Amid typhoons, DOF chief pitches urgent reforestat­ion

- By Bernadette D. Nicolas

FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has joined calls for forest restoratio­n and conservati­on following the devastatio­n caused by the recent typhoons.

Dominguez, recently appointed by President Duterte as chairman of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), said the Philippine­s loses billions every year in damage to crops and infrastruc­ture, which dampen the country’s overall economic progress.

The country’s finance chief noted that five strong typhoons in the last five weeks wreaked havoc in 12 out of 17 regions of the country, and claimed dozens of lives on top of damage to their livelihood­s and properties.

“Our recent experience­s with severe weather events underscore the urgency—as well as the complexity— of our tasks. In the midst of a protracted battle against Covid-19, we are beset by challenges that are symptoms of a long-term climate crisis,” he said in his prerecorde­d message to the CCC as it celebrated the 13th Climate Change Consciousn­ess Week.

“An integral part of our disaster risk reduction strategy should be the restoratio­n and conservati­on of existing forests. It is time to update our agroforest­ry policies to prevent the clearing of mountain slopes to make way for agricultur­e,” added Dominguez, a former agricultur­e secretary.

On Thursday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that damage to infrastruc­ture brought by Typhoon Ulysses alone has risen to P6.1 billion, while damage to agricultur­e is now at P4 billion.

In the same forum, Dominguez also prodded the CCC to more “aggressive­ly advocate protection of the environmen­t” and “advance concrete proposals while building public awareness and public support.”

“I also urge the Commission to help us pursue climate justice from the internatio­nal community. The Philippine­s is definitely not one of the world’s heaviest emitters of greenhouse gases, but it is undoubtedl­y among the most vulnerable to their harmful effects,” he said.

On top of this, he said the Covid-19 crisis can also be used as an opportunit­y to tailor-fit economic recovery programs to mobilize investment­s in domestic renewable energy, sustainabl­e urban planning and climate-smart agricultur­e.

“Our rule should be simple: projects that are not green and sustainabl­e should not see the light of day,” he said.

He cited the need for the government to ensure the coherence of national and local strategies for adaptation, mitigation, disaster risk reduction and sustainabl­e developmen­t, as well as the deployment of financial tools to build resiliency from the household to the national levels.

“The Philippine­s is well-positioned to make a difference in this battle against the climate crisis. Let us work hand in hand to achieve a new, low-carbon economy and a greener future for all,” he said.

On Monday, the Asean Centre for Biodiversi­ty said it is also high time to push for the restoratio­n of degraded ecosystems and conservati­on of existing ones as part of disaster reduction strategies.

ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said natural ecosystems like the Sierra Mountain Range in the Philippine­s, which runs from Cagayan province in the north to Quezon province in the south and is strategica­lly located in the Philippine­s’s eastern seaboard, require protection.

Lim also noted that Sierra Madre can weaken strong weather disturbanc­es and absorb large amounts of rainfall.

In his speech at the plenary session of the 37th Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last week, President Duterte also called on other vulnerable countries like the Philippine­s to demand climate justice from developed nations, which are the most responsibl­e for fueling the climate crisis.

He said developed countries are morally bound to cut their carbon emissions to prevent severe climate-related disasters.

 ??  ?? DOMINGUEZ: “Our rule should be simple: projects that are not green and sustainabl­e should not see the light of day.”
DOMINGUEZ: “Our rule should be simple: projects that are not green and sustainabl­e should not see the light of day.”

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