STARTING this quarter, the research and scientific advocacy that my research scientists and I have done will be shared using this amazing platform. This will help to inspire more people to make a difference regardless of their status and background.

The project

Deemed to be the "hotspot" and the country's last ecological frontier, the Calamianes group (Busuanga, Coron and Culion islands) of Palawan is reliant on farming and fishery resources for livelihoods and food security. Climate change and variability, including climate hazards (e.g., tropical cyclones, flooding, sea-level rise and drought), impact the farming and fishery systems and the vulnerability of dependent communities. This project aims to investigate the worst-case scenarios that happened to these islands, which include biophysical and socioeconomic stresses as well as psychological trauma and secular activities. It also contributes to improving community adaptation schemes by characterizing, assessing and predicting the future of food resources using the simplest and uncomplicated approach — the track-risk-impact-policy (TRIP) to resiliency framework. Focusing on adaptation elucidations and strategies for enhancing climate resilience at the local level contributes to capacity development and local empowerment. Integration of natural, social and economic studies identifies a range of options for management and policy reform. These alternatives are delivered as briefing materials to managers and decision-makers in communities and society at large in the islands. The strong partnership with the local government units and other stakeholders (community of farmers, fisherfolk, Indigenous people, NGOs, academe, church, women, youth and private sector), provides strong scientific and political support for the development of effective science-based governance approaches, which are needed to position vulnerable communities for an improved future.

Change created

Under the project, "Climate-smart Palawan: Creating Climate Resilience in Calamianes Group of Islands," the TRIP to resiliency and sustainability framework was used to create a momentum of change not only for the islands of Calamianes but also on the other islands in Palawan. This TRIP framework was used both in the research and capacity building. This provides solutions that reduce the risks and prevent potential damage and losses in the silands. The outcomes are as follows: 1) land-zoning and new building codes have been implemented to reduce the vulnerability of the communities; 2) adjustment of the agricultural calendar per island has been executed to address the issue of food security and water sufficiency; 3) climate-proofing or climate-smart approaches for post-production management practices have been integrated into the planning and have been also taught to the communities of farmers, fishermen and Indigenous people; 4) communities have been trained to apply sustainable natural resource management in order to increase the resilience of food production; 5) renewable energy sources in the off-grid island have been identified; 6) climate-smart rainwater harvesting systems have been recommended to address the issue of water security, especially in the most remote areas; 7) gender equality initiatives and considerations, the use of traditional knowledge and practices on agro-biodiversity, sustainable land management (SLM) and sustainable forest management (SFM) have been strengthened; and 8) gender-responsive measures, the role of women in the development and conservation processes have been enhanced.

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How resilience was built

One specific climate-related issue was a storm surge event brought by Super Typhoon "Haiyan" ("Yolanda"), which resulted in billions of pesos worth of damage and losses. More than 24,000 people in the Calamianes islands (Busuanga-Coron-Culion) were affected. People were warned, but they did not leave the place. Some thought that it was a normal tropical cyclone. And others said that they did not understand the terminologies that were used. One of the findings of our research was that there is a need to communicate "climate science and policy" to the stakeholders and their communities. There's a need to train and capacitate all the stakeholders to achieve a climate-smart and disaster-resilient Palawan. And that's the essence of the model — the "TRIP to resiliency and sustainability framework" — from research to assessment to collaboration to implementation: 1) the research was conducted on the islands; 2) the results were presented to the decision-makers, administrators and officials for validation; 3) collaboration with the different stakeholders was established; 4) two batches of scientific capacity development and training were done; 5) science-based policies and action plans were formulated; 6) climate change adaptation programs and projects were developed and implemented; 7) climate-smart approaches were established using the "multi-stakeholder" approach; 8) a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was jointly established; 9) linkages with the development partners were strengthened; and 10) resource mobilization was also introduced.

Glenn S. Banaguas Sci. Dpl. is a UN Sasakawa laureate for Disaster Risk Reduction. He is a The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) laureate, NAST Outstanding Young Scientist of the Philippines, US-Asean science and technology fellow; EU-Asia climate diplomat, Asean science, Royal Society-The World Academy of Sciences awardee; and Asia Leaders awardee for sustainability leadership.