Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management News

Compilation of latest research news on climate change adaptation/management and disaster risk management

CCC Conducts Project ReBUILD Meeting with UP NOAH and Other Partners

Ortigas, Quezon City - A board meeting was held last Tuesday, January 30, by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to implement the Exit Strategy and Sustainability Plan (ESSP) for the ReBUILD Project.

The Resilience Capacity Building for Cities and Municipalities to Reduce Disaster Risks from Climate Change and Natural Hazards, Phase 1 Project is administered by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP). The project was also made possible through the contribution of key agencies including DOST - PAGASA, OCD, DILG, DENR-RCBO, NEDA, HLURB, DPWH, PCW as well as the other partner CSOs and NGOs.

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One of the main objectives of the project is to improve the capacity of local communities and stakeholders to address potential disaster risks from natural hazards and impacts of climate change by using science-based vulnerability and risk assessment in the formulation and implementation of their plans and actions. The beneficiaries of the project include the five pilot municipalities from Cagayan River Basin in Region II and Jalaur River Basin in Region VI. These consist of the City of Tuguegarao and the Municipality of Iguig in the province of Cagayan; and the City of Passi and Municipalities of Zarraga and Dumangas in the province of Iloilo.

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For its part, the UP NOAH Center, core component of the UP Resilience Institute, helped the CCC develop the Geospatial Analytics National Platform (GANaP) which serves as a repository for the exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, vulnerability and risk level data for the partner communities. The platform is embedded as a feature in the UP NOAH website so that Local Government Units (LGUs) can utilize the vulnerability and risk assessment features that will be produced through Project ReBUILD.

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Exposure unit map of the Municipality of Zarraga, Iloilo displayed at the UP NOAH Center website under the ReBUILD feature.

UP RI and NOAH Researchers Visit the UP Los Baños Campus for the Resilient Campuses Project

As part of the UP Resilience Institute and UP NOAH Center's efforts under the UP Resilient Campuses Project, researchers visited the University of the Philippines Los Baños Campus last week, from January 16 to 19, 2018.

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Some of the objectives for the event include the validation of OpenStreetMap data in the campus, capacity assessment of the different units through interviews, and collection of existing reference material from the university records. Examples of the baseline data gathered by the team are the campus' Land Use Map, occupational health and safety standards committee reports from 2013 to 2017, Engineering Geological and Geohazards Assessment Report (EGGAR) on the proposed expansion project in the lower and upper campuses of the university, and the campus' environmental performance report and management plan.

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The team also held a meeting with campus officials to discuss further collaboration with the UP Resilience Institute with its efforts for the Resilient Campuses Project and other initiatives. This includes the endeavor to help the Climate Change Commission in training Local Government Units (LGUs) with science-based information and technologies for development planning by using multi-scenario, probabilistic hazard models. This directive is stated under the Special Provision of the General Appropriations Act of 2018 (GAA 2018) which was signed into law last December 19, 2017.

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UP Los Baños College of Arts and Sciences Dean, Felino P. Lansigan (far left), along with representatives of the different Vice Chancellor's Offices were present at the meeting with the UP Resilience Institute.

Geologists from the UP RI and NOAH Center also trekked the slopes of Mount Makiling to gather rock samples and validate the previously completed landslide hazard maps that can be viewed and downloaded on the NOAH website.

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A UP NOAH researcher investigates a lava flow deposit site in Mount Makiling.

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A geologist of the UP NOAH Center examines the aftermath of an October 2017 landslide along the slopes of Mount Makiling.

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51 buildings in the campus were surveyed for additional information to be included in the OpenStreetMap (OSM) platform.

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32 building administrators were interviewed to gather information about the campus' facilities as well as existing plans and efforts to build resilience against climate change and adverse natural hazard impacts.

