WWF, ICLEI SEAS launch Earth Hour City Challenge in the Philippines

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, in partnership with ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat (ICLEI SEAS), successfully concluded a workshop titled “Rise to the Challenge: Is Your City Leading the Way Towards Urban Sustainability?” on 27 August 2015 at Lancaster Hotel, Mandaluyong City. The workshop also served as platform to launch the Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) program in the Philippines. The launch was led by Mr. Jose Angelito Palma, President of WWF-Philippines.

According to WWF, EHCC has been created to “mobilize action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate friendly, one-planet future. The challenge invites cities to report ambitious commitments and ‘big-win’ climate actions, in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions as well as the co-benefits they provide in relation to food, water, and energy security challenges.” The program has been ongoing since 2011.

Atty. Angela Ibay, Head of the Climate and Energy Programme of WWF-Philippines, noted that EHCC’s theme for 2015 is “Bridging the Gap,” referring to the gap between the global climate commitments and the additional commitments needed to keep global warming from reaching the 2°C threshold. This also refers to exploration of funding opportunities for local climate actions. Cities from 20 countries, including the Philippines, will be participating.

According to Ms. Ria Lambino, Vice President for the Sustainable Production and Market Engagement of WWF-Philippines, the United Nations reported that most of the world’s population are already living in urban areas and more than 70% of GHG emissions from the energy sector are attributable to cities. In relation to this, Lambino cited the World Risk Report 2014 which identified the Philippines as 2nd among countries to be highly at risk as determined by the WorldRiskIndex. The report further recognized the country to have the highest urban risk and ranked 3rd highest at the national level particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.

Recognizing that local governments are at the frontline of responding to the climate change challenge in the Philippines, the workshop provided an avenue for cities to gain timely information on climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and programs. Resource speakers represented various national government agencies, including the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Energy (DOE), National Solid Waste Management Council (NSWMC), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). To bridge the gap from planning to implementation, climate financing mechanisms available for local governments were also presented by the CCC, Cities Development Initiatives for Asia (CDIA), and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC).

For his part, Mr. Ranell Dedicatoria, Regional Program Manager of ICLEI SEAS, discussed the basic concepts of conducting GHG inventory following the Global Protocol for Community-Level GHG Inventories (GPC). GPC is a joint project by ICLEI, World Resources Institute (WRI), and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. As a global reporting standard, the GPC enables cities and communities to consistently measure and report GHG emissions and develop climate action plans and low-emission urban development strategies.

Mr. Dedicatoria explained that the conduct of a GHG inventory is an initial step that can aid local governments in determining baseline emissions, which can serve as basis for designing and implementing low-carbon programs and projects aimed at reducing GHG emissions. The workshop included calculation exercises where cities used proxy data to calculate emissions for the energy sector. Cities were also given a copy of ICLEI’s GHG inventory activity data assessment sheet. This provides a detailed list of data requirements for conducting GHG inventory and can help local governments determine data availability and gaps.

Mr. Dedicatoria also facilitated a knowledge sharing exercise among the cities on their various CCA and CCM initiatives. This activity allowed them to identify and gain ideas which can be reported, should they decide to participate in the EHCC.

For EHCC, participating cities will be asked to submit climate data as well as report ambitious commitments and sustainability strategies through the ICLEI-managed platform, carbonn Climate Registry (cCR). The submissions will then be evaluated by an international jury by looking at the following key areas: energy efficiency; ambitious and strategic actions; integrating coherent strategies for sustainability; innovative; and significant leadership and credibility.

The city that has submitted the most holistic and ambitious plan will be proclaimed as the Global Earth Hour Capital on April 2016. A national Earth Hour Capital will also be selected by each participating country. Interested cities can submit their expression of interest to WWF-Philippines until 15 September 2015. The cities that will be joining EHCC will then be further capacitated through technical webinars and workshops to be supported by WWF-Philippines and ICLEI-SEAS. Atty. Ibay reiterated that, “EHCC is not about having the most high-tech plans, but about commitment and innovative thinking that focuses on sustainable big win solutions to the benefit of both people and the planet.” On the other hand, Ms. Lambino reiterated that the workshop aimed to challenge local governments to lead climate-resilient and low-carbon cities by inviting them to participate in the EHCC.

A total of 14 cities attended the event. These include: Quezon City, Taguig City, Paranaque City, Pasig City, Makati City, Malabon City, Santa Rosa, Batangas City, Baguio City, Naga City, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, and Zamboanga City.

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WWF and ICLEI joined by resource speakers and representatives from participating local government units, national government agencies, and non-government organizations at the EHCC launch.