Members of the National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) present their findings and policy recommendations on rising sea levels at the 1st Policy Forum. Their expertise and dedication shed light on the urgent need for action to protect coastal communities in the Philippines
MANILA, 7 July 2023 — The Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE), together with the University of the Philippines, tackled the issue of rising sea level and its potential impact on the Philippines in the 1st NPTE Policy Forum.
CCC Vice Chairperson and Executive Director Robert E.A. Borje emphasized the stakes involved, stating, “More than 60% of our population resides in coastal areas. Rising sea level poses grave dangers to our coastal communities, ecosystem, and economies. Again, it is our lives, livelihood and common future that are at stake.”
“This Forum serves as one of our many platforms to engage with all stakeholders in determining policies and delivering solutions towards better resilience. With our collective efforts— government, scientists and experts, academe, and all partners, we ensure that what rises before our eyes are not sea levels, but climate-smart, resilient, and thriving communities,” he added.
Sea level rise, or the gradual increase in the average level of the Earth's oceans, is one of the 10 climate-induced risks in the Philippines recognized by the NPTE.
With the theme "Rising Sea Level: Kapag Tumaas Ang Dagat, Malulunod Ba Tayo?," the forum included presentations from experts, Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado, Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, Co-Chair Dr. Eduardo Mangaoang, and Engr. Meriam Santillan, with special focus on the trends and impacts of sea level rise in various regions of the Philippines.
“The impacts of sea level rise extend beyond infrastructure and ecosystems—they directly affect public health,” stated Dr. Mercado in her presentation. She presented key policy recommendations to address the challenges posed by sea level rise, such as protecting vulnerable communities and ecosystems through laws, accommodating their needs through resilient infrastructure, and considering strategic retreat to ensure long-term safety and sustainability.
Underscoring their vulnerability, Dr. Alibuyog expanded the discussion to include the effects of sea level rise on urban poor communities, stating that they “...are not only exposed to hazards, but they often have limited resources and capacity to take measures to protect themselves.”
“We need long-term thinking. Our challenge in the Philippines has always been our ability to follow through,” Dr. Mercado stated when asked on her thoughts on inter-agency solutions to sea level rise. Urging individuals and agencies with capacity and opportunity to take action on the ground in vulnerable communities, Dr. Mangaoang said, “Let’s get out, do our share and help these vulnerable communities in our respective areas.”
Engr. Santillan emphasized the importance of acknowledging the reality of rising sea level and the significance of education and capability building to facilitate adaptation and informed decision-making guided by government data.
“Let us use science to make informed decisions especially with regards to climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Engr. Santillan stated as part of her closing statement.
The NPTE was created under the Climate Change Act, tasked to provide technical advice to the Commission in areas of climate science, technologies, and best practices for risk assessment and enhancement of adaptive capacity of vulnerable human settlements to potential impacts of climate change.
To further raise awareness on climate issues, the NPTE five-part policy forum is being conducted.
Starting with sea level rise, experts will also discuss Health and Climate Change, Flooding, Integrated Coastal Management and Blue Economy, and Water and Human Security, to further engage stakeholders in the climate policy.
The first forum was attended by 360 virtual participants from State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), National Government Agencies (NGAs), and Local Government Units (LGUs), and thousands of viewers through its livestream on Facebook and YouTube.
For more information on the NPTE and its activities, visit the CCC’s website at climate.gov.ph or communicate with the NPTE Secretariat through [email protected]