AmCham Philippines Members Visit the UP NOAH Center for Meeting on DRR for Business Continuity

UP Diliman, Quezon City -- Officers, members and representatives of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, Manila Country Council (OSAC), and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) of the Philippines, Security and Disaster Resources Group Committee (SDRG) visited the National Institute of Geological Sciences yesterday, January 18, to know more about the UP NOAH Center's efforts to enhance the preparedness and resilience of the Philippines relative to disasters and climate change impacts. It also served as an avenue to know how  AmCham's member businesses can integrate these efforts into their organizations' business continuity activities.

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In his presentation, Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Director of the UP NOAH Center, stressed the importance of probabilistic hazard maps for long-term development initiatives. "We must capture the hazards of the future," he emphasized. He also gave a summary of historical disasters that took place in the Philippines and how numerous initiatives of the government including then-project NOAH and the NDRRMC's Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) system helped avert potential disasters using "hazard-specific, time-bound and area-focused assessments of probable impacts."

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Representatives of the Member Businesses of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Philippines listen to Dr. Lagmay's presentation on the UP NOAH Center at their January 18 meeting in the National Institute of Geological Sciences, UP Diliman.

AmCham's  main objectives for the meeting were to:

  • Learn about the updates and capacities/capabilities of UP NOAH;
  • Learn how to integrate UP NOAH into [their] business continuity planning and responses;
  • Learn how UP NOAH is helping to build a more resilient nation;
  • Learn how to help [their] staff and stakeholders use NOAH’s applications in real time to protect lives;
  • Establish bilateral liaison with [other] members, with a view to encouraging members to participate more fully in dealing with weather and climate issues in their work place and family environment as well as the community at large.

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OSAC is associated with the US State Department and US Embassy Manila’s Regional Security Office.  It brings together the security and safety senior executives and leaders of US companies operating in the Philippines, and employing tens of thousands of Filipinos, to discuss and exchange information on security and related matters.  In addition, these leaders are focused on business continuity and disaster preparedness, mitigation and management.

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AmCham’s SDRG is a similar organization, but independent of OSAC, bringing together a good number of firms also employing tens of thousands of Filipinos to discuss and exchange information on disaster preparation and management.

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Dr. Mahar Lagmay (3rd from Left) and Dr. Stephen P. Cutler (4th from Left), Chairman of the Overseas Security Advisory Group Manila Country Council, with UP NOAH Center Researchers at the event's Closing Ceremonies.

Resilience begins at home (UP System)

By Fred Dabu

This article was originally published by the University of the Philippines (UP ) on January 10, 2018.

Mandated to advance national development and also to help save people’s lives, the University of the Philippines established the UP Resilience Institute (RI) in July 2016, followed by its adoption of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) Center in March 2017 as its core component.

By harnessing the expertise of academics and professionals in the fields of science and technology as well as the arts and humanities, these UP hubs are at the forefront of scientific research and extension work on natural hazards, climate change actions, disaster risk reduction (DRR), and the promotion of disaster resilience in the Philippines and the Pacific Rim.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world, and minding its many tantrums is the unenviable but vital job of UP’s top disaster scientist, Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco A. Lagmay. A faculty member of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), Lagmay also concurrently heads the RI and the NOAH Center.

Dr. Lagmay obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UP and holds a PhD degree in Earth Sciences from the University of Cambridge. He is also an Academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

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UP RI Executive Director Alfredo Mahar Lagmay speaks to Mayors, Municipal Planners, and Disaster Risk Reduction Officers during the National Rollout and Training-Workshop on the Formulation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP).

Our own backyard

One of the first projects of the RI and the NOAH Center aims to make all UP campuses and communities around the country resilient to climate change and geared for long-term development.

Lagmay explains that UP “must first do it in our own backyard, if we are to get all municipalities to prepare and plan ahead. We can’t preach what we don’t practice. The first step is to do the resilient campuses project so that it can be a model for campuses in the Philippines.” He says that the project uses climate change projections prescribed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific and intergovernmental body under the United Nations.

