Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management News

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

UP RI meets with MJIIT @ UTM Kuala Lumpur’s DPPC for possible collaboration

November 17, 2017 – Delegates from the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) of the Universiti Teknolohi of Malaysia (UTM) Kuala Lumpur visited the University of the Philippines Resilient Institute (UP RI) office for an institutional collaboration and orientation meeting regarding their efforts in their Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Center (DPPC).

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Dr. Shohei Matsuura, Dr. Khamarrul Azahari Razak, and Dr. Muhamad Ali Muhammad Yuzir arranged a meeting with Dr. Emmanuel M. Luna, a UP RI Fellow from the College of Social Work and Community Development who then introduced the foreign visitors to UP RI as the UP link for future collaborations.

Taking from their tagline of “Engineering the Nation with Precision for Sustainable Development,” the MJIIT @ UTM Kuala Lumpur continually aimed to set up an educational Institute in Malaysia offering Japanese Style Engineering Education which gets sustained support from both the Governments of Malaysia and Japan; thus, the establishment of DPPC in 2010.

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The MJIIT @ UTM Kuala Lumpur representatives presented that their mission was to “facilitate national and international collaborations in applied research, training and field practice for disaster resilience in collaboration with Japanese and other partners.”

To even more establish and strengthen the collaboration with UP RI, the delegates had a Skype meeting with UP RI Executive Director Mahar Lagmay who happened to be in Malaysia attending the Training Workshop on the Predictability of Extreme Weather Events.

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Together with UP RI researchers and representatives, the group discussed the objectives of the DPPC which includes the conduct of applied research in promoting technological innovations and building a knowledge database on disaster resilient societies. DPPC also aims to develop highly skilled human resources with state-of-the-art technologies through higher education programmes.

The delegates were also able to present some of their programs in training, research, and their collaborations with JICA and Japanese University Consortium.

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All of the objectives of DPPC are highly aligned with UP RI’s goals especially in practicing field-oriented and evidence-based actions for supporting [DRRM] decision makers and stakeholders. The meeting indeed opens doors for essential partnerships that will pave the way to new and relevant DRRM innovation.

UP NOAH Researchers in Malaysia for Workshop on the Predictability of Extreme Weather Events (Nov 14 – 16, 2017)

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia -- UP NOAH researchers BA Racoma and Lea Dasallas were present in Malaysia this week for a series of events related to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

UP NOAH Malaysia Nov 2017

Professor Mahar Lagmay (5th from left) and Professor Johnny Chan (6th from left) with the sponsored participants of the program.

The UP NOAH researchers participated in the second Malaysia Window to Cambridge at Univerisiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ([email protected]) Training Workshop on the Predictability of Extreme Weather Events held in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. It was designed to build the capacity of scientists from Malaysia and the region on extreme weather events as well as to serve as a platform for sharing knowledge and views on meteorological services, especially with respect to extreme weather events. Key speakers of the workshop include Professor Lord Julian Hunt, former Chief Executive of the UK Met Office, Professor Johnny Chan internationally renowned expert on typhoons and monsoons, and Dr. Prince Xavier, a climate scientist working on the assessment of model error growth in the Unified Model.

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Participants were selected from an invited pool of applicants. Two researchers of UP NOAH, BA Racoma and Lea Dasallas were selected and granted sponsorships.

The first day of the workshop consisted of regional presentations on extreme weather events, disaster risk reduction practices in the region, and data analytics and presentation. A wide range of topics such as regional rainfall warning levels, air quality in the urban environment, and the effects of urbanization on rainfall were covered. A short and informal tour of the Studio of the Malaysian Meteorological Department was conducted in the middle of the training workshop.

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The Studio office of the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

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A meteorologist of the Malaysian Meteorological Department demonstrating how they present forecasts to the media.

The second day, on the other hand, focused on the complexity of weather forecasts in the ASEAN region, particularly in Malaysia. It covered extreme weather occurrences and general weather patterns that affect these extreme weather occurrences. The day concluded with a business meeting with members of the Asian Network of Climate Science and Technology (ANCST). Dr. Mahar Lagmay, the Executive Director of the UP Resilience Institute, has been a member of the ANCST's International Scientific Advisory Committee Member since 28 February 2014.


Through this event, the UP NOAH Center, as a core component of the UP Resilience Institute, continues to collaborate with like-minded institutions and organizations to improve the country’s capability to prevent and mitigate the potentially disastrous impacts of natural hazards.

UP RI/NOAH Holds Teleconference with UP Campuses for CCA-DRR Initiatives

University of the Philippines Diliman - The UP Resilience Institute (UP RI) and NOAH Center teleconference was held last 20 October 2017 at the conference room of Information Technology Development Center (ITDC) building. Organized and hosted by UP Padayon Director Ma. Crisanta Flores, the activity aimed to discuss the Resilient UP Campuses project and the plans to execute Sen. Loren Legarda’s directive for the UP RI to help the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and lead all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to assist municipalities with formulating and completing their Local Climate Change Adaptation Plans (LCCAP).

