Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has expressed commitment to advancing the country’s efforts in achieving a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy through sustainable management of natural resources.

“The Duterte administration has already set us on the road to resilience. We will continue to advance the climate agenda and support the implementation of our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in order to make our communities and our natural resources resilient to the changing climate,” Sampulna said.

Identified as among the commitment in the country’s NDC to the Paris Agreement, the DENR chief emphasized that the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay and the expansion of wastewater treatment facilities will help the country meet its commitment to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75 percent.

Contributing to the implementation of the NDC by 2030, the DENR has also selected 18 cities across the country to take part in training-workshops on GHG emissions inventory and climate action planning to prepare for the development of their “city promises,” which include plans to address solid wastes, wastewater, and urban greening concerns, among others.

“Putting the environment at the heart of climate action will protect and build the resilience of the most vulnerable communities while ensuring a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sampulna noted.

He underscored the efforts of the Task Force Build Back Better, which was established under Executive Order 120, to improve climate resilience in typhoon-affected areas by implementing integrated watershed management and flood mitigation measures, and the conduct of community engagements, rapid biodiversity assessment in the proposed relocation sites, and green assessments toward rehabilitation and recovery in the areas.

He also noted that the DENR has already completed the green assessment of Palawan through the Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Sampulna has directed the DENR-MIMAROPA to identify and implement restoration measures in Palawan.

Likewise, the assessment on Siargao Island will begin by the second week of June.

The green assessment will also serve as an on-the-job training and learning experience for participants from the other DENR regional offices and local government units that were severely affected by typhoon Odette in December 2021.

The results of the assessment will provide the basis for the formulation of management recommendations on, and monitoring plans for reconstruction, restoration, rehabilitation, and resilience planning.

Sampulna also highlighted the memorandum of agreement between the DENR and Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. for the P10-million assistance to help restore and rehabilitate mangrove areas, as well as implement solid waste management activities on Siargao Island.

The DENR also continues to collaborate with development partners to ensure that the climate-vulnerable provinces in the country are provided with assistance in developing their resilience roadmap and Investment Portfolio for Risk Resilience to help them in adapting to the adverse effects of climate change.

Under the Program on Accelerating Climate Investments in the Philippines, the DENR, with assistance from the World Bank and UN-Habitat, is developing the Provincial Climate Risk Diagnostics Tool for Southern Leyte and Bukidnon to aid in the decision-making towards resilience-building.

The preparation of resilience roadmaps and the Investment Portfolio for Risk Resilience, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, is also currently underway for the country’s 12 climate-vulnerable provinces and four major urban centers, namely Siquijor, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Catanduanes, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo, Metro Manila and Metro Davao.

Moreover, the DENR, Society of Filipino Foresters, Inc., Climate Change Commission, and the Professional Regulation Commission have agreed to implement the Carbon Neutral Program Convergence to facilitate scientific forestation initiatives in order to contribute to carbon sequestration and promote nature-based solutions to address the climate crisis, as well as lead in the advancement of carbon neutrality among Filipinos.

The DENR also advocates for a convergence program on water security and resilience to address the vulnerabilities and growing threats to the environment and natural resources sector, as well as to assist communities in recovering from pandemic and climate change effects. ###