Strengthening the Philippines’ Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change

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The Philippines has made a number of strategic advances towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially MDG-7 on environmental sustainability. These include consolidating strategies for environmental management as embodied in the Environment & Natural Resources Framework, strengthening disaster risk reduction capacities by increasing disaster knowledge base through multi-hazard mapping, risk assessment and community-based early warning systems, and moving towards a holistic Disaster Risk Management (DRM).

However, a number of threats are challenging the achievement of the MDGs because of emerging climate change pressures. These include:

  1. The weak capacities of national agencies, local authorities and vulnerable communities to effectively develop coping mechanisms and strategies,
  2. A lack of tools and systems to enable the appropriate planning and implementation of climate change adaptation measures, and
  3. A general lack of information on technological adaptation and sustainable development options useful for addressing impacts of climate change at local level.


The goal of the Joint Programme was to improve the country’s capacity to plan and implement projects and to mitigate the impact of climate change, with a focus on the most disaster- prone eastern seaboard. The strategy chosen to address the issues was guided by targeted outcomes which included the following:

  1. Determine the vulnerability of critical sectors of the Philippines to climate change and strengthen the country’s adaptive capacity by enhancing the policy development, planning, programming and implementation capacities of key stakeholders, particularly the responsible national government agencies;
  2. Endeavor to contribute to the Philippines’ achievement of its MDG targets by enhancing socio-economic development through reduced vulnerabilities of key affected sectors and the target stakeholders in the more than 40 highly hazard prone provinces;
  3. Facilitate partnerships among participating local government units, primarily from the highly hazard prone provinces, particularly those on the eastern seaboard of the country, and the corresponding local higher educational institutions to anchor the future scientific and capacity-building needs of vulnerable communities;
  4. Showcase innovative best practices on climate change adaptation providing selected communities with the opportunity to develop and test coping systems which have significant potential for further design improvement and replication across the country. Climate change responsive demonstration projects established under the Joint Programme serve as templates of best practices that would inspire and encourage wider adoption.


  • Vulnerability and adaptation assessments of the 43 provinces in high-risk areas were produced through the Philippines Meteorological Bureau (PAGASA). A national framework for action was also developed to respond to climate change related health challenges.
  • Climate change was integrated broadly into the Philippine Development Plan. Environment and climate change was identified as one of the five priority areas for budgeting. A new cabinet unit was also created within Office of the President on the Integrity of the Environment and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.
  • The Joint Programme worked with partners to mainstream climate change concerns in sectoral planning. Climate change adaptation measures were set up to address agricultural adaptation options and a pilot early warning surveillance system was completed in two areas.


A key challenge of the Programme was related to the relatively high transaction costs involved in developing and implementing Joint Programmes involving multiple UN and government partners.

Way Forward

A detailed sustainability plan was developed by the Government’s partners that outline how key achievements of the Programme will be continued or scaled up. For example, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has committed to undertake further climate change adaptation trainings for planners and extension personnel from national and regional offices, establishing relationships with other governmental agencies to support the formulation of local climate change action plans and guidelines.

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