“We have to translate the projections of climate change into hazard maps that can be used by the UP campuses to plan ahead and to develop. Before we do it for the entire Philippines, we must do it in our backyard first. I’m not saying the campuses are not planned. I’m saying that campuses need to be more resilient and adaptive to the climate change impacts, building resilience, which is relatively a new concept,” Lagmay says.


On October 20, 2017, the UP Padayon Office hosted the UP RI and NOAH Center’s teleconference with representatives from UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Baguio, UPLB, UP Mindanao, UP Iloilo and UP Open University.

Probabilistic hazard maps

According to Lagmay, the RI and NOAH have many projects lined up, aside from the resilient UP campuses project. Among these are the completion of climate flood maps for the entire Philippines for the years 2049-2079, and the landslide maps for 2049-2079, based on the representative concentration pathways 4.5 and 8.5 as prescribed by the IPCC.

“We also are producing storm surge hazard maps with climate change projections. Basically, these are multi-scenario, multi-hazard maps. Collectively, they’re called probabilistic hazard maps that get us to understand better the risks involved in planning against hazard impacts. We also have a project on detecting CO2 using low-cost UV cameras, and another on solid waste management,” Lagmay adds.

“We are also proposing to study the interaction of the seas, land, and atmosphere. Because here in the Philippines and in other tropical areas, as well as areas near the equator, it’s very hard to predict weather, and largely that may be due to unknown factors related to the interaction of the sea, ocean, land and atmosphere. That needs to be understood,” he emphasizes.

Dr. Lagmay says that Senator Loren Lagarda wanted the UP Resilience Institute “to lead all the state universities and colleges in helping the Climate Change Commission get the local government units to complete their local climate change action plans.”

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OpenStreetMap volunteers at the OpenStreetMap and Grab’s Mapping Party held at the Grab Headquarters in Makati on November 25, 2017. They helped in mapping the building footprints of the UP campuses around the country to aid in the UP Resilient Campuses Project of the UP RI.

He looks forward to completing the abovementioned tasks. “It’s a huge task. But with all the previous projects that we have been engaged in over the past several years—like the 30 mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in 34 municipalities of Leyte and Samar, and the ReBUILD projects in Iloilo and Cagayan—we have learned a lot. And with the proper budget, we can cascade this knowledge through the different UP campuses to the state universities and colleges, so each state university and college can be an information and training hub for their locality.”

This setup will also leverage “the technical expertise of the different faculty members of all of these universities across different sectors: health, infrastructure, energy, environment, biodiversity, tourism, and many other sectors,” Lagmay explains.

Open and shared data

“Disaster risk is an unresolved problem of development. If the communities plan well, if they are smart in developing, putting the structures, the evacuation centers, critical facilities out of harm’s way, or if it’s in harm’s way, knowing what to do to address the problem, you are actually reducing disaster risk. So by reducing disaster risk you are becoming more adaptive and resilient through development planning,” he adds.

This will enable the development of communities nationwide, spurring economic growth and meeting the goals of sustainable development.

But this kind of whole-of-government approach will require open and shared data. “To be able to do all of those things, you need to open up data. You need everybody to have access. And all over the world, that’s where disaster prevention and mitigation are leading. We share to generate more knowledge that’s more powerful to address our problems. If you don’t share the data, if data is kept under control in certain offices, you may compromise opportunity, and that opportunity could be a chance to save lives.”

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The Philippines’ South South collaboration on Climate Information and Services between the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), UP RI, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was launched on November 23, 2017 at the Sofitel Hotel during the Climate Change Consciousness week. In Photo: Assistant Secretary Evelyn Cruzada, Office of the Cabinet Secretary; Mayor Ronaldo Golez of Dumangas, Iloilo; CCC Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman; Mr. Oscar Lizardo, NOAH Center Information Chief; Ms. Rosalina De Guzman, Chief of the Climate Data section of PAGASA; and Dr. Bjoern Surborg of GIZ.

