WB seeking concrete mitigation programs

Posted on February 11, 2011

THE WORLD BANK yesterday said the Philippines will be in a much better position to receive additional funding if the government were to provide concrete programs on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change mitigation, as well as instituting financing mechanisms in which to channel international funding.

"There is going to be quite a bit of money available for either adaptation or climate mitigation measures that the Philippines can take... if the Philippines is really ready, as is various channels for absorbing that funding and doing things with it...," the bank’s country director, Bert Hofman, told reporters in a forum.

Mr. Hofman, together with his colleagues, provided a technical briefing on the joint World Bank-United Nations publication, "Natural Hazards, Unnatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention" at the Senate.

The briefing, which was moderated by Senator Loren B. Legarda, was also attended by Presidential Assistant for Climate Change Elisea G. Gozun, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr., lawmakers and other government officials.

Mr. Hofman then listed funding opportunities, including Philippine-based private sector-led Post-Disaster Recovery Foundation designed for forestry initiatives, the reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) initiative specifically for tropical countries, and the over $100-billion Green Fund to be administered by World Bank still under development.

The Philippines could tap the World Bank as a repository of global experiences and best practices, said Yan F. Zhang, sector coordinator for urban, water and disaster risk management program of World Bank.

Ms. Zhang noted that during Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay’s recent visit to the United States, the World Bank helped arrange an on-site visit to an existing private-public partnership project in Washington D.C.

The project, administered by the United Stated Department of Housing and Urban Development (USHUD), includes 700 units of affordable housing for the poor with 1,300 units sold at market prices.

"It’s really onsite provision for relocation to existing public housing residents, while leveraging private sector funding," Ms. Zhang told BusinessWorld in a separate interview.

“This could be a good model, among many other models, to be replicated here in Metro Manila," she added.

And while the institution may be providing technical assistance to certain projects, funding could follow depending on the merits of these projects.

“ Increasing access to finance for the poor, and reducing the vulnerabilities to disaster and climate change, that’s hitting those two in one together,”said Ms. Zhang.

Mr. Purisima said his department is negotiating with banks on disaster insurance and financing, to close in a month. "In case disaster happens, so we need funding, we call on these capacity funds... It should be substantial for damages." -- Johanna Paola D. Poblete