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Davao communities seek science-based adaptation plans

By: Danica Marie Supnet

ICSC, the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) and Aksyon Klima Pilipinas recently co-facilitated a series writeshops regarding the People’s Survival Fund (PSF). The two writeshops – held in Mati, Davao Oriental and Tagum, Davao del Norte – involved eighty representatives from local governments, academe, and civil society groups based in the two provinces above as well as in Compostela Valley.

The PSF is a national climate fund approved by law in 2012 to support the adaptation plans of local governments and communities.

The main challenge in both writeshops was to make the shift from the business-as-usual development approach to a science-based planning process for adaptation. Our goal was to harness excitement in accessing the P1-billion fund to engrain the need for long-term planning, as it will inevitably include climate change adaptation programs and projects that can be funded by the PSF and other means.

We tackled issues such as the perceived difficulty of accessing the Fund and corrected misinformation about the processes and requirements for access.

The writeshops did not only help address these challenges; they were also a good test of what we in ICSC believe in:

The PSF works in perfect balance between access and accountability. As designed by law, the actual money from the PSF goes directly to the proponents of the approved proposals. Throughout the writeshops, we saw the need to further elaborate this concept of Enhanced Direct Access to settle the common concern of “politicized” fund disbursement. This type of access mechanism justifies the various requirements for proposals, as well as the the processes to consider them.

Provincial-level planning is a good start.  Provinces can be the best entry point in planning for climate change adaptation. The provinces involved in the writeshops demonstrated how they can lead discussions on the governance of shared resources, such as a watershed or a mountain range that cuts across several municipalities and/or cities.  For instance, participants from Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley strategized a water resource management system that covers several municipalities from the uplands down to the coastal area.

Partnering with academic institutions improves the process a lot. One of the best results of the writeshops is the identification of USeP and the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST) as the main support institutions of local government officials and civil society groups through climate impacts research and capacity-building. These academic institutions seek to raise the discourse of climate change as a development issue by prompting the importance of a science-based approach in understanding the effects of its impacts on areas such as food security, health, and loss and damage.  In return, our partners from USeP are aiming to create a PSF-academe technical working group that will support LGUs and CSOs in the region.

At the end of the writeshops, each proponent was able to develop their initial PSF proposal for their communities, most of which are soft projects for institutional development. This is because they want to know more, and plan better, before proposing anything big. It was a good indication that the participants value the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change through proactive and better planning.

As we told them before we left: we should go beyond surviving; we should be thriving.

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