Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay is proposing taking a holistic approach so people can “survive the worst outcomes of a changing climate.”
The method, according to the mayor, means the government engages the private sector, community leaders, non-government organizations, the academe, the media, and other volunteer groups to strengthen the resilience of communities and society as a whole.
“I believe that in order to effectively combat the impacts of climate change, we must take a whole-of-society approach. This means working together across various sectors and levels of government to find innovative solutions that will benefit our communities and protect our environment for generations to come,” Binay said in a virtual message during the Adapt Asia 2022 held in Makati on Thursday.
Adapt Asia 2022, organized by data and environmental intelligence firm Komunidad, is a two-day forum that brings together leaders and practitioners from across Asia to explore the actions to take in advancing climate adaptation and resilience within their localities through innovative solutions.
Binay said climate change is one of the greatest challenges the world is facing. She added rising global temperatures are leading to more intense natural disasters and changing weather patterns, which in turn impact human societies and ecosystems around the world.
“Climate change is no longer just a distant threat. It is upon us. It is already affecting our planet, causing rising temperatures and extreme weather events that have made it more difficult for us to live and work safely,” she said.
“We need to act with utmost urgency to address its multiple challenges on all fronts, if we are to leave behind a world that is not just livable, but highly sustainable and nurturing for future generations. Through our forward-thinking initiatives, we aim to build a more sustainable city that is better equipped to withstand these situations.”
Makati is among the many cities around the world that have been greatly affected by climate change.
Citing historical data in their Local Climate Change Action Plan, Binay said extreme heating and rainfall have been observed in the city for the last 30 years.
“Our disaster team has projected a significant rise in the number of hot days with maximum temperature exceeding 35 degrees Celsius during summer. Greenhouse gas emissions are also expected to continue rising, especially with the continuous infrastructure developments in the city. We also expect more dry days and more frequent heavy daily rainfall in the coming years,” she said.
As the financial capital of the Philippines, the local government of Makati is determined to take bolder steps to become more resilient against these changes.
“Since 2017, our city has been implementing programs and policies to build resilience and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We have been upgrading our infrastructures and investing in disaster equipment to ensure that our city can survive the worst outcomes of a changing climate,” said Binay.
“With the assistance of partner agencies, we have established an early warning system by putting up seven automated weather stations in strategic areas, seven water level sensors, 17 automatic rain gauges, and 27 earthquake recording instruments,” she added.
The city government also has closed-circuit television cameras connected to the Makati Command Control and Communication Center or C3 to monitor flood-prone areas during heavy downpours.
Residents and workers can use the Makatizen App’s “SOS Send Help” function during emergency situations. They can also use the app to report community concerns such as floods and waste management issues through the “How Can We Help” button.
“We make sure that our first responders are well-trained so that we have a capable workforce that is ready at a moment’s notice. We have flood spotters in barangays who report flood situations in their areas to the Makati C3,” the city chief executive said.
“We are also active on social media and post localized weather forecast and advisories to help the public prepare and evacuate before a disaster hits the city,” she added.
In 2018, Makati started distributing emergency go bags and hats to students and residents in high-risk areas to promote disaster preparedness.
“These initiatives, as well as the integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk resilience, are included in our Local Climate Change Action Plan and Comprehensive Land Use Plan. These plans are essential in helping us respond more effectively to natural disasters and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said Binay.
The mayor also said her administration is committed to preserve and protect the environment through the strict implementation of ordinances, such as the Zoning Ordinance, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Ordinance, Plastic Ban in Establishments, Anti-Smoking Ordinance, Solid Waste Management Code, and the Ordinance on Regulation of Groundwater Extraction.
In 2019, the city launched the GHG Biggest Loser Challenge to recognize the efforts of three-star hotels in reducing their carbon footprint through green initiatives.
“Next year, we will bring this program to our 33 barangays to generate support and further reduce GHG emissions at the grassroots level,” said Binay.
She also said the city’s Department of Environmental Services has been relentless in conducting webinars to increase public awareness about climate change.
“At present, we continue to conduct waterways cleanup, tree planting activities, and daily collection and segregation of garbage through our materials recovery facility. We are also planning to promote the use of alternative and renewable energy sources,” she said.
By 2025, according to Binay, they expect a significant decrease in GHG emission levels through the city’s electric buses and the Makati Subway.
The city government made a partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency and Philippine InfraDev Holdings Incorporated to construct a smart bus system and the country’s first intracity subway, respectively.
Aside from reducing GHG emissions, both projects are expected to improve the city’s air quality.
“Soon, public schools and city government offices will have solar panels to reduce power consumption. By switching to renewable energy, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which have a major impact on both the environment and human health,” said Binay.
The city government urged the people to adopt environment-friendly practices in their everyday lives, such as using public transport or bicycles instead of driving, recycling as much waste as possible, and buying local produce.
“These actions may seem small on their own, but if we all do them together, they can have a real impact. I urge everyone to join me in taking action now and doing their part to reduce the impacts of climate change,” said Binay.