Representatives from various departments of UP Diliman attended the meeting as well as officials from UP Manila, UP Baguio, UP Los Banos, UP Mindanao, UP Iloilo, and UP Open University.


UP RI would like to thank all of the representatives who extended their valuable time and expressed their interest in helping with the initiatives of UP RI/NOAH. It was clear in the meeting that the UP community was highly enthusiastic to help in the Climate Change Adaptation - Disaster Risk Reduction (CCA-DRR) efforts of the country. With this spirit, our concerted efforts that build on past accomplishments can forge resilience faster, ahead of future catastrophes.

We also extend our sincerest gratitude to the UP Padayon Office and to Executive Vice President Teodoro J. Herbosa for their invitation and valuable insights and contributions to the success of the initiative and activity.  

We hope to see more representatives from the different UP units for the next UP RI/NOAH teleconference sessions. May we work hand in hand in making a more resilient Philippines!

Legarda Pushes for Water Resource Mgmt, Coastal Mapping for Sustainable Devt of Coastal Areas (Press Release)

This is a Press Release from the office of Senator Loren Legarda dated October 11, 2017.

Senator Loren Legarda stressed the importance of protecting the country’s coastal resources and having a comprehensive water resource management program.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, made the statement during the plenary debates on the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In response to a query on the existence of a master plan for the sustainable development of Laguna de Bay, Legarda said that the DENR already has one but it must be reviewed to ensure a holistic approach in managing the lake as well addressing the needs of the affected populace.

“We need to decongest the surroundings of the lake from informal settler families (ISF), especially those in Lupang Arenda, which is an island of garbage turned into settlement. It is not even habitable and the government, especially the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and National Housing Authority (NHA), should move these families out of the area and find them a humane community,” she stressed.

While the DENR has already demolished 44 illegal fish pens in the lake, which is equivalent to 45% of the total illegal fish pens, Legarda hopes that the resettlement of ISFs can also be done quickly.

“Perhaps the DENR can create a Laguna Lake Task Force not just for resettlement but also to address the issue of siltation and to provide programs such as massive planting of bamboo and sustainable livelihood for the people,” she said, noting that this should also be done in other bodies of water surrounded by communities such as the Manila Bay and the Pasig River.

“It is actually ironic that we are poor when we are abundant in water resources. We have used our bays, lakes and rivers as sewerage and garbage bins. This is not the way to treat our water resources—our source of life. Let us implement our environmental laws, plant mangroves or restore coral reefs, whichever is applicable. We should bring back the bounty and restore the ecological integrity of the Laguna de Bay, Manila Bay, Pasig River, and our other threatened bodies of water,” Legarda urged.

Moreover, the Senator also stressed the need to complete the mapping of coastal resources all over the country “because we would not know what we will protect if we do not know what we actually have.”

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She added that the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) should coordinate closely with the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) so that where there are rich fishing grounds there should also be community fish landing centers, and that coastal protection and conservation programs are in place.

“We have 822 coastal municipalities all over the country and we must know the state of the corals in these areas, the resources that they have including those that can serve as natural buffers like mangroves and seagrass beds, and their resilience programs. Undertaking coastal resource mapping would give us a clearer view of what we have and what interventions are necessary to preserve, protect and sustainably manage these resources. Moreover, the DENR, Climate Change Commission, the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute, and local government units must converge to build the resilience of our coastal communities,” Legarda concluded.***

UP Resilience Institute to Lead SUCs in Assisting LGUs with LCCAP

"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)."

This was the statement that Senator Loren Legarda gave 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.

In terms of the LCCAP rollouts, the UP NOAH Center has worked with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) and the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) group as early as February in assisting LGUs.

She also asked the UP RI to coordinate closely with the National Resilience Council and the Manila Observatory.

The National Resilience Council is composed of representatives from the private and public sector who signed the partnership agreement for a resilient Philippines was signed last August 7, 2017 in reference to President Rodrigo Duterte's call for the "Cabinet cluster on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management to immediately work hand in hand with the concerned LGUS, the private sector and the affected communities themselves in undertaking disaster (resiliency) measures." during his second State of the Nation Address. The signatories were Hans Sy (ARISE), Austere Panadero, Undersecretary of DILG, undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, (OCD administrator and  NDRRMC executive director) as well as representatives of the Makati Business Club, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, the National Competitiveness Council, Manila Observatory, Zuellig Family Foundation and the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation.

The Manila Observatory is a Jesuit scientific research institution with research work in the fields of atmospheric and earth science in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. It advocates a science-based approach to sustainable development and poverty reduction. It is committed to a scientific culture in its regional and global context through research excellence in environmental and pre-disaster science particularly in the areas of atmospheric studies, solid earth dynamics, instrumentation, and applied geomatics.

