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Badass Change-makers

by Emily Pritchard

Hello! My name is Emily, one of a number of interns who get the privilege and pleasure of working with iCSC this year. I’m an Australian undergrad student studying Environmental Science and Social Science, essentially it’s just a broad look at sustainability. I like dogs, blogs, and bicycles. Throw in some honest conversation and I’ll you a beer. You can find out more about me on the Team Members page.

Arriving into the National Capitol Region again after nearly 2 months in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and 4 months before that in Los Banos, Laguna was a shock to my system. Not just because I come from a quiet town in north-east Melbourne. I think it was a combination of the noise and density of the city and the constant adapting I do (happily) as a foreigner – whatever it was, it took the wind out of me for a few days. However, a couple of weeks have passed now and I’ve found my feet. I’m falling in love with Quezon City already and, if it continues to be as kind and welcoming as it has so far, then it won’t take long. What’s more, having started my internship at iCSC last week, I am more certain with each day that 2 months won’t be enough for me here. My return to Australia is in sight and I’m doing my best not to look directly at it.

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I’m interested in just, swift climate action. I’m as frustrated as the next person about how laborious and impossible the process can seem at times. However, I also recognise that grumbling about it will only give you a short-lived and hollow sense of satisfaction. Whether it’s easy or not we have just got to get out there and do it. This is particularly pertinent in the Philippines – being ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change related risks – there is little room left for unconstructive talk, only thoughtful action. There are already tangible climate change impacts being seen and felt by Pinoys, both rapid onset and slow onset impacts.  I think this vulnerability will breed innovation and ingenuity, and indeed is doing so already. Because in the face of such a huge challenge there is little else you can do, but put up a fight.

For this reason I think less vulnerable nations actually have a huge stake in the climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) developments happening in more vulnerable countries. Countries such as the Philippines will be miles ahead in terms of knowledge and experience in CCA and DRR when climate change finally hits less vulnerable nations as hard as the Philippines has already experienced and will continue to experience.

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My time with iCSC will be centred on facilitating and documenting the process of the preparation of local government unit (LGU) proposals to access climate finance, such as the People’s Survival Fund (PSF), Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) and the Municipal Development Fund (MDF). With the PSF Board set to call for proposals to access the fund in the coming month, the timing is perfect to help drive rapid utilisation of the PSF. These proposals will act both as an opportunity to demonstrate how the fund can be utilised, and as a test of the access process in order to assist future LGUs in their proposals. The long journey of the PSF is about to start a new chapter and these proposals will ensure it hits the ground running.

The proposals will be developed with a handful of LGUs who have expressed interest in accessing local climate funds to develop renewable energy initiatives.  Much like how iCSC pioneered the eJeepney, these LGUs will be the first movers in accessing climate change finance for renewable energy projects in this particular way. I think it is a testament to the integrity of this organisation that they seek to support others to make similarly ambitious and innovative moves towards a resilient, renewable energy future.

Facilitating these proposals serves both as a method to pipeline access to the People’s Survival Fund for the individual LGUs and also to more generally act as a case study. To effectively capture the lessons from these case studies we will document the process of drafting such proposals and developing a narrative-style paper that may be utilised by other LGUs wishing to take similar steps.

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Our hope is that by helping a handful of LGUs to lead by example, sharing their story, and promoting utilisation of climate change finance for renewable energy projects that this will convince more LGUs to follow suit. This initiative has the potential to snow ball and set up LGUs as a major driver of renewable energy. What I love about this project is that it is exactly the kind of ground-breaking work iCSC have demonstrated in the past which prompted me to seek an internship here. I’m looking forward to working closely with Kairos and Danica, a formidable policy team with great sense of humour, and with iCSC as a whole. Even if it means learning to love bitter gourd.

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