Sorsogon City is located in a part of the country where at least three cyclones pass every two years. In 2006 super typhoons Milenyo and Reming devastated the city. It is highly at risk to typhoons, drought caused by El Niño, projected rainfall change, and projected temperature increase. In order to build resilience, mainstreaming climate change considerations into the city’s policies and plans, as well as building the capacities of the local government and its citizens to directly manage climate impacts, was needed.

UN-Habitat designed a project for Sorsogon City implemented from 2008 to 2012 under the Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI) and the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) Joint Programme in the Philippines. The project supported the city government of Sorsogon to mainstream climate change adaptation into the city’s local planning processes, as well as showcased neighborhood adaptation actions to pursue climate-resilient development. UN-Habitat piloted tools on participatory climate vulnerability and adaptation assessment, supported community climate action planning, and provided capacity building to local government leaders and technical staff. Through city-wide consultation and planning activities, strategic local actions were identified on four focus areas critical to achieving immediate and long-term community resilience in the city: Housing and Basic Infrastructure, Livelihood, Environmental Management, and Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction. Through these, UN-Habitat and the city government implemented climate-sensitized and -responsive demonstration projects focusing on five (5) villages (Talisay, Sirangan, Sampaloc, Cabid-an, and Bitan-o Talipay) identified to be highly vulnerable or “hotspots” for climate impacts.

The CCCI/MDG-F Project of UN-Habitat in the Philippines increased the capacity of national and local partners on designing and building with nature especially in view of climate change by showcasing actions to develop a “Climate Resilient Urban Coastal Settlement” like Sorsogon City. The initiative influenced improvements of national planning guidelines and tools for local governments on (1) mainstreaming climate change into the land use plans and site planning, (2) vulnerability assessments specifically for human settlement areas, (3) crafting city shelter plans based on the vulnerabilities and climate risks identified, and (4) developing design parameters for climate-resilient coastal settlements and communities to help advance the local government’s capability to improve the resilience of its citizens in the long term. The impacts it created were catalyzed by the processes and activities from the demonstration projects in Sorsogon City, which accomplished the following project outputs:

  • Housing & Basic Infrastructure
    • Local minimum standards, dovetailed by a house evaluation tool,for disaster- and climate-resilient socialized housing were developed in agreement with community members and local leaders the 5 pilot villages and were adopted;
    • A prototype design for a climate-resilient housing units was developed and applied;
    • Thirty (30) vulnerable housing units in the pilot villages were retrofitted based on the minimum standards; and
    • Miracool, a high-reflective heat insulating coating which reduces surface temperatures of buildings and facilities exposed to sunlight, was applied on the roofs, ceilings, and other surfaces of a public elementary school, a barangay community hall, and three (3) core shelter housing units in low-income neighborhoods—resulting in temperature immediately falling from 50 to 32 degrees.
  • Livelihood
    • A livelihood baseline was developed, taking into account the seasonal impacts of climate change or extreme weather events on community livelihoods, raising awareness on adjustments, plans, and strategies needed to increase resiliency to projected changes in climate and potential disasters; Select members of vulnerable households or those with risk-sensitive livelihoods were trained on non-climate-sensitive and alternative livelihoods through partnership with the Technical Skills and Development Authority, showing them ways to augment or retain income should extreme weather events prevent them from undertaking their regular livelihood. Skills training and support included on-the-job house retrofitting, food processing, etc., as well as livelihood starter kits linked to the house retrofitting demonstration.
  • Environmental Management
    • Through trainings and dialogues with the City Government, communities gained more knowledge on implementing CC-mitigation responsive projects with a focus on efficient energy use and transport policy through the adoption of local policies on energy-efficient lighting and tricycle motor conversion;
    • One hundred (100) CFC street lights were replaced with energy-efficient LED lights adopted through an Executive Order issued by the City Mayor; and
    • A policy or programme on the conversion or replacement of 2-stroke tricycle engines to the more efficient and emission-reducing 4-stroke engines was integrated in the City Council Ordinance.
  • Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction
    • Working knowledge on community-based disaster risk reduction management and climate change adaptation increased in the pilot villages through effective Information, Education and Communication (IEC) strategies such as social artistry programmes/activities;
    • An ideal structural and facilities design of schools for use as evacuation centers was developed through stakeholder consultation;
    • Partnerships among the community, the academe, and the City Government on the care and retrofitting of schools for use as evacuation centers was forged through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and
    • A community school cum evacuation center was retrofitted based on the agreed ideal/modular design, which took into account space, privacy, gender sensitivity, and the avoidance of class disruptions.