Welcome to the December edition of the best practices monthly feature which completes our Dubai International Award winner's series. In this feature, we highlight how local governments can use a participatory watershed land-use management approach to make their development efforts climate-sensitive and reduce the impact of climate change by including appropriate countermeasures in their land-use plans.

In the Philippines, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and partners at the University of the Philippines Los Banos sort to find a way to better incorporate climate change adaptation measures into the local governments' land-use and development plans. The plans consist of the following four steps:

  1. Scenario Analysis
  2. Risk Assessment
  3. Countermeasure Development
  4. Land-use Plan Improvement

To end the year, this marks the last feature of the Best Practices winners from the 11th Cycle of the Dubai International Award endorsed by UN-Habitat and Dubai Municipality. In the coming year, we will continue to highlight more Best Practices from the UN-Habitat and other resourceful channels including publications and reports. We hope that these best practices will inform and inspire you on initiatives that are making effective interventions to improve the lives of urban residents around the globe.

Name of organization: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

Country: Philippines

WINNER of the University Research Award

This award aims to recognize outstanding research on this thematic area. The research will be judged based on breaking new ground, introducing new thinking, having high impact and inspiring others in this thematic area. The research should have provided significant information, perspectives and analysis on the areas listed below; and highlighted national and local government/s that have adopted and implemented laws and regulatory mechanisms to support the process of well-planned urbanization, including transparent legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms.

While synergies among climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCA&M) policies exist, little common understanding has been established on how to introduce CCA&M policies in an integrated manner. A holistic approach to land-use planning and management at the local level can help meet this challenge. To test this idea, with support from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños launched a pilot project with local governments in the Philippines in 2014. This project aims to examine the necessary conditions for integrating climate change measures – adaptation and mitigation – by improving land-use planning at the river basin level. The project spans several cities in one watershed in the Philippines and engages municipalities and government agencies.

This video below addresses weather-related disasters caused by intensive land development and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change.

Because of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, a vast area of land in the subwatershed, especially the cities of Santa Rosa and Biñan, have been converted for industrial use in the past two decades. Population growth, land-use change, and climate change have altered the water resources in the river basin in ways that have negatively impacted the availability of drinking water, public health, and food security, associated with large weather-related natural disasters such as floods and landslides.


1. Scenario Analysis

The first step, scenario analysis, aimed at understanding the problems that the local governments faced in addressing natural disasters and other impacts of climate change, and also the future development and land-use that the local governments plan.

Participatory rapid appraisal activities, specifically the key informant and focus group discussions and the participatory mapping, were conducted with representatives from the four local governments. About 30 officials participated in the discussions, who were in charge of urban planning, agriculture, environment, and disaster risk reduction and management. The officials were asked to draw a future land-use map as of 2025 on tracing papers overlaid on the current land-use map as of 2014.

2. Risk Assessment

The second step, risk assessment, aimed to quantify the damage arising from floods due to typhoons and long periods of rain by identifying the areas, population, and structures such as infrastructure, buildings, and facilities, exposed to flood risks. Geographical information system (GIS) and remote sensing techniques were applied, and to estimate the population vulnerable to flooding in the subwatershed, a Landsat satellite image, national census population data, and a flood susceptibility map were used. The future land-use, obtained from Step one, was processed as GIS data.

3. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCA&M)

Step three, CCA&M measure development, aimed to devise possible climate actions for both adaptation and mitigation in consultation with the local governments and prioritise these actions according to their feasibility and urgency. Another focus group discussion session where a set of possible countermeasures were presented requested the officials to identify measures based on the needs of each local government.

Land-use Plan Improvement

Further consultation then led to the identification of priority measures. Step four, land-use plan improvement, aimed to support local governments to strengthen their land-use and related development plans through dialogue on the recommendations generated from the previous three steps.

In the scenario and risk analyses, the pilot project has identified the area and population likely to be affected by flooding and examined plausible impacts as further development and climate change are materialized. The number of disaster victims and the economic damage that they suffer will increase as a result of increased flooding in terms of area, frequency, depth, and/or duration.

With the support of the pilot project, under step three (CCA&M measure development), local governments have devised a set of priority measures as follows:

  • Zoning Enhancement - To avoid and alleviate climate impact, and to sequestrate carbon dioxide
  • River rehabilitation - To increase water retaining capacity (e.g., reforestation, river cleanup, dredging, and riverbank reinforcement)
  • Capacity development - To build and strengthen the ability of local government to design and implement climate actions

Water course management actions

Improving zoning ordinances aims to ease and evade flood risks by, for example, regulating development in high-risk areas. Mitigation measures are mandated when forest or agricultural land is converted to built-up types of land use (e.g. residential developments, industrial facilities, shopping malls). Watercourse management actions including riverbank re-enforcement and reforestation are proposed to reduce surface runoff and erosion as well as speed the flow of water in rivers (to reduce flooding). Depending on the geographic location (e.g., up-, mid-, or down-stream), different actions are to be taken.

Training activities are to be implemented to strengthen the capacity of local government staff to undertake these actions. This includes an assessment of training needs followed by the development of training materials. While most of these measures address mainly adaptation, some measures such as afforestation and reforestation could provide mitigation benefits as well as non-climate benefits of livelihood creation and improved health.

As part of the implementation of CCA&M measures, immediate actions were proposed according to the needs of each local government. To alleviate flood risks, it was suggested that the building codes in high-risk areas in Santa Rosa be strengthened by mandating measures such as the construction of floodwalls and the introduction of elevated flooring, and that administrative guidelines be prepared in Silang to implement runoff mitigation measures where forest and/or agricultural land is converted to built-up land use types. Watercourse management measures in the downstream basin, including Biñan and Cabuyao, were also recommended to maintain and improve the watershed protection functions (i.e., flood alleviation, water retention ability) of the ecosystem. Additionally, activities for strengthening the capacity of IWMC were included in the proposal.

In case you missed the November Edition of the Best Practice Monthly Feature, we highlighted how KAPPO, a platform developed in Chile, helps to increase the usage of bicycles in urban areas and safety navigation for citizens. Nearly 60% of the world's population lives in urban areas today. This is equivalent to 4 billion people sharing the same space. It is estimated that by 2050, this number will increase up to 70%.


E.C. Greencia Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.