The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) held yesterday, March 13, the first conference-workshop on climate change to formally kick-off Ilocos Norte climate change task force organized in line with Executive Order 149-13 signed by Governor Imee R. Marcos last February 27.
The event themed “Rise to the Challenge of Climate Change”, now also the slogan of the task force, gathered government officials and employees, and representatives from various sectors and agencies.
Highlighting the event were presentations by resource speakers who tackled the hazards and triggers relevant to specific “zones” identified in Ilocos Norte.
In her speech, Gov. Marcos underlined the different “climate change disasters” that Ilocos Norte is prone to, like landslides, droughts, earthquakes, and flooding with the latter being associated to typhoons which are considered most damaging to the province like the typhoon “Mina” which registered millions of damages last 2011.
“More than one-third of the provincial budget for engineering and infrastructure is being used to repair damages by climate change disasters rather than it being used to take steps towards development,” Gov. Marcos said.
“Most of all, it is important that people also know what to do and they are in fact in the ring of fire,” she added.
Another part of the event enjoined the different participating municipalities to formulate their own disaster management plans and climate change calendars which shall chronologically note Ilocos Norte’s year-round localized adaptation activities.
“This exercise is based on the old Ilocano habit of preparing for the rainy season and not merely from the government to come, search and rescue and give out emergency supplies,” Gov. Marcos said.
With the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) support, the task force plans on advancing on its other functions subsequent to the event, such as its series of assessments on the impact of climate change, upcoming programs to ensure strict standards against environment degradation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and its conduction of a province-wide awareness campaign on climate change issues.
With Provincial Administrator Atty. Windell D. Chua as the chairman, the task force is also composed of representatives from various Capitol offices and departments, National Irrigation Administration-Ilocos Norte, Philippine National Police-Ilocos Norte, PAG-ASA, Department of Education, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Research Development and Directorate of Mariano Marcos State University.
“This is the first effort to adapt and concretize what we know about climate change. To make it simplistic but operational so that we can act on it,” Gov. Marcos said.
In November 2012, PGIN started its innovations to further its climate change and disaster risk management.
Among its initial strategies was to partner with the Environment and Natural Resources Office on a greening program which gave rise to 500 ‘Barangay Ranger Officers’ who successfully reforested 225 hectares in less than four months after its inception.
PGIN has also furthered its strides to become a renewable energy center when a 20-megawatt solar farm broke ground last November 15, 2012 in Currimao, Ilocos Norte.
Consequently, foreign delegates of the Poverty-Environment Initiative under UNDP lauded these strategies and projects by the PGIN, tagging them as ideal blueprints for the other provinces to follow.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO