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Greater partnerships for a climate-resilient Asia-Pacific Highlights from APAN Forum - Day 1 - 17 October 2018, Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines, 17 October 2018 – A week after the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the 6th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum kicked off with an inaugural session filled with optimistic and passionate calls to accelerate climate adaptation actions in the Asia and Pacific region.

More than 1,000 climate adaptation practitioners – scientists and representatives from governments and civil society organizations – have gathered at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila to tackle what needs to be done to continue to enable resilience for all, echoing the theme for this year’s forum: “Enabling Resilience for All: Avoiding the Worst Impacts.”

More than 1000 delegates from 60 countries - the largest event of its kind in the region

Opening the 2018 APAN Forum, Philippines Climate Change Commission Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman underlined the need to foster interactions and share knowledge on climate resilience from across the Asia and the Pacific region.

The world order with its entrenched economic system is fossil fuel-dependent and its culture of profit and waste cannot be transformed fast enough. Even as we work together to avoid, we must work to withstand what cannot be avoided. This is the spirit of our gathering today.”

Emmanuel M. De Guzman, Secretary, Climate Change Commission, Philippines.

Republic of Palau’s Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang emphasized the optimism present at the forum to build sustainable and resilient nations, including small island developing states. He highlighted that impacts of climate change will be severe, and that the Forum is a venue where countries learn from each other’s experiences of adaptation actions.

The effects of climate change will get more severe in time. However, there is resilience in sharing the adversity we face, learning from the experience of others and bringing home with us the lessons learned to make this APAN Forum so important.”

Elbuchel Sadang, Minister of Finance, Republic of Palau

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As global warming increases, there is concern that the risks from disasters increase dramatically. It is imperative to center all our efforts to make the region more resilient to climate change.”

Yasuo Takahashi, Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, Japan

ADB’s Vice-President for Knowledge Management Bambang Susantono said ADB has invested around US$4 billion in adaptation over the last five years to build resilience in urban water, transport and agriculture sector in the region.

In the changing climate and environment, we need a holistic perspective. A holistic and integrative approach is a must - to strengthen the resilience of our human and social systems, ecological systems, critical infrastructure, and financial system.”

Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management, ADB

The recent IPCC report not only highlights the possibility and feasibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, but also the need for transformative transition in many aspects of socio-economic activities. This forum is taking place at a very special time and at a cusp of transition in climate action.”

Youssef Nassef, Adaptation Director, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

We are holding this forum now with the backdrop of the recently-released IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees. Today, more than ever, we need to cooperate in responding to these very important issues.”

Dechen Tsering, Regional Director, UN Environment Asia and the Pacific Office

Alex Rendell, Media Celebrity and Founder, Environmental Education Center, Thailand and Dina Farooq Malik, Co-founder, SEPLAA Young Leaders Club, International Author, Pakistan

Shining a light on the role and the perspective of youth in driving forward climate change adaptation, the intergenerational panel was composed of digital influencers and young adaptation champions. They spoke about how we could engage and empower the younger generations to take part in the movement for climate change adaptation.

What inspires me is my responsibility to take actions and do what I can to come up with solutions to address the oceans’ problems since my generation and the next generations will be inheriting these problems.”

18-year-old Miel Sequiera-Holm, Chairlady, Heirs to Our Oceans, Palau

It’s important for us to remember not to underestimate the power that we have. It’s not just the leaders, it’s not just the scientists who should work. Every single one of us in the planet – we’re talking about the 1.5°C issue right now. It’s really something that has to be solved by every single person.”

Antoinette Taus, Founder, CORA and UN Advocate for Life Below Water (SDG 14), Philippines

Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum 2018 - Intermission song from Filipina celebrity Antoinette Taus and Thai celebrity Alex Rendell: "One Day"

Stream updates

Resilience of human and social systems

Resilience of human and social systems: Sessions showcased the positive influence of social protection programs, which have the capacity to help the vulnerable and poor to manage risks and absorb climate shocks, without suffering major setbacks in their ability to meet their basic needs. Takeaway messages from the discussions were that resilience is better supported when social protection comprehensively covers various sectors, such as employment, livelihood, institution, or skills development. In order to integrate climate change adaptation into the system, targeting of beneficiaries must utilize the best available risk-information. Increasng public awareness, and implementation of projects driven by broad stakeholder demand, can significantly contribute to building community resilience. Cascading risks, challenges and solutions were also considered. With such `slow onset events', there is a need to build climate information services and find ways to upgrade and improve them to benefit the most vulnerable sectors, such as our farmers, fishermen and vulnerable groups.

Let us put children and the vulnerable at the center of climate action and help sectors on climate risk management.”

Seonmi Choi, UNICEF (Session: Understanding the Cascading Risks of Climate Change)

It is not enough to just say adaptation or mitigation; the main yardstick is whether this translates into development. We need to bake climate policies into development policies and make sure that we put money to who needs it the most.”

Red Constantino, iCSC (Session: Understanding the Cascading Risks of Climate Change)

Resilience of natural ecosystems

Resilience of natural ecosystems: Several key recommendations arose from the animated discussion from sessions under this stream. Resilience-building at the local level needs to be clearly defined and translated from boarder national-level policy. It should be not only people-centric but people-driven; actions need to be undertaken which are planned closely with local communities. Data availability and evidence on which to base policy-making is an ongoing issue. Climate adaptation needs and potential solutions must draw on solid data, to strengthen policy-making.

