Church, ‘Yolanda’ partners back ‘pro-poor’ solution to climate change

Super typhoon Yolanda survivors attend the first ever Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) Summit from Nov. 6 to 7, Cebu City. (Photo: Raymond Sebastian)

CEBU City, Nov. 10, 2015 – The Catholic Church’s humanitarian and social action arm and its program partners have affirmed their commitment to an environmental approach that values people, especially the poor, noting that solving climate and disaster risks must “begin and end with persons and communities” through community-managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR).

“The impact of climate change-induced hazards is global, and cuts across all sectors, regardless of gender, culture, economic or political position, but it must be recognized that the impact is greatest on the poor, the most at risk, and the marginalized,” participants of the CMDRR Summit declare in a Nov. 7 manifesto.

‘Cebu City Declaration’

Besides the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, the conference held in Cebu from Nov. 6 to 7 was attended by representatives of various Caritas Internationalis Member-Organizations (CIMOs), Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSACs), government agencies, and “Yolanda”-affected communities.

Given their disadvantage, CMDRR delegates stress in their “Cebu City Declaration” that a plan of action on climate and disaster risks must use community-managed disaster risk reduction as the strategy.

They also point out that climate and disaster risks should be viewed as a development issue, ensuring that adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction measures are gender-responsive, rooted in indigenous knowledge systems, and considers the most vulnerable.

Empowering survivors

“Building resilient communities is increasing individual and community capacity to survive, bounce back, and transform the systems and structures, empowering them to have increased influence in policy advocacy and actualization of plans to address the root causes of disaster risks. Further, it highlights community-managed disaster risk assessment, analysis and implementation of disaster risk reduction measures as the centerpiece approach in realizing this,” they explain.

In line with these, NASSA/Caritas Philippines and fellow development actors claim their role in building on community’s voices, knowledge, and expertise to speed up local and sustainable disaster risk reduction measures through systematic documentation, advocacy, action, and good practice.

As such, they vow to push for policies that will raise awareness and boost education and training programs on the causes, effects, and long-term forecasting of climate and disaster risks, and to link resources that will ease knowledge management and transfer, research, documentation, and capacity building.

Call for action

CMDRR delegates go on to recognize the call for urgent action that considers proper resources and processes that enable communities for resilience building, funding environmentally-sound technologies, and supporting community initiatives in the sustainable use of natural resources.

They further emphasize that climate change adaptation and resilience strategies require diversified approaches in social protection, livelihood and income generation, savings and insurance, shelter, water and sanitation, and hygiene.

“Networking at all levels is essential. Communities must engage with governments, media, and other stakeholders to work together to develop solutions. There is a critical need for joint efforts. The role of parish-based units such as the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) is likewise essential in strengthening community organizations,” they explain.

“All actors are stewards. They must be accountable and transparent in its initiatives and efforts in reducing climate and disaster risks, and the devastation it is causing on natural environments,” they add. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)