Philippines: Rising sea level to affect 13.6M Filipinos in coastal areas

Mario Casayuran Manila Bulletin 1 Jun 14;

At least 13.6 million Filipinos living in the coastal areas will have to relocate to higher, safer places when the level of the sea rises by the year 2050.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate climate change committee, issued this warning as she called on the government to address the vulnerability of Philippine communities to the negative effects of climate change, including rising sea levels.

“The celebration of World Environment Day is not only about the environment per se. Climate change, disasters and extreme weather events are the other issues that are linked to the environment,” she said.

Legarda cited a 2012 Asian Development Bank (ADB) study ‘’Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific’’ which stated that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and it is ranked fifth in terms of individuals affected by sea level rise.

“The message of this year’s World Environment Day focuses on the risks posed by rising sea level and the vulnerability of coastal communities and small island nations. Several studies have already noted the high vulnerability of coastal communities in the Philippines to sea level rise. This is the challenge that we must address because according to a study by the ADB, sea level rise will affect at least 13.6 million Filipinos who will have to relocate to higher, safer places,” Legarda said.

Legarda said a study by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Climate Change Program showed that a total of 167,290 hectares of seashore land in 171 coastal towns under 10 provinces would go under water if the sea level rises by one meter.

The 10 provinces are Cagayan, Palawan, Iloilo, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Bohol, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

Legarda said that while there is little the country could do to prevent sea level rise, it could reduce the risks and act ahead of time to protect the communities that will be most affected.