According to Lagmay, NOAH data can be downloaded via the Internet “preferably by bulk download,” without any preconditions. “If it’s publicly funded, the people should be able to access and take advantage of that information. In time, with the work of NOAH and the UP Resilience Institute, with better education, we can learn to be able to share valuable data that saves people’s lives. That is one of the main goals of UP RI and NOAH,” he said.

He also urges the use of transdiciplinary tools to promote disaster and risk awareness. “Use music, use poetry, use the arts to raise awareness about disasters. Science must be embraced by the people. Because if it gets embraced, its value grows. There’s direct application. Benefits are seen. And for the field of disaster risk reduction, it will mean saving lives and getting communities to develop better, unhampered by natural hazard impacts,” Lagmay concludes.

UP RI Mandated to Empower LGUs in 2018 General Appropriations Act

The General Appropriations Act of 2018 was signed into law last December 19, 2017 and detailed the P3.767 trillion national budget for the year 2018.

The UP Resilience Institute is included in the budget appropriations for the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), which received a 5.79% increase in its budget compared to 2017.

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"The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UP RI), together with other state universities and colleges, shall support the Climate Change Commission in training LGUs to formulate and complete Local Climate Change Action Plans (LCCAP) and Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plans (CLUDP). The UPRI shall empower LGUs with science-based information and technologies for development planning, such as Climate Vulnerability and Disaster Risk Assessment (CVDRA) and multi-scenario, probabilistic hazard maps."

This echoed Senator Loren Legarda's statement during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the proposed 2018 budgets of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on September 21, 2017.

"If all the SUCs (State Universities and Colleges) will help the LGUs (Local Government Units) in the respective areas, mapapabilis (it will be expedited), we'll finish it by 2018. 'Yan ang target natin (That's our target), but I need a shepherd; I need a lead, and that lead will be UP Resilience Institute. That's part of your mandate. So, may I request UP to lead all other SUCs to help CCCom teach local governments to complete their LCCAPs (Local Climate Change Action Plan)."

Filipino Scientists Featured in the 2nd Indie-Siyensya Filmmaking Competition

UP Diliman, Quezon City -- The 2nd Indie-Siyensya Filmmaking Competition award ceremony took place at Aldaba Hall of the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus last December 5. The competition organized by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) “focuses on the promoting of communication of scientific concepts through film platform.” This year, DOST-SEI collaborated with UP College of Mass Communication to emphasize the “value of the audio-visual medium in science education” with the theme "A Portrait of the Filipino as a Scientist."

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Photo courtesy of Newsbytes Philippines.

Two projects won the Best Film award for the Youth and Science & Technology Professional category. Philippine Science High School - Central Luzon students won the Youth category for their film on Nicholas Czar Antonio with the title “Ilusyon” while "Paglabud" (When the Waves Swell) of ThinkConnect.PH won the S&T Professional category for their work focused on Dr. Margie Dela Cruz.

A documentary featuring UP Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) Center Director and UP Resilience Institute Executive Director Mahar Lagmay as a Filipino scientist won the Viewers’ Choice Special Award. Videos for the category were chosen by viewers after they were streamed online from November 27 to December 1.

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Photo from DOST-SEI Facebook post.

Members of the UP Academic League of Chemical Engineering Students, Incorporated (UP ALCHEMES, Inc.), a duly registered youth serving organization recognized by the National Youth Commission, filmed the feature documentary conveying the theme “A Portrait of a Filipino Scientist.”

The students invited Dr. Lagmay as a featured scientist, with their recognition of the impacts of Project NOAH not just in the disaster risk reduction and management but in the whole scientific community of our country. Their documentary film explored Dr. Lagmay's career in disaster research which led to his leadership of the UP NOAH Center.

“The program NOAH was designed to gather all of the funded research development projects of the government and put them together. Those that were related to disaster risk reduction, [were put] into operation so that there will be a direct impact of the research to the people that are in need," Dr. Lagmay said.