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Harvard institute says ‘moral duty’ to help island communities deal with climate change

Harvard institute says ‘moral duty’ to help island communities deal with climate change

Harvard institute says ‘moral duty’ to help island communities deal with climate change


SMALL ISLAND communities in the Asia-Pacific are at greater risk from climate change, and aiding them is a “moral duty” for larger states, according to the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI).

“Support for low-lying island communities throughout the Asia-Pacific must be a priority for the international community. We know that these communities will have to bear a terrible burden for a climate crisis they had virtually no role in creating,” HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino said in a statement.

“Larger states have both a strong moral and practical duty to support adaptation measures and think through feasible strategies to support communities where forced migration is inevitable,” he added.

HHI, a Harvard University institute, reported that the Philippines’ small islands are struggling to be resilient due to a lack of resources and support for disaster mitigation.

It was cited as a case study for Barangay Pugad Hagonoy Bulacan, which is actually an island because it lies within the river delta system that empties into Manila Bay.

HHI reported that the barangay lacks sufficient funds to implement its community-based disaster reduction and management (CBDRRM).

“Sadly, Pugad is not alone in this since the issue they face is but a mere reflection of scarce resources across the entire country. Although there is a… National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF), and the Quick Response Fund (QRF) which is a portion of the NDRRMF, such financial resources are not proportionally allocated across provinces and tend to be heavily focused on disaster response rather than preparedness and resilience,” HHI added.

HHI stated that typhoons were inevitable and that governments should invest in disaster prevention measures.

“Being hit by only one (typhoon) can bring them to a disaster trap. The government at all levels must now focus on investments that can be made before disaster strikes. These communities need financial and policy support in their CBDRRM planning. It will be good to start with assisting such communities in terms of disaster risk financing and disaster insurance education, alongside a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to DRR and gender mainstreaming in disaster management,” it said.

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“The continued onslaught of disasters and climate change impacts to Pugad diminishes the positive impact of resources brought about by the community’s partnerships with external development actors,” the report added.

It recommended the construction of disaster mitigation projects to prepare the communities for future events.

“For infrastructure, it is also proposed that the residents in Pugad must invest in stilted housing rather than spending much of their savings and external financial support they receive on regularly fixing their damaged houses due to floods and land subsidence. Stilted housing can be the most effective type of adaptation strategy for people in small island communities in the Philippines who choose to stay over relocation measures,” the report added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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