October 12, 2022
Local climate action with diaspora support in Palawan, Philippines

We are excited to announce EUDiF’s first action in Southeast Asia! This addition to our Diaspora Professionals 4 Development (DP4D) portfolio is in collaboration with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff.

Palawan, the Philippines’ last ecological frontier

Composed of around 7,640 islands, the Philippines is one of the world’s 17 mega-biodiverse countries. It is home to three UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves serving as protected ecological model sites to develop conservation and sustainability approaches. One of these is located in Palawan, a province enjoying diverse ecosystems, two world heritage sites, and many endemic species spread out across its 1,700 islands and islets.

However, much like the rest of the country, Palawan has suffered environmental degradation over the years. It is faced with different threats such as population growth and resource overexploitation, the impacts of which are further fuelled by increasingly catastrophic natural calamities such as super typhoon Rai in December 2021. This particular catastrophe highlighted the province’s vulnerability and strengthened calls to increase climate resilience efforts.

Since 1992, the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) of Palawan serves as a comprehensive framework guiding policy and programmes to protect and develop local natural resources. The lead agency governing its policy direction and implementation is the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS). PCSDS, which serves as the regular professional support staff of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, sought technical assistance in the areas of education and climate finance via EUDiF.

Diaspora knowledge transfer at local level

With a long history of emigration including significant highly-skilled outflow, 9.8% of the Filipino diaspora who left the Philippines in 2021 chose the European Union as a destination, a consistent proportion since the beginning of the century. This new micro-project leverages the knowledge and experience of two Filipino diaspora professionals in two areas: environmental education, and climate action funding to meet local development objectives. It engages local partners to reach the region’s sustainable goals.

The action aims to equip Palawan State University (PSU) with a new tailored higher education curriculum on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It will also better position PCSDS and local government units (LGUs) in Palawan to receive funding in the area of climate adaptation by strengthening their fundraising capacities.

Improving local environmental education

While national basic and higher education curricula have integrated environmental education over the past decades, universities in Palawan have not yet reflected the recent shift in the international scene to ESD. Strongly recommended by UNESCO, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and the Philippine Commission on Higher Education, ESD is a more interdisciplinary approach that links environmental, economic and social sustainability. Under the action, one of the diaspora professionals will develop a tailored ESD curriculum to be piloted at PSU. The resulting syllabus will be shared with other public universities in Palawan, as well as in the provinces of Albay and Puerto Galera which have biosphere reserves.

Increasing local capacity to access climate adaptation grants

Given that climate adaptation highly context-specific, LGUs are well-positioned to address concerns while considering specific needs and capacities. However, additional resources are needed to instigate projects. Although national and foreign climate funds are available, there is a lack of know-how at local level to access such grants. Accordingly, EUDiF will work with another diaspora professional to create a training module on climate adaptation grant writing and acquisition for PCSDS and LGU staff.

As EUDiF’s first action in Asia, we are looking forward to this collaboration, both for being a regional first and as an opportunity to explore processes to transfer diaspora knowledge at local level. The action is also our third with a strong potential impact on environmental protection, a topic of great global importance.

If you are interested to know more, head over to the action infosheet below:

Cover photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash

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