Diaspora voices • Asia
June 12, 2023
Julie Amoroso-Garbin on proposal writing and accessing climate change funding at local level

In April, we returned to Puerto Princesa, Palawan to work with 24 Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS). EUDiF’s Hala Tarabay spoke to the lead expert and diaspora professional Julie Amoroso-Garbin about her experience in training local actors on accessing climate change funding…

Climate change is highly context-sensitive. Active participation of local authorities in climate change adaptation and resilience is at the heart of creating successful solutions. In Palawan, LGUs and PCSDS are some of the best positioned to address climate change concerns while considering the needs and priorities of local communities. However, like many localities around the world, those in Palawan lack sufficient resources to implement new projects. While national and foreign climate funds are available, accessing them can be challenging due to their complexity. 

Knowing these opportunities are available, as well as there being a supporting regulatory and political framework in Palawan to pursue the agenda of combating climate change, EUDiF collaborated up with PCSDS, LGUs and a diaspora professional to advance the knowledge in the province on how to access climate funding. Julie Amoroso-Garbin, a diaspora professional in climate change adaptation, created and delivered a training on writing project proposals and accessing climate change funding tailored to local actors in Palawan.

Julie has a wealth of knowledge to share in the area of climate change stemming from her experience in the Philippines and abroad. She has an excellent understanding of climate change priorities, funding opportunities and ways to unlock them at the national and international levels.

At the end of the training, Hala Tarabay, EUDiF Project Officer, sat down with Julie to discuss this partnership and reflected on the potential of local actors and the diaspora in climate adaptation.

Hala Tarabay: Julie, you have been working in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction since 2008. How did your interest in the area start?

Julie Amoroso-Garbin: I grew up in Albay, a province in the Southern part of Luzon along the Eastern Seaboard. To this day, I can still vividly remember the moments when we needed to evacuate my grandparents’ house because the water has gone up my grandparents’ waist or when the wind has taken part of our roofs. I guess growing up with typhoons had subconsciously gravitated me towards climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Climate change poses risks to the health and well-being of individuals – How is the Philippines affected nationally, and Palawan at a more local level?

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world and have experienced the greatest number of disasters related to climate. It ranked 17th as the most affected country from extreme weather events in the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 with a score of 26.67 using 2019 data. In 2021, it ranked as 4th as the most affected countries in this twenty-year period (2000 to 2019).

Climate change poses significant challenges for local governments in the Philippines, as the country is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts due to its geographic location and socio-economic conditions. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAG-ASA) projections, the Philippines will likely experience warmer and drier climates in the future due to climate change. Some of the key impacts of climate change that local governments in the Philippines include: Increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters; water scarcity; agricultural productivity and increasing health impacts.

One of the most felt impacts in Palawan is the prolonged dryness season which affects the water supply and the agriculture yield of the region. Additionally, Palawan is also experiencing sea level rise, coral bleaching and biodiversity loss due to heat and increased frequency and intensity of typhoons.

Climate change is a global issue. It requires a well-coordinated approach towards shared objectives to address the consequences of climate change. Based on your experience in Palawan, and starting from the local level, how do you suggest different LGUs and PCSDS work together to ensure appropriate climate adaptation?

I think it is important to have one clear vision on how you see your community adapting to climate change. I know that we are playing catch up with climate change and we will always find ourselves constantly checking whether we are indeed adapting, but it is important to have a leader who will have the political will to put climate change as a national priority. LGUs that have the capacity to access funding and implement projects should do so and should take advantage of opportunities out there in order to contribute to the bigger adaptation goal. PCSDS has a unique role to play in Palawan and in fact Palawan LGUs can leverage that in order to access appropriate funding for climate change adaptation.

LGUs can also take advantage of external support such as this action from EUDiF and use it to build their capacity on climate finance. There are a lot of Filipinos working in the climate change arena which could also provide specialised skills.

“Understanding the problem is the start of creating a sound solution”.

With two full time jobs [working with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and being a mother] you still took on a third task to become a diaspora professional in this action. What was your motivation to do so and what would you say to others in the diaspora who are considering taking on such a challenge?

The motivation is the thought of being able to give back to my country in my own little way. I have always planned to be back and serve my community again but it took me over 8 years to do that. I am thankful for the EUDiF support for this opportunity and I hope more sustainability and environmental protection support be given to other communities as well specially those within the 29 vulnerable provinces of the country.

Julie Amoroso-Garbin is a member of the Filipino diaspora and is based in Bonn, Germany. She has been working in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction since 2008 and with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat since 2014. She currently works as an Associate Programme Officer in the Adaptation Division of the UNFCCC secretariat. She is an experienced climate change adaptation professional with a demonstrated history of supporting national climate change teams from the least developed countries in formulating national adaptation plans and developing project proposals for climate change adaptation. Before joining the UN, she was the technical lead officer for the Project Climate Twin Phoenix – RAPID Project. The project started in 2012 and was jointly implemented by the Climate Change Commission and the United Nations Development Programme. The project provided support to local government units affected by Typhoons Washi, Bopha and Haiyan to build back better by ensuring the integration of climate change information – including risks and vulnerabilities to specific hazards and climate change stressors – into local development plans such as comprehensive land use and development plans.

Julie is currently based in Germany; you can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

For full details on the action that Julie is a part of, see the action page

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