A four year partnership between WWF-Philippines and BPI Foundation, Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts looks at 16 Philippine cities and their ability to weather climate change effects. The goal is to help city planners and decision-makers assess climate change impacts, identify opportunities and decide on sustainability strategies, site-specific interventions and standards of next practice that will allow each city to retain economic viability and respond more competitively in a climate-defined future. You can find below the abridged findings for each of the 16 cities. You may also download the full study here.
1. Angeles City
Located just beyond the northern rim of Central Luzon's vast flood catchment, Angeles City is situated inland, far away from the sea. Although the city claims to be historically free from serious flooding, it is located well within a typhoon-affected Type 1 climate zone. Economic activity in and around any river basin is likely to be impacted by the intense storms and extreme rainfall spawned by a changing climate.
2. Baguio City
As the only inland city on our list, it is unlikely that Baguio City will experience any of the direct coastal impacts of climate change. Baguio sits in a Type 1 Climate zone, with a pronounced wet season from May to October. However, its location in northern Luzon, puts the city well within the Philippine typhoon belt. This clearly establishes that Baguio faces exposure to intensified tropical cyclones and extreme rainfall.
3. Batangas City
Batangas City sits at the coastal edge of a gently sloped and rolling landscape extending from the uplands of Lipa City down to Batangas Bay. With more than 73% of the city's land area located on slopes less than 15%, geo-hazard maps indicate low susceptibility to both floods and landslides. Although it is located within Luzon – an island that suffers from most typhoons moving westward from the Pacific to the West Philippine Sea – Batangas City's western orientation generally protects it from the worst effects of tropical cyclones. The cities and towns of Batangas Bay straddle Type 1 and Type 3 climate zones.
4. Butuan City
Butuan has no dry season. Typical of Type 2 climate zones, its heaviest rains fall from November to April. Over the last six decades, 63 typhoons have tracked through Butuan – an average of one per year. Sitting by the coastline, at the very edge of a major river delta, within the path of last quarter typhoons; Butuan City is likely to experience all 6 climate scenarios listed in the 2009 WWF study.
5. Cagayan de Oro City
Cagayan de Oro is a coastal city located within a Type 3 climate zone. Sitting close to what could be the southernmost rim of the Philippine typhoon belt, the city received 11 typhoon hits over a 20-year period. In a country that regularly receives up to 20 or more tropical storms per year, one event every two years seems relatively insignificant. From 1960 to 2010, official data reports annual rainfall of only 1697 mm – once again, well below the national average of 2400 mm.
6. Cebu City
Like Iloilo, Cebu City will be exposed to all six climate scenarios listed in the WWF study. It is the only city on this list situated in a Type 2 Climate zone, with a relatively pronounced wet season from June to early January. Its location, in the central Visayas, between the wet / typhoon prone and dry / hot belts of the Philippines, points to the likelihood that its rainfall challenge will have to do with high variability and a difficulty of prediction, rather than a pronounced increase or decrease of rainfall.
7. Dagupan City
The city of Dagupan was built on the water-saturated substrate of a coastal wetland, facing the West Philippine Sea. This historical fact could very well emerge as the main determinant of Dagupan's exposure to climate risk. This could also define and limit the opportunities for re-configuration that are available to the city. Sitting within a Type 1 climate zone, the city is located well within the Philippine typhoon belt. Official data reports 47 typhoon hits over 20 years. That is another given, and with climate change, tropical storms are expected to intensify.
8. Davao City
Davao City is the only city in Phase 1 that sits in a Type 4 Climate zone, with relatively even year-round rainfall. It does not experience typhoons. As a coastal city in this typhoon-free portion of Mindanao, the city's future will likely involve only 5 of the 6 climate scenarios listed in the WWF study.
9. General Santos City
General Santos sits within a Type 4 climate zone, with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Of the 16 cities assessed thus far, it has the lowest historical annual rainfall at an annual average of 911mm. Although General Santos has been typhoon free – with only one storm tracking through the city in 40 years - this city is likely to experience the remaining 5 climate impacts listed in the 2009 WWF study. These include El Nino related shifts, increased temperatures, ocean acidification, higher rainfall and sea level rise.
10. Iloilo City
Iloilo City, like Cebu, will be exposed to all six climate scenarios listed in the WWF study. Like Baguio, it sits in a Type 1 Climate zone, with a pronounced wet season from May to early December. Its location, between the wet / typhoon prone and dry / hot belts of the archipelago, may point to the likelihood that it will have to deal with high rainfall variability, rather than a pronounced rainfall increase or decrease.
11. Laoag City
A river defines the current spread of Laoag City. To an extent, that same river influences the city's level of climate exposure. Located in broad flatlands, scored only by this watercourse and its delta, the city's gently sloping terrain rises from its lowest point - barely 2 meters above sea level - to distant hills that are only 60 meters high. As a result, Laoag does not share the landslide risk facing Baguio, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga or some portions of Davao.
12. Naga City
Naga City is sandwiched between two natural systems that influence its hydrologic cycle - Mount Isarog, to the east, and Southern Luzon's major flood zone, the Bicol River Basin, to the west. Historically, this southernmost section of Luzon, situated within a Type 2 climate zone, is visited by several typhoons a year.
13. Puerto Princesa City
Puerto Princesa is located within a Type 3 climate zone – characterized by relatively dry weather from November to April, becoming generally wet for the rest of the year. Over the last 52 years, 98 typhoons have tracked through Puerto Princesa. Like Butuan, Puerto Princesa is exposed to all 6 climate impacts listed in the 2009 WWF study on the Coral Triangle and Climate Change.
14. Santiago City
Santiago is located at a confluence of climate types. Although city itself sits at the southern tip of a Type 3 climate zone, the geography just east of the city falls climate Type 4, while the provinces west of Santiago fall under climate Type 1. Over the last 20 years, 66 typhoons have tracked through Santiago. As an inland city, far away from the ocean, sea level rise and ocean acidification are unlikely to directly affect Santiago. However, it is vulnerable to the remaining four impacts including El Nino related phenomena, rising temperatures, destructive storms and intense rainfall.
15. Tacloban City
Facing Cancabato Bay in the San Juanico Strait, Tacloban City is located along the northeastern coastline of Leyte Province. A developing urban center among the eastern-most islands and towns of the archipelago, Tacloban is located within a Type 2 climate zone, inside the Philippine typhoon belt.
NOTE: Due to the destruction the city suffered from Super Typhoon Yolanda / Haiyan, much of the data/analysis for this city are no longer valid. At best, they may serve as a source of historical information.
16. Zamboanga City
Zamboanga City can be described as a classic "ridge to reef" ecosystem. This coastal city sits within a Type 3 climate zone, at the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula. This is a typhoon-free zone.
* A new phase from 2016 onwards aims to study and fund solutions to agriculture, water provision and aquaculture.