Legarda Urges Disaster-Resilient Development Planning in Coastal Cities

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the assessment of the disaster risks posed by climate change in different parts of the country must be an integral part of urban planning, stressing that most cities and municipalities are coastal areas, which are more vulnerable to threats such as sea level rise and weather in extremes.

In her message at the launch of the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) Project by the Manila Observatory (MO) and the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Legarda emphasized that an estimated 2.8 billion people, or more than 40% of the total global population, are living in coastal cities, and the Philippines is one of the ten countries with the most number of people in these areas. There are 832 municipalities and 25 cities in the country classified as coastal areas.

“Almost three months ago, the coastal cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on the island of Mindanao suffered massive casualties and devastation as a result of the onslaught of tropical storm Sendong, an extreme weather event as scientifically affirmed by the Manila Observatory. The deadly brew of situations that led to this disaster reminds us that it is our choices — environmental degradation and bad urban development, that worsens the effects of disasters, in addition to the threats of climate change,” she explained.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that a recent study jointly undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank, with Manila as one of its focus, revealed that more people are likely to be exposed to flooding by the year 2050 and the impact on the poor and vulnerable will be substantial.

The study predicts that in a worst-case scenario, a major flood could cause damage totaling almost a quarter of the Metro Manila’s gross domestic product (GDP) or equivalent to Php560-billion.

“Urban environmental management is important for climate adaptation. Moreover, cities need to make a proactive effort to consider climate-related risks as an integral part of urban planning and this must be done now,” she pointed out.

“This ADB-JICA-WB study tells us that targeted, city-specific solutions combining infrastructure investments, zoning, and ecosystem-based strategies are required, and because of the unique characteristics of each city, city-specific and innovative approaches to urban adaptation are necessary,” the Senator stressed.

Legarda said that the Coastal Cities at Risk Project is an initiative that will be critical to local climate adaptation.

The main goal of the MO-Ateneo joint undertaking is to gather all information relevant to the level of vulnerability to disasters of coastal cities and the manner by which these communities can effectively reduce the risks.

“Fundamentally, the research will give Metro Manila leaders and development planners the guidance they need to prepare for the worst hazards. It will aid local government officials in integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in local development planning,” Legarda concluded.***