Resilience of industry and the built environment

Resilience of industry and the built environment: Sessions demonstrated how climate-smart cities plan ahead; they innovate technologies – from forecasting to responding to disasters – as an approach to climate adaptation and mitigation. Speakers highlighted that while we can plan for the future, it is important to take into consideration the uncertainties and the possibilities of failure and learn from it. In the session `Strengthening resilience of urban communities`, participants underlined that to achieve transformational adaptation, institutional recognition for community-led initiatives is needed. Taking a bottom-up approach is necessary to move away from seeing vulnerable communities as beneficiaries, and work with them as agents and drivers of change. Sessions advocated for the integration of databases, knowledge and best practices, through promotion of regional partnerships - which could better facilitate adaptation and bankable projects. The AP-PLAT (Asia-Pacific Adaptation Information Platform) was highlighted, particularly because it showcases opportunities to share learning, strengthen regional partnerships, mobilize resources, and translate the information into action.

Resilience requires integrated, multi-dimensional approaches, integrated thinking, working at different scales and with different partners.”

Shantanu Mitra, UK Department for International Development (Session: Strengthening Resilience of Urban Communities)

Resilience of island communities

Resilence of island communities: The morning session dealt with how indigenous knowledge and science could work hand in hand in addressing the impacts of erosion and increasing temperature while the afternoon session talked about the issues island communities face when mobilizing resources and securing funding for climate adaptation actions. Both sessions revealed how communication is critical in bridging the gap between and among sectors of the societies in island communities. Effective communication between the researchers and indigenous communities could help science supplement traditional knowledge in building community resilience. At the same time, proper communication, articulation and information dissemination could accelerate how island communities access and utilize resources and funding for the different climate adaptation and mitigation actions they have.

Session highlights

The role of science in managing erosion and the impacts of increasing temperature
The Role of Science in Managing Erosion and the Impacts of Increasing Temperature: Sharon Patris, Coral Reef Research Foundation, Palau and Kirisimasi Seumanutafa, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa

This session highlighted the integration of science and traditional knowledge in managing erosion and the impacts of increasing temperature through the experience of people in Palau, Australia and Samoa. Indigenous knowledge has always been used as guidance in making decisions for everyday lives and how to adapt to the changes of the environment through intuition and tradition. It informs planning, monitoring, and other planning aspects of the community. Meanwhile, science provides data to make more informed decisions. Using scientific visuals like graphs, maps and charts, science can be communicated to the indigenous communities better and more efficiently. The panelists have emphasized that science must harness the potential of multi-sectoral and cross-discipline studies and break down the silo (mentality). The panelists also highlighted the importance of integrating the knowledge of the communities and engaging people in the sciences, especially in studying climate adaptation. Together, traditional knowledge and science could help strengthen community resilience through multi-sectoral collaboration.

Science and traditional knowledge not only can work together, but together they work better to build community resilience.”

Florence Kuali-Iautu, Communication Officer, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Dept. (Session: The role of science in managing erosion and the impacts of increasing temperature)

Plenary: Local Governments at the Forefront

Climate action at the local level is context-based. Each locality faces a different set of hazards, has different levels of vulnerabilities, as well as depth of knowledge and comprehension about climate change and adaptation. Among the challenges that climate adaptation practitioners face when localizing climate actions are streamlining adaptation programs, including the works of public and private sector, and raising awareness and building the understanding of communities on what climate change is and how important adaptation measures are.

Panelists of this session emphasized the importance of educating and empowering people at the grassroots level, and fostering collaboration and partnership between and among national and local government organizations, CSOs, NGOs and the academe. Local adaptation actions should be participatory and must be implemented across all sectors of the society.

Impacts of climate change can be mitigated through proper disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and innovation. So let us not worry about the cost of disaster risk reduction and climate resiliency programs but let us be concerned on protecting and uplifting the lives of our people.”

Mayor Ronaldo Golez, Dumangas City, Iloilo Province, Phillipines (Plenary: Plenary: Local Governments at the Forefront)

Innovative Technologies to Enhance Ecosystem Resilience
Innovative technologies to advance ecosystem resilience: Alex Rendell - EEC, Vivekdhar Sharma - UNDP Nepal, Peter King - IGES, Joanna Sustento - Greenpeace, Imelda Bacudo - ASEAN, Goh Hui Weng - Universiti Sains Malaysia, Jaruwan Enright - MAP

This parallel session tackled traditional and modern technologies and practices to safeguard society. Speakers agreed that nature-based solutions can offer flexible solutions and new technologies to be deployed. Public-private sector partnerships can catalyze action in terms of further investment for resilience. Technologies which exist need to be adapted to the local context. Learning by doing and seeing can effectively help share innovative technologies. South-South exchange of knowledge can facilitate countries and communities to apply learnings from each other.

Fighting climate change may look like a David and Goliath battle, but if you come from a place where you have been impacted every day, it is hard to find an excuse to give up.”

Joanna Sustento, Eastern Visayas area coordinator, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines (Session: Innovative Technologies to Enhance Ecosystem Resilience)

In summary

The first day of the APAN Forum 2018 drew attention to the IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, as the jumping-off point for insightful and thought-provoking discussions. Amongst the crucial takeaways was how valuable the local, traditional and indigenous knowledge from communities is, in supporting scientific information, to strengthen localized and context-based actions for climate adaptation. This is especially true for island communities.

Participants agreed that informed decisions from planning to responding to the impacts of climate change should always be predicated upon science and supported by technological innovations – through the help of apps, state-of-the-art forecasting equipment, collaborative and well-maintained databases and advanced algorithms. Local governments stand at the forefront of building resilience, but climate action is not just the government’s job, it`s everyone’s responsibility.

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