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DOST eyes PH to be the Gold Standard in disaster and climate information services

Gold Standard

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) hosted a side event during the 28th Conference of Parties (COP) held on 01 December 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and shared how Filipinos, often known as victims of disasters, can become victors through numerous science and technology (S&T) interventions.

With the title “From Victims to Victors: Accelerating Data Governance for Climate Action in the Philippines,” the DOST shared on the global stage the practical use and applications of two of the most recognized multi-sectoral collaboration works led by the country’s science department: the Impact-Based Forecasting and Early Warning System and GeoRiskPhilippines Initiative.

“Disaster is a wicked problem. By this, it means that disasters have complex interdependencies so that the root of the problem defies clear-cut definitions. The associated risks cascade and compound unpredictably, and therefore there is no single solution to address the problem. My dream today as Secretary of DOST is that the Philippines will be the Gold Standard in Disaster and Climate Information Services. And I hope to share our learnings with the rest of the world,” said DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr.

Sec. Solidum shared that the inherent complexity of disasters necessitates a comprehensive approach involving both the government and society, prompting the Philippines to implement a whole-of-government strategy for building and maintaining a resilient information system. This initiative aims to bolster the country’s Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction and Management policies and programs, the Secretary explained.

“Disaster is and will remain an intractable problem. But it is and will be a preventable problem if we have the right information at the right time to craft our strategies,” Sec. Solidum said.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change R&D agenda

For Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change R&D agenda, the DOST identified eight Key Result Areas, reflecting the Priorities for Action of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), and identified six Dimensions of Resilience, reflecting the concerns in the SDG or Sustainable Development Goals.

Through the Agenda, the DOST encourages prospective research partners to contribute to the global agenda on climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development.

“One emerging cross-cutting priority is digital transformation. With the frequent experiences of the Philippines to disasters and the imminent threats of climate change, there is a need for robust scientific data that allows us to prevent, adapt, and mitigate. Through data and governance, we change the Filipino narrative of resilience,” said Sec. Solidum.

GeoRisk Philippines Initiative

In her presentation, Mabelline T. Cahulogan from the DOST-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said that GeoRisk Philippines is a platform to share hazards, exposure, and other risk information to help people, communities, local governments, and national agencies prepare and plan on how to reduce the risks from natural hazards.

Its goal is to be the country’s central source of information for accurate and efficient hazards and risk assessment that will help the government increase the nation’s resilience to natural hazards.

She mentioned that the five data aspects of GeoRisk Philippines are data, technology, people, policy, and leadership.

Cahulogan explained to the attendees that GeoRisk Philippines can provide summary reports of the tsunami exposure level of barangays, municipalities, and provinces across the country. It calculates the area’s population that is exposed to tsunami risk, as well as the different heights of possible tsunami with their corresponding number of affected persons in case of the disaster.

GeoRisk Philippines consists of an integrated platform, namely; HazardHunterPH, GeoAnalyticsPH, GeoMapperPH, Map and Feature Services, 3D Earth Risk, and Plan SmartPH.

Multi-Hazard Impact-Based Forecasting in the Philippines

On 26 April 2023, the DOST-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) officially launched the five-year Multi-Hazard Impact-Based Forecasting and Early Warning System for the Philippines Project or the GCF-IBFPh Project.

Thelma A. Cinco of DOST-PAGASA emphasized that the project aims to meet the pressing demand for a proactive and inclusive climate risk management approach in the Philippines. The initiative centers on a people-focused, multi-hazard impact-based forecasting, and early warning system, covering flood, landslide, severe wind, and storm surge.

Cinco added that this endeavor will usher in a paradigm shift, transitioning from conventional weather forecasts to a comprehensive multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning system.

“Through a concentration on impacts, disaster management agencies, local government units, and the general public can enhance their comprehension of risks. This heightened awareness is more likely to prompt appropriate actions. By envisioning the potential disaster risks not just for their community but also for their families and themselves as individuals, people are empowered to make more informed and proactive decisions,” Cinco pointed out.

Sec. Solidum believes that Filipinnovation, a Pilipino word coined to describe ingenuity, represents how knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, and productivity drives economic growth. But it is also an evolution of how Filipinos are not merely surviving disasters but instead creating solutions to face them.

“We envision redefining Filipino resilience from merely surviving to living, coping, and adapting to risks. When we recognize the power and influence of science, technology, and innovation, we realize that we are not powerless against hazards and risks. We believe that through STI, resilience is possible, and that Filipinos can come out as Disaster Victors, not disaster victims,” Sec. Solidum ended.

By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII

Journal Online
A collection of noteworthy information on various topics from the Philippines and the rest of the world.