Fourteen Southeast Asians complete workshop on VIAA for climate change in Hanoi


17 July 2013

Twelve technical officers and two executives from focal Climate Change offices in seven Southeast Asian countries completed a workshop on Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation Assessment (VIAA) for Climate Change: Approaches, Methods and Tools on 10-12 July 2013 at Meliã Hanoi Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. The officials and technical staff came from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and belong to the Southeast Asian Network of Climate Change Offices (SEAN-CC) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Co-organized for SEAN-CC by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN), the workshop provided an overview of the approaches, methods and tools in vulnerability, impact and adaptation assessment as inputs to planning of adaptations to climate change.

In their respective welcome remarks, Mr. Mozaharul Alam, UNEP Regional Climate Change Coordinator and Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director (as read by SEARCA Program Head for Knowledge Management), asserted that reducing the effects of climate change begins with a thorough evaluation of specific vulnerabilities that would reveal high priority sectors where countries should focus in developing appropriate climate change adaption (CCA) initiatives.

During the workshop, Mr. Alam provided the overall context of the necessity of adaptation plans being grounded on sound and reliable data/evidences derived through application of these assessment tools and procedures. Mr. Alam explained the processes of integrating climate change adaptation in development plans at different levels, from international, to national and local. He also provided examples of VIAA methods, tools and data pointing out gaps for action in the agriculture and water sectors of selected Southeast Asian countries.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (UN FAO) pilot projects in the Philippines and Peru, through Dr. Roberto Pedro C. Sandoval’s presentation co-authored with team leader Dr. Hideki Kanamaru, then provided two vulnerability frameworks and field-based experiences and insights on designing climate impact and vulnerability assessment. Dr. Sandoval is Climate Change and Food Security Specialist at the FAO Office in Manila, while Dr. Kanamaru is Natural Resources Officer (Climate Change) at FAO’s Rome Headquarters. Their project is titled Analysis and Mapping of Impacts under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security (AMICAF).

Various experts presented on VIAA tools in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and biodiversity, marine and coastal resources, and water resources; on the economics of climate change adaptation; and experiences in working with local governments in three Southeast Asian countries on vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning. To complete the adaptation planning cycle, Dr. Sandoval shared his team’s insights on assessment, monitoring and evaluation for results-based adaptation planning.

In his synthesis, Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz, Chancellor and Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and Philippine Representative to SEARCA’s Governing Board, who served as Workshop Technical Coordinator, reiterated the following constraints articulated by Mr. Alam as barriers to mainstreaming climate change adaptation in development planning: 1) limited understanding of the nature and extent of risks and vulnerabilities; 2) information and data gaps in VIAA (30 years minimum climate data); 3) lack of capability and other resources; 4) lack of supportive policies, standards, regulations and design guidance; 5) existing legal or regulatory restrictions; 6) lack of availability or restricted access to finance; and 7) differences in willingness to accept uncertainties.

Workshop participants then identified the methods and tools most applicable and practical in their respective contexts; and asserted their additional needs and requirements to be able apply them in mainstreaming CCA in their development plans and investments.

Aside from the experts already mentioned, the workshop also benefited from the contributions of Dr. Rizaldi Boer, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (CCROM-SEAP) at Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia; Dr. Elizabeth M. Philip, Head of the Climate Change and Forestry Program of the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and concurrent Head of the REDD Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia; Ms. Miledel Christine C. Quibilan, Coastal Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Specialist, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines; Dr. Shamsuddin Shahid, Associate Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; Dr. Herminia A. Francisco, Director of the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA); Dr. Bui Dung The, Director for Science-Technology, International Cooperation and Postgraduate Education at Hue University College of Economics, Vietnam; and Mr. Le Van Thu, Expert on Investment Promotion, The Peoples Committee of Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam.