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Keeping an eye on Philippine climate money

For many years, the Philippines has consistently been among the countries considered highly vulnerable to climate change.

Ostensibly in order to reduce vulnerability and to increase its ability to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis, international climate change-related funding has been coursed to the Philippines through national government agencies and non-government organizations.

Also known as adaptation finance, climate funds for adaptation initiatives in the country have increased steadily since 2009. Unfortunately, just like other important funding sources, adaptation finance is limited.

Setting the right priorities is therefore key.

What strategies should adaptation funding support, and which regions should benefit most? Based on what criteria? Using what scale? Under which modalities?

These questions, and more, are the focus of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative in the Philippines.

Led by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, in partnership with the World Resources Institute, Overseas Development Institute and Oxfam, the AFAI project examines international adaptation-tagged funding channeled to the country by analyzing allocation and spending patterns, tagging practices, and tracking the deployment of resources down to the local level.

Contributor countries, through the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, multilateral and bilateral banks provided a total of US$367.7 million or Php16.4 billion (US$1= Php 44.6) during the period 2009 to 2012.

But what activities were supported? Who were the contributing countries and institutions? Which national agency or organization received adaptation funding?

These are important questions.

In 2009, the Philippines received US$ 4.1 million in adaptation-tagged funds.

In 2010, adaptation finance inflow registered US$ 186.4 million.

For 2011, adaptation funding was US$ 87.7 million, while US$ 89.5 million came into the country in 2012.

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These funds were reported by contributor (also called “donor”) countries through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and multilateral and bilateral banks as sources for climate change adaptation initiative funding in the country.

Adaptation to climate change is defined as adjustments made in natural systems to address the potential effects of climate change <http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/annexessglossary-a-d.html>.

By their very nature, adaptation initiatives should anticipate projected climatic impacts.

Interestingly, the current sectoral distribution of climate finance in the Philippines in 2010 and 2011 shows that almost half of the fund has gone to reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, soon after episodic disasters such as typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

The immediate delivery of services after disasters is critical but climatic impacts comprise more than just episodic extreme events.

Slow onset impacts such as changes in a locality’s hydrology, incremental increases or reduction in precipitation and average temperatures, sea level rise, and ocean acidification — these already take place throughout the year in many localities. Mostly unfelt, without the drama of a calamity, these types of impacts are usually neglected.

The result: equal, if not more devastating, long-term effects that can be irreparable based on the magnitude and duration of the effect.

How much of future adaptation finance will be channeled towards strategic, adaptive initiatives?

How much will be deployed towards reactive climate change response activities?

What strategies can reduce the many vulnerabilities of the Philippines?

What picture will emerge in 2014, once the massive pledges (and to an increasing extent, disbursement) of funding related to the response to supertyphoon Yolanda, are taken into account?

To what extent will climate change ultimately re-shape the Philippine government’s annual national budget deliberations?

Editor’s Note: The original article [infographic] titled “Following the Numbers: Keeping an eye on Philippine climate money” was published  last March 17, 2014. 

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