Newly-formed network in the Philippines aims to promote community-based initiatives to tackle climate change

A newly formed network to tackle the impacts of climate change aims to contribute to efforts to reduce climate-related vulnerabilities and provide opportunities for exchange of experiences among similarly-tasked organizations

Getting lessons and inspirations from the community-based initiatives undertaken by progressive non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations in the recovery efforts in Haiyan-hit areas, four national organizations engaged in people-oriented development programs, including TWHA partner, Advocates for Community Health, have come together to form a network that aims to promote the same initiatives in addressing the challenges of climate change.

The Climate Change Network for Community-based Initiatives (CCNCI) aims to contribute to efforts to reduce climate-related vulnerabilities and provide opportunities for exchange of experiences, skills and expertise among similarly-tasked organizations in addressing climate change issues. It will help local actors in seeking resources for community-based adaptation actions.

TWHA Philippine partners (Gabriela, Council for Health and Development, Ibon and Advocates for Community Health) have been actively involved in campaigns for environmental and social justice. They are in the forefront of mobilizing the people against plunder of the nation's resources particularly the large-scale mining of big local and transnational companies. Long years of plunder have resulted in widespread deforestation, dislocation of farmers and indigenous peoples, coastal degradation and water crisis in the country.

They are part of a large mass movement in the Philippines protesting against the government's implementation of neoliberal policies that intensify the plunder of land and resources such as the Mining Act of 1995, public-private partnership which warrants the privatization of public utilities and services and trade liberalization, among others.

The formation of the CCNCI is the result of TWHA partners' and other progressive organization's urgent call to consolidate the people's movement for environmental and social justice and the struggle against the plunder of the nation's resources by large-scale mining and land grabbing by transnational corporations for biofuel and export crops plantations. The partners designated Advocates to be part of the preparatory committee for the formation of CCNCI and eventually as member of the board of the said network.

The other members of the network are the Center for Environmental Concerns, Citizens' Disaster Response Center and Philippine Network for Food Security Programs. As a network of organizations with long track records in development works in various sectors such as health, disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation, food security, the environment and agriculture, CCNCI will contribute to efforts to mainstream climate change education and responses and to support comprehensive, scientific, people-based strategies that address the particular impact of climate change on the country.

Besides doing its share in reducing risks of disasters and in mitigating the effects of climate change at the grassroots level, the network is also taking to task the government for its continued neglect of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and its apparent lack of urgency in preparing for the impacts of climate change.

"It seems that the Aquino administration is not keen on the complete rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery of the Yolanda-hit provinces. While the total damage and loss has amounted to P571 billion, the Aquino administration’s Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan is pegged at only P171 billion, or 30 percent, of the actual needs.

If the country’s leaders have realized the seriousness of the issue at hand, why is the budget for climate change research, for example, equivalent to only 0.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)? The recommended allocation for climate change research is 2 percent of the country’s GDP. Even worse, there is yet no comprehensive study on the impacts of climate change on the Philippines," it said in a statement.

It urges leaders to do more in investing in disaster preparedness, conducting science-based risk reduction and climate change adaptation and strengthening the barangay(village) risk reduction and management councils.#