New report reveals how climate change will severely affect Philippine freshwater resources

Improved water management must be key adaptation strategy, Greenpeace says

Feature story - December 21, 2009
A new report launched by Greenpeace today details how climate change will severely affect the country’s freshwater resources in the coming years, aggravating projected water crises, unless effective adaptation measures are urgently put in place.

An old Ilocano tribesman quenches his thirst in a pristine waters of Anuplig falls in the Mountains of the last town of Ilocos Norte in Adams municipal.This photo is a finalist in this month’s Greenpeace photo contest with the theme “Celebrating Philippine freshwaters and looking at its threats.” The photo contest is part of the environmental group’s 'Project Clean Water.'

"The trend of extreme weather events attributed  to climate change-be it drought which causes water shortage, or severe typhoons which brings too much water-have caused periods of water crises that have destroyed lives and the economy.  Water insecurity cuts across all sectors and will negatively affect agriculture, health, and the economy with far reaching social consequences," said metreologist Dr Leoncio Amadore, the report's editorial consultant.

The report, entitled "Climate change and water: impacts and vulnerabilities in the Philippines," uses the projections of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate  Change (IPCC) regarding climate change effects on water resources globally, and shows how these impacts are being experienced in  freshwater resources in the country.  It also reveals the current  vulnerabilities of freshwater systems in the Philippines, which are  already under pressure from growing populations, worsening pollution, and deforestation.

According to report, scientists already warn that, if unchecked, pollution and population pressure on freshwater sources could lead to a water crisis in less than 20 years.  Studies further show that unless the Philippines takes steps to protect and conserve its freshwater sources now, the amount of freshwater available for each person by 2025 will decrease dramatically by 65% of the current per capita availability, potentially making the Philippines second to the

lowest among Southeast Asian countries with regard to freshwater availability per person, and bringing the country to the brink of a water crisis.

Click here to download the report in .PDF

The report also cites extreme weather events that have happened to the country in recent years, including drought and severe typhoons, and shows how each has seriously affected freshwater bodies and water infrastructure, causing periods of water crisis.  According to Greenpeace, more than already existing sources of water stresses such as population and pollution, climate change presents an additional challenge-one that is tremendously significant since its effects are felt on a scale beyond the country's coping capacity.

"Last week, in Copenhagen world leaders failed to arrive at a climate deal that would have helped countries like Philippines that is amongst the most vulnerable and least prepared with the multiple impacts of climate change. We hope that this report will expose yet another facet of climate change adaptation that the governments should consider. Addressing water pollution is the first important step towards securing the country's water supply and improved management of water resources is a key climate change adaptation strategy," Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner Amalie Obusan.

"2009 has been a tumultuous year for the climate, as well as for the Philippines which has experienced what were perhaps the two worst typhoons in its history.  With the extremely disappointing result in Copenhagen , this might be a portent of things to come.  Now, more than ever, people around the world need to step up and press for change.  We need to hold politicians and corporations in our own countries accountable to a higher standard that that set in Copenhagen.," she added.

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