ASEAN member countries convene to talk about three important themes: urban resilience to climate change, disaster risk reduction, and attainment of green economy. More than 150 participants coming from the countries of Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Philippines as well as Japan, India, and Bangladesh gathered in Laoag City on December 5, 2017 for the Forum on Urban Resilience to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Strategies.

The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) organized this week-long activity in partnership with the National Organizing Committee (NOC) Office of the President. This event is consistent with the celebration of the ASEAN’s 50th Founding Anniversary wherein Philippines is the ASEAN Chair for 2017.

“With the high vulnerability of Southeast Asian cities to the effects of climate change resulting to higher frequencies of tropical storms, unprecedented flooding, drought, heat waves, and sea level rise, this activity serves as an important reminder to all of us that urban resiliency is an urgent agenda that we have to work with” said Atty. Jonas R. Leones, the Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, who represented Sec. Roy A. Cimatu of the DENR.

In his Welcome Remarks, ERDB Director Dr. Henry A. Adornado mentioned that climate change is a reality that we have to cope with. Hence, the Forum is a timely response to the pressing need for different countries to discuss adaptation strategies that can help countries to become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Dr. Simplicia A. PAsicolan of the ERDB who is also the Overall Coordinator for this event, emphasized that “In the face of climate change, the pursuit of urban resilience and green growth in major cities set a new norm to sustainable development and survival of more than half of the world’s population living in the metropolis today. This is a timely response as it is projected that by 2050, 66% of the global population will be residing in urban areas.”

“All of us who are here today should take urban resiliency seriously. We need to holistically discuss the issues and challenges that are affecting our urban vulnerability.” stressed Usec. Leones in his keynote speech.

The event featured distinguished plenary speakers, oral and posters presenters who all share very valuable information, experiences, and practices on different strategies to achieve urban resiliency and green economy. An exhibit featuring four important themes: Tools and Methodologies for Climate Change Impacts Assessments, Urban Resilience and Green Growth Strategies, Institutional Structures, Policies and Programs, and Management Strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction was also launched during the opening of the event. This ceremony was led by Ambassador Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, Honorable Imee Marcos, Usec. Leones, and Dr. Adornado.

During the press conference, Dir. Adornado said that the event will conclude with a resolution giving the commitment of all participants from ASEAN member states in the continuous collaboration and information sharing in the conduct of studies related to the above topic. This hopes to ensure that there will be concrete future plans of actions that will be conducted after the forum to help the countries attain urban resiliency.