan shared the results of the WWF study entitled “Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts” during a recent forum organized by the National Competitiveness Council.
The study analyzed weather data recorded for two decades for eight cities that, aside from Davao City, also included Baguio City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro City, Dagupan City, Laoag City, and Zamboanga City.
The information was used to predict how climate change could affect trade and industry in these areas over 50 years, and how local authorities and private stakeholders can counter its adverse consequences as early as now.
The study indicates that Davao City will have to deal with climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, increased sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, and variability in the amount of rainfall.
"Unless and until this rainfall trend reverses itself, it is likely that Davao's growing economy will have to manage increased rainfall, river flow, and flooding," he said.
The report looked at certain industries in the city and their vulnerability to environmental disturbances. For instance, rising sea levels may create problems for the city's ports, a nerve center for Davao City's economy that serves a variety of ships handling both cargo and passengers. In agriculture, there is the danger of rat infestation coming with incidents of heavy rains.
Davao City has been enjoying economic growth as a result of generally robust agricultural, shipping, trade, and tourism sectors.
Agriculture is Davao's largest economic sector with banana, pineapple, durian, mango, and papaya as the top fruit crops in 2010. Durian showed the most significant increase in terms of fruit crop production from 1990 to 2010. Banana production is the sectoral leader in tonnage and has doubled over 20 years. Corn production delivered a robust pattern of growth, more than doubling from 1990 to 2010.
In addition, foreign trade trends in Davao City have been overwhelmingly positive. Imports increased 4.27 times from 1990 to 2010, while exports rose 12.96 times over the same period.
Shipping and sea-based transport remains a significant growth driver. The volume of cargo handled at the city's ports increased by 61 percent increase over from 1995 to 2009.
Tourism is a vibrant sector as well, with significant growth recorded over the last 10 years. In 2010, the total estimated tourist receipts of the city hit P9.55 billion.
To protect all these gains, the study recommends sustainable, integrated area development for Davao City. "Its opportunity is to do things the right way," it says. This means the effective and sustained management of essential utilities like water and power, basic services, and food security "driven by innovative agricultural formulas."
It also suggests effective and sustained management of "climate-smart" zoning, mass transit, land use and infrastructure, and efficient land and sea access to developed centers in Mindanao and nationwide.
"Davao has found its place in the sun. [It] should take a close look at the city's shipping fleet and port facilities, and take the necessary steps to ensure that they are upgraded to deal with the impacts of climate change."
Beyond this, there is a need to ensure the continuity of these sustainability steps by the local government, the private sector, and the population.
This, according to the study, is the best move "if this city is to sustain and re-engineer its agricultural strengths, and avoid the disorganized congestion that characterizes many other cities, emerging as a new center for livability and competitiveness in a climate-defined world." (Philexport)