DAVAO CITY, Philippines – In a bid to make BIMP-EAGA and its people more adaptable to climate change, the sub-region's environment cluster adopted the proposal of the Philippines to implement a USD 1.2 million project that will build the resilience of local communities and enhance disaster preparedness.

Entitled "Building Local Community Resilience in BIMP-EAGA for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Disaster Preparedness," the project proposal was presented by the Philippines during the 3rd BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting held in May in Sandakan, Malaysia.

"The proposal's main thrust is to lessen the impact of climate change, with the prime goal of preventing environmental disasters within the region," said Janet Lopoz, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

She said that environmental disasters can be prevented by implementing projects that strengthen disaster risk management and develop efficient response mechanisms in addressing environmental issues within BIMP-EAGA.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, a key strategy to accelerate social and economic development of less developed areas in participating countries.

The Philippine representatives composed of officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and MinDA led the presentation of the proposal to the sub-region's environment cluster.

An EAGA-wide policy on climate change adaptation and mitigation will be formulated based on key outputs of the proposal, including climate change-proofing of infrastructures, resulting in local communities that are more resilient to environmental disasters. The policy will also push for the sustainable management, protection, and utilization of the region's natural resources.

Lopoz stated that within BIMP-EAGA, there is the strong need to address issues among the river basins of each member country, where the rivers flow from water sources to estuaries that lead towards the main bodies of water that surround the sub-region.

"Water is a shared resource among all EAGA countries, and our ecosystems are in a way interconnected with each other," said Lopoz.

The project, which will be implemented in a span of three years also incorporates capacity building on humanitarian assistance and disaster response leading to the development of disaster preparedness action plans at the community level.

It also aims to strengthen Customs-Immigration-Quarantine-Security (CIQS) mechanisms for disaster response, and establish resource centers for information sharing on climate change and disaster risk reduction within the four countries of the sub-region.

Lopoz added that the budget will be spread across 11 critical watersheds and river basins and seven coastal areas in the sub-region.

Located within the Coral Triangle, BIMP-EAGA is part of the global epicentre of marine species diversity that is considered as the "Amazon of the seas."

The triangle is home to a combined population of over 350 million people and is recognized as a global priority for conservation.

Due to its geographic location, the region is considerably sensitive to the effects of climate change and is vulnerable to possible natural and environmental disasters.

"This proposal consolidates all efforts from across the sub-region, and prioritizes programs and projects that will lessen the impact of climate change while ensuring environmental integrity in the area," said Lopoz.

The proposal's final draft is expected to be endorsed by this month to the senior officials of BIMP-EAGA for approval and eventual implementation.
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