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Enhancing U.S.-Philippines Defense Cooperation in a Changing Climate

Underway supply replenishment

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian H. Abel

By Christine Parthemore, Executive Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As part of a long trip through the Asia-Pacific, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made news this week during his stop in the Philippines, where he announced new details of America’s current defense relationship and plans to expand it. The U.S. will be “deploying nine aircraft and hundreds of U.S. troops and special operators to at least seven bases in the Philippines as part of a new, regular presence there,” as Stars and Stripes reported. This additional presence, Carter stated, is primarily to “tamp down tensions” in the South China Sea.

With more U.S. assets and personnel heading to the region, the U.S.-Philippines partnership needs to include measures to ensure preparedness for some of the more damaging effects of climate change, including sea level rise, that will hit the Philippines particularly hard. The bilateral relationship already includes work relevant to preparing for the changing climate, including the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief elements of the annual Balikatan exercise. Other productive cooperative activities could include:

  • Sharing sea level rise projections relevant to military and coast guard facilities.
  • Where projections need updating, develop them together. This should include reviewing whether data can be leveraged from existing terrestrial monitors and remote sensing assets.
  • Share lessons with the Philippines from U.S. bases already being hit by sea level rise, such as our critical defense sites in the Virginia Beach-Hampton Roads area.

Be sure to track Carter’s trip at the Department’s extensive Asia-Pacific Rebalance website, and check out the Center for Climate and Security’s analysis and recommendations on climate change and the Asia-Pacific rebalance here.

Philippines And United States To Cooperate On Climate Security

Underway supply replenishmentPresident Barack Obama recently returned from his tour of the Asia-Pacific to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to its “pivot to Asia” policy. An important stop along the way was a visit to long-time ally of the United States, the Philippines. During President Obama’s visit, the Philippines and the United States signed a 10-year defense agreement. According to Evan Medeiros, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asian affairs, “This is the most significant defense agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines in decades.” The Washington Post reported that in addition to helping to balance China’s claims to the South China Sea, the agreement “gives the United States greater flexibility to respond to threats and natural disasters in the region.” This was echoed in remarks by President Obama and President Benigno Aquino in a joint press conference.  (more…)

Can Typhoon Recovery Help Resolve Conflict?

800px-Homes_destroyed_by_Typhoon_Bopha_in_Cateel,_Davao_OrientalThere is quite a bit of research on the opportunity to forge peace agreements in the wake of natural disasters. Geoff Dabelko, among others, is a leader in this space (see for example “Climate Change, Adaptation and Peacebuilding in Africa”). Could there be such an opportunity in a typhoon-torn Philippines?

The road to recovery in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda will be long, a fact recognized by the Philippine government that has declared a “state of national calamity.” But there is evidence to suggest that the recovery effort could help resolve conflict between separatists and the Filipino government, as well as tensions between the Philippines and China. (more…)

A Flood of Flood Reports: A global list of recent events

Mandakini-left-bank-broken-bridge-rudraprayag-sangam-gIn the past few weeks, we’ve noticed an unusual number of articles about significant flood events that are occurring, or have recently occurred, around the world.  Though it is far too soon to determine whether or not these floods are associated with climate change, projections for global rainfall variability suggest that more extreme and unpredictable flooding is likely in our future. The first step in preparing for such a future is recognizing and calling attention to these extreme events, and their real human security implications. Such reports are easily lost in the shuffle of the daily news cycle, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list below. (more…)

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