Unified map urged to address climate change

By Marie Katherine Villalon

Can the Philippines increase its food production despite agricultural losses caused by climate change so that it can feed all its citizens by year 2050? From typhoons alone, the Philippines has incurred a damage of P1 billion while climate change cost has amounted to P799 billion.

 We can try, by implementing multi-hazard risk integration through unified mapping, according to an Ilonggo scientist and geospatial expert during the Western Visayas Climate Change and El Nino lecture forum organized by the Panay Organic Producers Association last July 8, 2014. 

“Climate change has caused extreme weather events, decline in crop yields, loss of rich forests, and damage to coastal resources, which also threaten national security,” said Dr. Esteban Godilano, technical adviser of the Department of Agriculture on Climate Change, geospatial expert of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Climate Change Commission (CCC) Ecotown Project, and resident scientist of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).
Dr. Esteban Godilano
“If the current climate change trend persists, by 2050, yields of irrigated crops will decrease significantly; i.e. maize, 17%, wheat: 12%, and rice: 10%, according to an ADB report in 2009,” he said. 

BENEFITS TO AGRICULTURE. “A unified map will benefit agriculture. For example, crop suitability mapping will show that only Calinog and Bingawan are most suitable for agriculture. There are 15 crops and 20 crops that you can plant in Calinog and Bingawan, respectively. Through mapping, you’ll see the need for Climate Change Resistant Agriculture wherein you identify flood-resistant crops,” Dr. Godilano told municipal agriculturists, farmer-leaders and organic producers who attended the lecture.“Our goal of achieving agricultural productivity, sustainability, and food security in the future will in part depend on our ability to predict and manage changes in our agricultural landscape and the effects of a changing climate on Department of Agriculture policies and governance,” he added.
Thematic maps vs integrated map

AVERT CASUALTIES DURING CALAMITIES.  Dr. Godilano stressed that use of a unified map can also avert casualties during calamities. 

He narrated that in 2009, he presented is flooding map in Cagayan de Oro. Since the province is located near a watershed, he warned stakeholders that CDO will become another Marikina, a flood-prone city in Metro Manila. “After my presentation, they said it was scary. Then, Sendong happened in 2011 to prove it,” Dr. Godilano said. About 1,200 died when Sendong caused flooding in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. 

“With mapping you will see a land’s risk. If it is very high and extremely high, there should be no more settlement in those areas. It will be allotted for a different land use,” he said.
Paradigm shift in rice production

He also cited the storm surge that happened in Leyte. “All flood-prone areas are prone to storm surges. Before typhoon Yolanda has entered the Philippine area of responsibility last November 2013, if they used a map, they could have predicted the storm surge and ordered a forced evacuation. The Philippines already has a storm surge map as early as 1998 in Cornell University, USA.” 

“Releasing press releases and advisories is not enough. They should rely on maps and even satellite images prior to making a tactical action,” he said.

 “The Department of Natural Resources has geohazard maps. The Department of Science and Technology has a READY project. The local government units have many thematic maps but these do not include climate change as part of the mapping variables. These maps are based on historical records, experiential and deterministic assumptions,” he stressed. “So, let us make an integrated map. Let us unify all maps,” he said.

Crop suitability map with Yolanda impact areas in the province of Iloilo
LEGAL BASIS  Mapping to address climate change has a legal basis, he said. He cited Climate Change Act or RA 9729, Section 13 which calls for the implementation of a climate change action plan that includes assessment of the national impact of climate change; identification of the most vulnerable communities/areas, including ecosystems to the impacts of climate change, variability and extremes; identification of differential impacts of climate change on men, women and children; assessment and management of risk and vulnerability;  identification of GHG mitigation potentials; and identification of options, prioritization of appropriate adaptation measures for joint projects of national and local governments.
Dr. Godilano's presentation in Cagayan de Oro 2 years before Sendong

WANTED: MEN OF GOODWILL Furthermore, Dr. Godilano urged for a serious implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law and the Clean Air Act. He also urges for a stop in corruption as this hinders the country from its climate change mitigation efforts. “We urgently need men of goodwill,” he concluded./
Data simulation of Tacloban City storm surge

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Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Climate change action and economic growth (ADB)
Video: Aerial View of Cagayan de Oro City during the wrath of Typhoon Sendong

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