Local and National Government Agencies and Regional Scientists Come Together for First CORDEX Stakeholder Workshop

11-12 July 2019– As part of the Manila Observatory’s mission, science-based planning is essential particularly in the Philippines, one of the hardest hit countries by climate change and extremes, such as extreme rainfall, drought and tropical cyclones, with unevenly distributed impacts among vulnerable groups.

In line with its advocacy, the Manila Observatory hosted the first Department of Science and Technology Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (DOST-CORDEX) Stakeholder Workshop on Climate Information for Local Adaptation in the Philippines. This event is in partnership with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), with support from the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

This is also part of the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment’s (CORDEX) global vision, the program “Analyzing CORDEX-SEA Regional Climate Simulations for Improved Climate Information over the Philippines: SST Influence, Variability and Extreme, Tropical Cyclone Activity” examines climate extreme events over key areas within Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, through active engagement and collaboration with stakeholders/end-user groups. Key vulnerable areas in the region will be identified (e.g. megacities, coastal/low-lying urban, areas of frequent flooding or drought) based on their exposure and vulnerability to climate extremes and will be further refined through consultation with stakeholders/end-user groups.

The workshop held at Eastwood Richmonde Hotel aimed to (1) present a situation analysis of the current consolidation, use, and uptake of climate information across different sectors, (2) apply the concepts of the science of climate change and preliminary DOST-CORDEX results to local adaptation activities, and (3) enhance the interactions among international and local scientists and stakeholders for further knowledge-sharing. In this vein, the Observatory and PAGASA invited the SEACLID/CORDEX-SEA regional scientists, national government agencies, and local government representatives from four (4) areas to share their local experiences and best practices in multi-sectoral use of climate information for adaptation.

The first day of the workshop consisted of three panel sessions: climate information use in seven (7) national government agencies, four (4) local governments, and four (4) SEACLID/CORDEX-Southeast Asia countries, including the Philippines. The second day focused on the three (3) DOST-CORDEX projects, with each session having an activity to engage stakeholders and introduce concepts.

The national government was represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Climate Change Commission, the Department of Agriculture (represented by Regional Office 5), the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health, National Water Resources Board, and the National Economic Development Authority. Four local government units namely the Municipalities of Tiwi in Albay, Tubigon in Bohol, and the Cities of Tuguegarao in Cagayan and Pasig in Metro Manila also shared their use of climate information.

Participants of the workshop discuss their use of climate information with regional and local experts

Lastly, different representatives from the SEACLID/CORDEX-SEA program presented in the third panel session for the first day, mainly on how climate data was used in their home countries.

The second day of the workshop aimed to discuss with and engage the participants in activities related to the three projects under DOST-CORDEX. The first session focused on explaining the basic concepts of climate science and climate change, in order to provide a foundation for the participants for understanding the next sessions, as well as to clear up any misinformation or misconceptions about climate change. The presentation also explained the logic and inputs for climate modeling, which included sea-surface temperature as model input.

Dr. Julie Dado provides a background on climate modeling

The next session focused on tropical cyclone (TC) projection and its uses in local planning, using historical data and initial results from the TC project group. While there were discussions on windspeed and rainfall as tropical cyclone criteria, it was clarified that the latter is also an essential variable in considering Tropical Cyclone intensity.

The last session for the day introduced sector-specific climate extreme indices. The sector-groups, which consisted of participants from a mix of LGUs, were (1) disaster risk reduction and management, (2) agriculture, (3) coastal/fluvial, (4) water, and (5) health. Regardless, the local participants remained highly participative, with each participant contributing insights on their own experiences in their areas in order to develop a problem tree map for their sector, using baseline and near-, mid-, or far-future data.

After the workshop, the Manila Observatory and PAGASA received significant feedback and insights from all international, national, and local participants, from their direct outputs to discussion process, all of which can improve the final results of the DOST-CORDEX program, as well as better inform future endeavors and open new opportunities for collaboration.