The Philippines consistently places high in global rankings on climate change risk and vulnerability.
With an average of 20 typhoons per year and frequent floods, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone nations.
According to the 2022 World Risk Index, the Philippines ranked first out of 193 countries with the highest disaster risks. Between 2011 and 2021, the country incurred more than $12 billion (USD) worth of damage and losses due to tropical cyclones alone.
The negative impacts of climate change and disasters severely impede national economic development and worsen poverty.
Thus, one of the top priorities for sustainable development is to strengthen national and local climate resilience systems.
Now, on March 22, 2023, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) signed a $2 million (USD) grant partnership agreement to boost the capacities of Philippine cities to adapt to, mitigate, and manage the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
Through this grant funding, KOICA will support the implementation of the USAID’s five-year, $15 million Climate Resilient Cities Project that benefits partner cities of Batangas, Borongan, Cotabato, Iloilo, Legazpi, and Zamboanga.
KOICA’s technical assistance will enhance the capacity of local government units (LGUs) to develop guidelines for and use climate adaptation technology. More than 180 Philippine officials and stakeholders will also be invited to participate in capacity building programs organized in the Philippines and Korea.
USAID and KOICA will also support the six LGUs and other stakeholders to more effectively disseminate climate-related information to local communities; increase access to climate financing for economic and social development; and promote natural climate solutions that strengthen cities’ resilience to climate change.
Additionally, the governments of the United States and Korea will soon launch a partnership to prevent and reduce marine pollution in Manila Bay. This partnership also seeks to enhance knowledge and influence social and behavioral changes for marine pollution reduction and prevention.
This latest agreement between USAID and KOICA follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in April 2021 where the two leading development agencies agreed to strategically collaborate on priority programs, including climate change-related initiatives, to advance redevelopment in the Philippines.
“As the United States and Korea are among the largest bilateral donors in the Philippines, this momentous partnership of USAID, KOICA, and the Philippine government will bring together our accumulated experience and technical expertise to build climate change and disaster resilience in the country,” KOICA Country Director Eunsub Kim said.
“For 70 years, the United States and Korea have worked together to pursue mutual goals based on our core values of democracy and human rights,” said USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn.
“The United States has pledged to strengthen this alliance and broaden the focus to address issues of critical importance to the Indo-Pacific region and the world. In particular, we will deepen our cooperation in addressing the climate crisis, reducing plastic waste, and promoting advanced technologies. We will also enhance our economic cooperation and people-to-people ties,” he added.
The USAID-KOICA partnership supports the Philippine government’s 2023-2028 strategy framework goal to “enhance adaptive capacity and resilience of communities and ecosystems to natural hazards and climate change.”
The U.S.-ROK alliance will be marking its 70th anniversary this year.
In the U.S.-ROK leader’s joint statement in May 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden and ROK President Yoon agreed to strengthen the global comprehensive strategic alliance beyond the Korean Peninsula.