Resource use to adapt to climate change and resiliency disasters

By Prof. Jeanette Deslate, EnP

Nostalgia sets in as our grandparents would relate how they live many years back. Experiences remembered and spread by word of mouth would tell us that life long time ago was simple yet pleasant, slow but stress-free, work is done manually but the fruits are sweeter and healthy, families were big but stronger in difficult times.The world has become smaller with information technology and automation. People, too have changed: from simple and uncomplicated to complex and diverse. The same could be said about the environment: natural calamities have become stronger, fiercer and deadly.
As people experience the wrath of natural calamities, specifically flooding and hurricanes, their attitudes towards resource use, like the sea, forests and rivers, have seriously considered how the present practices could affect the future.

Our country, the Philippines composed of more than 7,000 islands, is prone to severe natural disasters including volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, typhoons, earthquake, floods, mudflows, fires and drought.  According to United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the nation ranks twelfth among 200 countries on the Mortality Risk Index on the risk of tropical cyclones, floods, earthquakes and landslides.  During the past 30 years with a record of 268 disasters, the Philippines ranks eighth among countries most exposed to multiple hazards, according to the World Bank’s list of natural disaster hotspots (Global Facility of Disaster Reduction and Recovery 2009 Philippines).  Sea levels are expected to rise in the coming years, threatening 70 per cent of the 1,500 municipalities located along the coast (UNISDR).

These natural calamities and climate change, in general, have become special topics of research and studies which gave insights on how people cope and manage these life-changing occurences.  These studies explores the diferent aspects of the environment and on how they change society.  Also included in these studies is on how natural resources are utilized and as documentation of good governance and management.

Cheryl Joy Fernandez, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate from James Cook University (JCU) in Australia and Assistant Professor from the College of Management UP Visayas, is investigating the link between the human well-being and river flooding in Metro Iloilo area. The study will explore the impact of the incidence and size of river flooding events on the well-being of the residents and their willingness to pay for remedies to prevent future flooding. The findings of this research targets a better understanding and appreciation of tropical rainforest environments, which subsequently contributes to improved management and protection of tropical forests. 

The study area consists of the city of Iloilo and 6 towns surrounding the city (Iloilo City, Pavia, Leganes, Oton, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan and San Miguel), all members of the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council (MIGEDC). From November to January, Fernandez conducted 8 focus group discussions from 12 towns in the MIGEDC areas, wherein participants from various employment industries discussed what makes them satisfied with their lives as well as what they think of their natural environment.

Another attempt to maximize proper utilization of resources, is a study on Water Governance for Development, a research under the  emerging inter-disciplinary research program of the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA) of the University of the Philippines.  This aims to formulate location- and culture specific surface water governance mechanism that can minimize if not totally eradicate present and future conflicts in all sectors of governance.  The project will conduct surveys and interviews at most 300 water managers from 10 provinces all over the country which will generate data and analysis on water laws, policies, and organizations that are components of water governance.

Another research paper deals with the documentation of processess undertaken by the management of the Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council and the measurement of the attitudes of people living in the vicinity of the river through an environmental attitude scale.  This study is undertaken by three professors (Dr. Rhodella Ibabao, Profs. Vicente Balinas and Jeanette Deslate) from UP Visayas under the in-house study grant of the University.

Fernandez’s study is funded by the Skyrail Rainforest Foundation, AUSAid Australian Leadership Awards Scholarship (ALAS), the JCU School of Business PhD Funding Scheme and the UP Dissertation Grant. Supervisors are from James Cook University (JCU) are Dr. Riccardo Welters and Prof. Natalie Stoeckl.  The Water Governance study, on the other hand is handled by program experts from UP Los Banos, UP Baguio, UP Visayas (Dr. Joy Lizada, Dr. Rosalie Arcala-Hall and Dr. Ida Siason) with program advisors from World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Malaysia) and National University of Singapore.

With these endeavor by the academe, it is expected that people will deeply understand the use of these natural resource and on how to develop resiliency in facing the challenges of a natural calamity and climate change.  BACK TO HOME

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