The UP Resilience Institute was established as a proactive hub of benchmark innovative information vital to the nation's efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Its mission is to empower local communitites through multidisciplinary actions toward resilience.

Loren Legarda on UP RI Senate Hearing 21Sep2017

Watch Sen. Legarda’s statement here

Scientist presses probabilistic map use for LGU plans (LCCAD)

This is a news release from the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) embargoed until September 11, 2017

QUEZON CITY – "A multi-hazard map is more important than single hazard maps in saving lives and averting disasters,” said multi-awarded Filipino scientist during his lecture for the towns of Catarman and Capul, Northern Samar.

Mahar Lagmay, geologist and Executive Director of the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UP RI) and the UP Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) Center, was the resource speaker for the 3-day training workshop (September 6-8, 2017) for the formulation of Community Climate Vulnerability and Disaster Risk Assessment in preparation for Barangay Contingency and Adaptation Plans (CCVDRA-BCAP) of 55 barangay captains of Catarman, and 12 barangay captains of Capul towns. Together with them are their respective Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) Presidents and municipal technical managers.

The event, being conducted in a series of batches, is hosted by the Local Climate Change and Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) in partnership with the UP Resilience Institute, 2nd Congressional Office of Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the Special Committee on Climate Change of the House of Representatives headed by Ako Bikol Partylist Rep. Christopher S. Co, City Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi, Albay, 3rd District Rep. Fernando V. Gonzales, and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-5) led by Regional Director Aida A. Naz.

LCCAD Executive Director Manuel Rangasa said that the event is in response to the call of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte to mainstream Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction and Vulnerability Reduction (DRRVR) into local development planning processes. It is also the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement aside from being an input to House Bill 6075 which will enact a new law creating the Department of Disaster Resilience under the sponsorship of Rep. Salceda.

Lagmay cited the important aspects of effective disaster prevention and mitigation noting the responsibility of the government in giving warnings, the response of the people, and the use of appropriate hazard maps.

“It is the responsibility of the government to deliver accurate, readily accessible, understandable, and timely warnings. However, no amount of warning will work or will be effective if hazard maps are inappropriate,” he said.

Hazard mapping and risk assessment

Lagmay presented the deterministic and probabilistic types of hazard maps used by the government in depicting hazard scenarios and executing DRR plans. Deterministic hazard maps are based mainly on historical recollection and the people’s experience which might make it inaccurate in predicting disasters. Probabilistic maps, on the other hand, rely on scientific data in assessing risk by simulating future multiple scenarios of disasters such as floods, storm surges, and landslides.

“While historical losses can explain the past, they do not necessarily provide a good guide to the future; most disasters that could happen have not happened yet. Probabilistic risk assessment simulates those future disasters which, based on scientific evidence, are likely to occur. As a result, these risk assessments resolve the problem posed by the limits of historical data,” he explained.

Lagmay cited examples of thousands of people killed and properties ruined due to the use of inaccurate maps such as during the onslaught of typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley in 2012 and the Supertyphoon Yolanda in Tacloban, Leyte in 2013 where evacuation centers were constructed in disaster prone areas, killing people right at the evacuation centers where they supposedly sought refuge.

“In Compostela Valley, 566 people heeded warnings by seeking refuge in an evacuation center but it became their grave when a massive debris flow overwhelmed the site,” he said.

“Another example is the Yolanda disaster where 70 percent of evacuation centers in Tacloban were inundated by storm surges, which only tells us that the storm surge hazard maps were erroneous if they were used in the city’s disaster mitigation plan,” Lagmay furthered.

Lagmay said deterministic maps were used in those times.

Moreover, it was in 2012 when the government invested in hazard maps using frontier science and advanced technology to map out the Philippine landscape at very high resolutions.

With this map, Lagmay noted, safe and hazard prone areas can accurately be identified to build a well-planned and resilient community against disasters. “During disasters, it is very important to see safe areas rather than the danger zones because it is where you relocate people,” he added. 

Hazard maps available for public use

Lagmay said that the availability and accessibility of near-real time data via Android platforms provided people with more accurate information allowing them to respond appropriately and save lives like what happened during the Habagat Flood in Marikina and the Ruby Storm Surge in 2014, both resulted in no casualties despite a massive number of houses destroyed.

Lagmay said that maps are available in the NOAH website and in an award-winning mobile app called Arko. The NOAH maps are distributed to empower local government units (LGUs) and even individuals.

He also noted that by knowing the hazards in their neighborhood, people are made aware of the dangers in their community – this is the first step in effective disaster preparedness and mitigation. This entails long term education and cultivating a culture of safety and preparedness in communities along with the standardization of a national CCA-DRR program.