In December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean was hit by one of the strongest Tsunamis the world has ever experienced wherein it left enormous destruction to 11 countries which destroyed properties and killed thousands in a flash. That fateful day has taught the world that natural hazard events like tsunami’s can hit anytime and without remorse.

However, the lives that were lost during that day was not put in vain when 168 countries signed the Hyogo Framework for Action that pushes for Disaster Risk Reduction as a framework that will guide communities all over the world in building their resilience against natural and human induced hazards. The world has also recognized that climate change have exacerbated natural hazard events which put rich and poor communities susceptible.

With this, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction has started to advocate and urge countries to implement DRR and start building their resilience. On the other hand, also started to work on a global climate action calling world leaders to seriously work in the reduction of greenhouse emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm).

In lieu with the global actions on DRR and climate change, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) organized a forum on DRR and Climate Change supporting both UNISDR and The said event was organized on October 13 in IIRR, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

Dr. Julian Gonsalves, Senior Adviser of IIRR on his opening remarks challenged the participants to change their lifestyle as an individual commitment to contribute to the reduction of the global carbon footprint.

A film showing followed on the experiences of Latin America, Bangladesh and Africa on Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR). The stories primarily came from the experiences of Cordaid partners which are working on CMDRR. Both Cordaid and IIRR pioneered CMDRR as a global program since 2006.

A presentation on CMDRR was given by Jhun Servano, Intern of IIRR on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change. Servano asserted that CMDRR is an emerging framework and tool on development which will guide development practitioners and communities in building their resilience to respond to the impacts of climate change which is translated into hydro-meteorological hazards. A hazard assessment exercise followed to initially guide participants on how to identify and characterize climate related hazards.

Mr. Benhur Villoria, IIRR Program Specialist on Agriculture and Natural Resource Management gave a presentation on the significance of Sustainable Agriculture as a response to climate change considering the fact that both global warming and agriculture have extreme impacts on each other. He shared that current developments towards industrial agriculture brought about by the Green Revolution in the 70s only exacerbated the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs). It encouraged the extensive use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides (byproducts of fuel production) together with new sterile and monocropped hybrid plant varieties. Aside from consuming a lot of energy and its byproducts, it also led to the clearing of forestlands which diminished the capacity of the soil and vegetation as carbon sinks. Industrial agriculture also discouraged the traditional practice of seed storage and seed exchanges among farmers. It contributed a lot to the release of GHGs like carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. In return, climate change has brought about disruptions in agriculture production through extreme rainfall/flooding, droughts and frequent incidence of pest and diseases. Sustainable Agriculture is meant to reverse these trends by returning back traditional and proven agriculture practices that are diverse, environmentally friendly, socio-culturally acceptable, safe, productive and climate change resilient.  IIRR is in the forefront of promoting SA technologies primarily through the promotion of the Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG).

Maggie Rosimo, IIRR Program Specialist on Learning Community Program and Eco-DRR lead the soft launching of the “Safe School to Offset Vulnerabilities and Increase Empowerment of Children” or SOLVE Project which is a new program of IIRR that is pushing for safe school and is initially funded by Metrobank Foundation, Inc. SOLVE will be piloted in Ticao Island in Masbate, IIRR’s learning community. According to Ms. Rosimo, SOLVE aims to build the resiliency of the children against natural and health hazards as well as strengthening the capacities of teachers and parents to reinforce resilience. SOLVE Project also aims to build disaster resistant classroom and promotes environmental rehabilitation.

As part of the survivability and readiness framework of the CMDRR, Jun Servano presented the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT which is another new program of IIRR. During the presentation, Gonzalo shared that the purpose of CERT is to capacitate local communities and organizations on community led emergency response to save more lives while waiting for professional responders to come. CERT according to Gonzalo involves a wide array of skills on disaster preparedness such as earthquake management and contingency planning. It also involves skills on medical, fire suppression, light search and rescue and disaster psychology.

As a gesture of commitment, the participants of the forum were asked to list down at least 3 personal actions that will contribute in the response to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Finally, the event ended with the 350 human formation of the participants which coincides to the Global Climate Work Party organized by

Reference: Mark A. Cervantes