Climate change destroying Philippine beaches?

Posted at 05/19/2014 4:21 PM | Updated as of 05/19/2014 4:21 PM

MANILA - President Aquino on Monday sounded the alarm on possible loss of Philippine beaches due to the effects of climate change.

In a speech to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) - ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change, President Aquino pointed out that Philippine tourist destinations are at risk from the effects of climate change.

"It is true: We have some of the best beaches and dive spots in the world. Sadly, these areas are also the ones most vulnerable to climate risk-whether in the form of loss of biodiversity or coastal erosion. Our immediate response: To plan ahead and reduce the impact of the effects of climate change on our tourist destinations, amongst others," he said.

Aquino said the Philippine government has included climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as disaster risk reduction and management, among the major considerations for future development.

He said his administration plans to mainstream climate change adaptation with local, sectoral, and national plans "all of which will consequently guide the development of tourist destinations and tourism activities per locality."

"With the increasing risks of climate change, this is something we encourage other ASEAN-member countries, as well as countries around the world, to look into," he said.

Aquino pointed out that climate change may come at the cost of national development if unchecked.

"Ignoring this problem means that the increasingly frequent and intense storms will continue to make landfall in our countries; changes in temperatures will continue to decrease our water supply and threaten our food security; and island countries, such as those in the South Pacific, will continue to worry that, within the span of a few decades, their countries may be consumed by the rising water levels and, eventually, cease to exist."

He also used the occasion to tout the administration's achievements in tourism.

Last year, the Philippines welcomed 4.68 million international tourists or nearly ten percent higher than the previous year.

In 2011, the Philippines beat the initial 2016 target of 35.5 million domestic travelers, recording 37.5 million in 2011 alone.

"Allow me to repeat that: We met our target for 2016 five years ahead of schedule. This pushed us to set our sights higher. Now we have increased our 2016 target to 56.1 million domestic travelers, and we will remain in active pursuit of this target as well," President Aquino said.

The main objectives of the conference are to analyze the impact of climate change on tourism, especially in the Asia Pacific region; and to strengthen the sector's ability to address the threats and challenges of climate change.