TWO leading foreign development-aid agencies will bolster the capacities of Philippine cities in addressing the effects of climate-induced disruptions.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) recently signed a P111.5-million ($2 million) grant partnership agreement to boost the capabilities of the cities of Batangas, Borongan, Cotabato, Iloilo, Legazpi and Zamboanga in adapting to, mitigating and managing the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
Through the grant funding, Koica will support the implementation of the USAID’s five-year, P836.5-million ($15 million) “Climate Resilient Cities Project” that will benefit the above-mentioned partner-cities.
The former’s technical assistance will enhance the capacities of the said local government units (LGUs) in developing guidelines for and using climate-adaptation technology. More than 180 Philippine officials and stakeholders will also be invited to participate in capacity-building programs organized in the Philippines and the Republic of Korea (ROK)/South Korea.
USAID and Koica will also aid the six LGUs and other stakeholders for more effective spreading of climate-related information to local communities; increased access to climate financing for economic and social development; and promotion of natural climate solutions that strengthen cities’ resilience to climate change.
In addition, the US and South Korean governments will soon launch a joint effort to prevent and reduce marine pollution in Manila Bay. The collaboration also seeks to enhance knowledge and influence social and behavioral changes for marine pollution reduction and prevention.
This latest agreement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in April 2021, when the two leading development agencies agreed to strategically collaborate on priority programs, which include climate change-related initiatives, to advance development in the Philippines.
“As the US and Korea are among the largest bilateral donors in the Philippines, this momentous partnership of USAID, Koica and the Philippine government will bring together our accumulated experiences and technical expertise to build climate change and disaster resilience in the country,” Country Director Kim Eun-sub of Koica said.
“For 70 years the US and Korea have [united] to pursue mutual goals based on our core values of democracy and human rights,” averred Mission Director Ryan Washburn of USAID Phils. “The US has pledged to [boost this alliance and broaden the focus to address issues of key importance to the region, and of] the world.”
Washburn added that, particularly, they will deepen their linkage in tackling the climate crisis, reducing plastic waste, and promoting advanced technologies: “We will also enhance our economic cooperation and people-to-people ties.”
The Philippines consistently places high in global rankings on climate-change risk and vulnerability. With an average of 20 typhoons per year frequented by floods, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone nations.
According to the 2022 World Risk Index the country ranked first out of 193 countries with the highest disaster risks. Between 2011 and 2021 it incurred more than P670-billion worth of damages and losses due to tropical cyclones alone. The negative impacts of climate change and disasters severely impede national economic development and worsen poverty.
Thus, a top priority for sustainable development is to reinforce climate-resilience systems. The USAID-Koica tie-up bolsters the Philippine government’s 2023-2028 strategy framework goal of enhancing “adaptive capacity and resilience of communities and ecosystems to natural hazards and climate change.”
The US-ROK alliance will turn 70 years in 2023. In their leader’s statement in May 2022, President Joe Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to strengthen the global comprehensive strategic alliance beyond the Korean Peninsula.
Image credits: US Embassy