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Climate Change Forum in Bohol Philippines
« on: February 16, 2011, 06:08:21 PM »
The Regional Forum on Climate Change hosted by the Bohol Island State University (BISU) came at the most opportune time for the Boholano academe.

The forum featured presentations on Satellite Monitoring Climate Change; Biofuel, Stocks and Opinions; Managing the Forest to Increase Productivity; and Bionergy and Biochar Production by renowned scientists. The Balik Scientist Program brought back to Bohol Dr. Terry I. Sarigumba, a retired forest soils scientist and a Boholano, who brought along with him Dr. Josefino E. Comiso, Senior Research Scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
   
Governor Edgar Chatto (1st from right) joins the scientists in the cause to mitigate climate change the Balik Scientist Program brought back to Bohol Dr. Terry Sarigumba, a Boholano retired forest soils scientist, who brought along with him Dr. Josefino Comiso - a senior research scientist at the national Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center, and Dr. Lino Blanche - a national program leader with the US Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Comiso, an expert on Hydrospheric and Biospheric Science, explains that the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing unusual weather patterns and that by suppressing the increase of carbon dioxide, surface temperature can be stabilized. He adds that this can be achieved through reduction or termination of use of fossil fuels, use of clean alternative energy source, conservation, development of new designs for green buildings and houses, reforestation, and even geo-engineering or international large scale manipulation of the global environment.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations declared that the developing world already contends with chronic food problems. Changes in climactic patterns pose significant impacts on agriculture and food production. Climate change presents yet more challenges in cereal production, and decrease of agricultural Gross Domestic Product.
        
The Asian Development Bank also emphasized that decrease in soil moisture in dry areas may accelerate forest loss while increase in rainfall also increases threats of soil erosion and flood occurrences.

According to Department of Agriculture senior technical adviser Dr. Esteban C. Godilano, the Philippines is one of the world's most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change. About 43 percent or 13 million hectares of the country's agricultural land are likely to be affected by climate change-induced drought. Meanwhile, 20 percent or 5.53 million hectares will be affected by floods and 11 percent or 3.4 million hectares will be affected by landslides.

Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, who was recently on a lecture with other local executives on the Bohol experience in leading local economic development amidst climate change at an event sponsored by the Local Government Academy, described the forum as relevant and timely in light of recent continuous rains and flooding that hit the province.

In addition, its focus on the impacts of climate change on forestry and agriculture proves useful as these are two assets the province is richly endowed with, the governor stated.

With Bohol most affected by sea level rise due to changes in ocean circulation patterns brought about by climate change, the governor feels it is of utmost importance that Bohol has its own strong advocacy on climate change mitigation. It is imperative to understand climate change and adapt small measures to prepare for and to mitigate its ill effects. The governor, whose banner programs include strategies on food sufficiency and environment, stressed that planning and development strategies must then include the aspect of climate change.

Gov. Chatto's teamwork with BISU President Dr. Elpidio T. Magante is further strengthened with the establishment of the Regional Center for Information and Research on Climate Change at the Biodiversity Complex in BISU Bilar, under the directorate of Prof. Jose Travero. The university-based Research Center is co-managed by the Provincial Government of Bohol.

The governor believes that the academic sector is in the best position to understand, communicate, and relate to the people to understand the repercussions of climate change. He has even sent communication to the Climate Change Academy of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) regarding the research center.

Early on, the governor issued an Executive Order on Disaster and Risk Management and also directed the review of the Bohol Environment Code, of which he was author. The review, which is ongoing, shall include a sector on disaster management and climate change.

Mitigation of climate change requires multi-lateral, multi-sectoral cooperation to succeed in measures such as holding of climate change summits, social mobilization and advocacy, information education campaigns, development of disaster-risk management strategies and enhancement of disaster-preparedness, as well as legislation and policy support, as counterparts to global and national policies. No amount of measures against climate change will be successful in the absence of genuine cooperation between the government, the business sector, and the civil society, the governor reminds.

The output of the three-day regional forum on climate change is a concept paper and project proposal on measures to mitigate climate change especially in the areas of forestry and agricultural resources. (Leah/EDCom)

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