Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Wednesday the new composition of the Climate Change Commission (CCC)’s panel of technical experts mirrors the Philippines’ paradigm shift in its stepped-up drive to combat climate change, which will now move from merely delving on theories to actually implementing on the ground “practical and achievable” applications to help reverse the “apocalyptic course” of global warming.
To mobilize people to help save the planet from the worsening environmental crisis, the CCC will have to implement at the local level “achievable” mitigation and adaptation programs that will help “build the resilience of our communities, reverse the degradation, and protect our vital food sources,” Dominguez said.
He said the CCC’s reconstituted 16-member National Panel of Technical Experts (NTPE) will provide the practical advice urgently needed by the climate change body to be able to effectively implement these programs, and will help engage and educate local communities in adopting them.
Dominguez, who is the CCC chairperson-designate, presided over a brief meeting of the Commission where the members adopted a resolution on the new composition of the NPTE prior to the presentation of the new experts to the public.
He called for the reconstitution of the NPTE following the Philippines’ declaration of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent over the next decade as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement.
“We will achieve that commitment. To do so, we need to implement achievable programs on the ground. We need to convince our people that climate change is reversible if we all act together and begin reducing our own carbon footprint,” Dominguez said in this morning’s press briefing where he introduced the members of the reconstituted NPTE.
“For us, the fight to save the planet begins today. No red light can stop us from moving towards a greener future. We have brought together brilliant minds to ensure that our race towards our planet’s survival will be coherent, concerted and compelling,” he added.
Dominguez pointed out that the fight against climate change should no longer be focused on theories, as science has accumulated enough evidence about what is happening and what needs to be done now is “to reverse the apocalyptic course of planetary warming.”
“What is global must now be addressed at the local level. What was theoretical now demands practical applications on the ground,” he said.
Dominguez said the new composition of the NPTE “is more than merely a change of personnel,” and, more importantly, “reflects a change of paradigm in our efforts to combat the effects of climate change.”
The new set of Filipino experts are trained in science, but are also familiar with working with communities, businesses and the local government units (LGUs), and thus excel in building partnerships and linkages, Dominguez said.
“I am proud to say that we have brought together a high-caliber team of Filipino experts representing the broadest range of disciplines and backgrounds. More than that, they also represent all corners of the archipelago,” Dominguez said.
“I am confident that we have the panel that will give us the practical advice the Climate Change Commission urgently needs. We are ready to get to work. We have no time to lose. We have a planet to save,” he added.
The new members of the NPTE are the following:
· Dr. Jihan Adil, an environmental planning and engineering expert who has extensive experience coordinating the efforts of LGUs in developing comprehensive land use plans. Dr. Adil has committed to educating LGUs, especially those from Mindanao, about climate change, starting from the barangay level;
· Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, an agricultural engineer specializing in land and water management and currently the Dean of the College of Engineering of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte. He will help the CCC in maximizing the management of land and water resources for sustainable use;
· Dr. Zenaida Andrade, a chemical engineer who is both an educator and a specialist in the fields of chemical engineering, pollution control and waste management. With her background, she can explore how wastewater can be part of a circular economy;
· Dr. Wilfredo Campos, an expert in biological oceanography, coastal ecology and ecosystems, coral reef ecology and fisheries. He is advocating better management of the country’s fishery resources to address the impact of rising ocean temperatures on our dwindling fish supply;
· Dr. Gay Defiesta, who specializes in agricultural economics and environmental accounting, and served as Vice-Chancellor for academic affairs at the University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas. She advocates stronger partnerships between communities and the academe in implementing climate change-related initiatives;
· Dr. Ramon Lorenzo Luis Guinto, an expert in climate change and public health. Focused on what he termed as “planetary health,” he is now training future doctors at the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine so they can become competent in caring not just for people but also the environment. He is determined to devise ways of engaging the LGUs in efforts to address the long-term effects of climate change on public health;
· Dr. Eduardo Mangaoang, an expert in upland, lowland and coastal forest landscape restoration and conservation. He aims to replicate in other provinces his ongoing engagements in the modeling of communities in Eastern Samar for preparedness, response and recovery activities against climate-induced disasters. Dr. Mangaoang wants climate change-vulnerable communities to make climate action an integral part of their culture and way of life;
· Dr. Jimmy Masagca, an expert in fisheries and mangroves. He has done studies on how fisheries and mangrove resource management can aid in disaster risk reduction in the typhoon-prone island of Catanduanes. He has immersed himself in coastal communities vulnerable to climate change to explain to people why they need to be concerned about rising sea levels and ocean warming;
· Dr. Susan Mercado, a public health and food security expert with extensive experience at the international, national and local levels. She was a former Undersecretary at the Department of Health (DOH) and is currently Director of the Food Systems and Resiliency Program at the Hawaii Public Health Institute. She pointed out that the widespread changes in weather patterns could impact public health and spawn more diseases;
· Dr. Richard Muallil, a marine scientist and a recognized expert in coastal resource management and marine protected areas. He was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for Marine Science and Conservation for his work in educating dynamite fishers about the need to preserve the reefs, and converting them into reef defenders. Dr. Muallil will help find ways to mitigate the effects of increasing ocean acidity and rising sea levels on the country’s marine resources;
· Dr. Emma Porio, a specialist in climate and disaster resilience. She has underscored the need to translate scientific concepts into language that people will understand to achieve our goal of a whole-of-society approach in fighting climate change;
· Dr. Patricia Ann Sanchez, a specialist in disaster risk management and water resource assessment who has been working on the hydrological modeling and simulation of floods and droughts. She will help the CCC in optimizing the use of water resources;
· Engineer Merriam Santillan, a Geodetic Engineer and the Dean of the College of Engineering and Geosciences of the Caraga State University (CSU). She has been involved in numerous flood hazard mapping projects in Mindanao using remote sensing technologies. She is determined to not just contribute to our climate initiatives through her expertise but also to produce top-notch geodetic engineers in the country;
· Dr. Encarnacion Emilia Yap, a post-harvest fisheries specialist and fisheries professional who is the Dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at UP Visayas. Dr. Yap has been educating fishers about the adverse effects of climate change on their means of livelihood and has been helping them implement climate mitigation measures. Moreover, she has instituted in her college what the government plans to do nationwide–a ban on single-use plastics;
· Dr. Maria Angela Zafra, an expert in inclusive business models, sustainable tourism and gender inclusivity. She advocates getting businesses involved in sustainable practices and climate finance. She believes the challenge to address climate change does not solely rely on the government, as the private sector must play a large role in mobilizing financial resources to achieve the Philippines’ NDC; and
· Dr. Doracie Zoleta Nantes, a specialist in geography, hazards studies and extreme weather events. She believes that LGUs should be involved in the fight against climate change and that this crisis and its devastating effects should be explained to people in a language that they will understand.
Dominguez had personally interviewed these 16 experts who hail from the different provinces and regions across the country—Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon and Catanduanes in Luzon; Leyte, Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Davao, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, and Agusan Del Norte in Mindanao.
These NPTE members were drawn from a roster of 130 notable experts, and were selected because they have been doing practical work on the ground, and are thus aware of what is going on at the grassroots level, Dominguez said.