The recently released Working Group 1 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report presented the strongest evidence yet that humans have “unequivocal” influence on the warming of the planet and that the impacts can get worse. How can a developing country such as the Philippines cope?
Dr. Rodel Lasco, executive director of the OML Center, tackled how healthy and well-managed ecosystems can provide multiple benefits during the “Climate Change Resilience: Role of Nature-based Solutions” webinar last October 31, 2021. The webinar was organized by the Mindanao Center for Resiliency, in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Studies under the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension in Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).
Dr. Lasco referred to data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) which observed a temperature increase of 0.68° centigrade (C) from 1950 to 2015, explaining that this is consistent with the global dataset showing that the planet has indeed warmed since the 1950s. Dr. Lasco also skimmed through data on projected changes in seasonal total rainfall, number and intensity of tropical cyclones, and changes in sea level, showing the vulnerability of many Filipinos to these different climate impacts.
Despite the murky future with unabated warming, Dr. Lasco explained that there are many responses to climate change, which include nature-based solutions. Dr. Lasco shared that the ecosystem services provided by the country’s rich biodiversity are valued at around PHP 2.3 trillion. These ecosystem services include timber and fuelwood production, water provision, carbon offsetting, flood prevention, and fishery production, among many others.
Citing evidence of the role of the natural ecosystems in mitigating climate change, Dr. Lasco shared that Philippine forests are significant carbon sinks, capable of storing up to 100,000 gigagrams of carbon. Apart from helping mitigate climate change, Dr. Lasco discussed adaptation benefits from trees and forests, such as enhancing the coping capacity of smallholder farmers to climate risks by providing crop and income diversification, soil and water conservation, and efficient nutrient cycling.
Dr. Lasco also tackled the importance of coastal and marine ecosystems. Citing a study by the World Bank in 2017, Dr. Lasco shared that losing the remaining mangroves would result in 24% more people (or around 613,000) being flooded annually, with damage to property increasing by 28% or around US$1 billion annually.
Dr. Lasco shared a study by the OML Center in Leyte and Eastern Samar in 2015 which looked into local perceptions on the role mangroves played in reducing the impacts brought by Typhoon Haiyan in five affected municipalities and cities. The study found how the perception of the coastal protection function of mangroves differed according to the state of mangroves, in terms of area, estimated width, and diversity of species. (Read the abstract or download the journal article “Perceptions of Typhoon Haiyan affected communities about the resilience and storm protection function of mangrove ecosystems in Leyte and Eastern Samar, Philippines”)
Closing his talk, Dr. Lasco reminded participants of the human-nature interconnection and how environmental degradation is not just linked to climate change, but with the emergence of diseases. Addressing environmental issues, Dr. Lasco added, would help address multiple challenges the global community is facing. Dr. Lasco also noted some of the existing efforts to restore and manage ecosystems that are being conducted by the Philippine government and the private sector.
The webinar was moderated by Dr. Marilou Nanaman and was streamed via the Facebook page of the Mindanao Center for Resiliency and the OML Center.
Watch the recording of the webinar via our Facebook page.
You may also want to check out the Philippine Climate Change Assessment (PhilCCA) Sectoral Snapshot on Forests which highlights how the continuously warming temperature aggravates their already degraded condition. The Forest Sectoral Snapshot is available for download via the OML Center website.