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Philippine climate change body installs new expert panel

In a move to include more sectors and regions for implementing carbon-reducing projects in the Philippines, the Climate Change Commission has appointed 16 new experts to advise them on climate science.

A group of scientists, engineers, economists, doctors and disaster risk reduction professionals from across the Philippines have been appointed by the Philippine Climate Change Commission (CCC) as new members of its panel of experts. 

The 16 members of the CCC’s National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) will advise the commission on climate science, green technologies, and recommend best practices for vulnerable communities in adapting to natural disasters.

The commission, which is the lead policy-making body of the government tasked to coordinate programmes to ensure the country’s climate resilience, installed the new panel in a bid to provide more sectors and regions in the country with equal access to opportunities and resources to stem climate change impacts.

“They represent various regions of the country and are doing practical work on the ground, and thus aware of what is going on at the grassroots level,” Carlos Dominguez, the commision’s chairperson-designate, said in a virtual press briefing on Wednesday where he introduced the new members.

“We are now in the business of implementing concrete projects and programmes to build the resilience of our community, reverse the degradation and protect our vital food sources. For what is global now must be addressed at the local level. What is theoretical now demands practical applications on the ground,” he said. 

The new panel includes Dr Jihan Adil, national president of the Society of Environmental Engineers of the Philippines, Inc, an organisation of engineers that promotes environmental protection and management in the Philippines.

Adil, who represents the Muslim community in Zamboanga City in southern Mindanao, said she will educate her region about climate change starting with the baranggay or villages.

“I will focus on more responsive inclusion of environmental engineering approaches as well as environmental planning strategies for our climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, programmes, and action plans,” said Adil.

Dr Renzo Guinto, a medical doctor and professor at the St Luke’s Medical Center in Manila, specialises in public and planetary health, where he studies how climate change causes diseases.

“When you say planetary health, you’re not just talking about people as your patients but the planet as well. We know that our planet is in an emergency situation and we need our health sector professionals to be part of addressing the issue,” said Guinto. 

Dr Gay Defiesta, dean of biological science division at the University of the Philippines-Visayas in the province of Iloilo, said she wanted to contribute technical advice in agricultural economics and environmental accounting.

“I’m very much honoured and thankful for the opportunity to serve through the platform of NPTE. I hope to contribute to the commission in my area of specialisation in natural resource economics, particularly in localisaiton and capacity building,” she said.

The NPTE was created in accordance with the Climate Change Act of 2009, which aims to integrate disaster risk reduction measures into climate change adaptation plans, development and poverty reduction programmes.

The term of the new panel ends in 2023, but they may be reappointed. Here is the complete list of this year’s installed members:

  • Dr Jian Adil, an environmental planning and engineering expert
  • Dr Nathaniel Alibuyog, an agricultural engineer specialising in land and water management
  • Dr Zenaida Andrade, a chemical engineer and a specialist in the fields of chemical engineering, pollution control and waste management
  • Dr Wilfredo Campos, an expert in biological oceanography, coastal ecology and ecosystems, coral reef ecology and fisheries
  • Dr Gay Defiesta, who specialises in agricultural economics and environmental accounting
  • Dr Ramon Lorenzo Luis Guinto, an expert in climate change and public health
  • Dr Eduardo Mangaoang, an expert in upland, lowland and coastal forest landscape restoration and conservation
  • Dr Jimmy Masagca, an expert in fisheries and mangroves
  • Dr Susan Mercado, a public health and food security expert
  • Dr Richard Muallil, a marine scientist and a recognised expert in coastal resource management and marine protected areas
  • Dr Emma Porio, a specialist in climate and disaster resilience
  • Dr Patricia Ann Sanchez, a specialist in disaster risk management and water resource assessment
  • Engr Merriam Santillan, a geodetic engineer
  • Dr Encarnacion Emilia Yap, a post-harvest fisheries specialist and fisheries professional
  • Dr Maria Angela Zafra, an expert in inclusive business models, sustainable tourism and gender inclusivity

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