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On the heels of super typhoon Yolanda’s fury and ahead of the National Climate Change Consciousness Week,  the Demonstration of Ecotown Framework by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) emphasizes that economic growth and climate change can be mutually enforcing if we could fully take advantage of the concomitant shared opportunities.
 
Given the Philippines’ extreme vulnerability to climate change, CCC stressed the need to view adaptation as a necessity rather than an option. Even the country’s recent economic gains will be futile in the wake of the changing climate and its adverse impacts, said Helena Gaddi, who talked about the payback of “acting wisely from the beginning” as opposed to “develop first and clean up later” mindset.
 
It was further noted that investing or financing climate change action is not an extra development burden since adaptation measures could translate to savings from avoided costs once the impacts of climate change manifest.
 
Against this backdrop, details on the demonstration of ecotowns in ten municipalities were revealed. Five project sites are being supported by GGGI specifically the municipalities of Del Carmen, Pilar, San Benito, and San Isidro in the province of Surigao del Norte and the municipality of San Vicente in Palawan.
 
Assistant Secretary Joy Goco clarified that the Philippines’ version of ecotown focuses on adaptation instead of mitigation (such as zero carbon footprints) as in the case of other countries: “Ecotown pays more attention to adaptation and the emphasis is on anticipatory planning to prepare for the inevitable effects of climate change.”
 
Being the first of its kind at the municipal level, the initiative seeks to integrate and mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the local development plans such as the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to enable communities to become “ecologically stable” and “economically resilient.”
 
To share the progress achieved on the ground, Jesse Velente of the Municipal Planning Development Office of San Vicente Palawan presented some of the most important findings of the project. He tackled the most crucial sectors namely agriculture, forestry, health, and coastal and marine, and how these sectors are being affected by climate change in their municipality.
 
Encapsulating where these efforts fall in the grand vision toward green growth, Dr. Yong Sung Kim of GGGI emphasized that while climate change presents daunting challenges, it can serve as a strong catalyst to positive green growth transition. Furthermore, San Vicente can serve as a role model for other LGUs in demonstrating green growth and initiate the shift of momentum from the LGU to the provincial, national and sectoral level, thereby embedding green growth as a core strategy in development planning at all levels.
 
“It should be understood that green growth is about economic growth and the environment being recognized as mutually reinforcing, and not merely compatible. We believe that economic growth comes at a cost, but the focus is how to reduce this cost and see opportunities in taking different path, where economic development is sustainable under controlled environmental degradation and use of natural resources.”
 
Going forward, as the objectives of the ecotown are pursued at a larger scale through an enhanced framework called Climate Resilient Green Growth (CRGG) still under CCC-GGGI partnership, the approach will be redirected in a way that affords considerable emphasis on the economic performance of the provinces to be covered, especially the linked opportunities such as job creation, new business markets, improved infrastructure, technological innovation, and the like.


Press release from the Climate Change Commission and the Global Green Growth Institute

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GMA News Online
28 November 2013