OPEN LETTER: On the proposed Dumaguete reclamation project

To the Leadership of the City Government of Dumaguete:

Aksyon Klima Pilipinas raises grave concern over the 174-hectare reclamation project in Dumaguete City, as part of the planned development of a “Smart City” district. While we understand that the PHP23-billion project could promote economic, social, and political development, the adverse impacts to long-term environmental and peoples’ health would outweigh these benefits, especially in the era of the ecological crisis.

The planned reclamation may result in erosion of coastal soils and liquefaction, leaving the area more prone to incidences of flooding, sea level rise, and earthquakes. It also threatens four marine protected areas located near the site, which would harm marine biodiversity, fisheries productivity, and local tourism. 

Furthermore, the fact that city leadership has pledged to strengthen the provisions for environmental protection in the accompanying joint venture agreement only after public outcry shows not only the lack of prioritization in environmental health, but also a lack of public consultation regarding this endeavor.

The project may run contrary to the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) priority strategy on ecological and environmental stability which is focused on the protection and rehabilitation of critical ecosystems, and the restoration of ecological services. 

Further, Aksyon Klima would like to remind the city leadership of their policy commitments under their own Comprehensive Local Climate Change Action Plan – Disaster Risk Reduction (LCCAP-DRR) Plan 2017-2022, on infrastructure development: properly sited and designed so as not to become source of anthropogenic hazards themselves, minimized exposure to geo-hydrological hazards, retrofit old structures for adaptive reuse to preserve their historical or heritage value, and establish civil works that assist nature to rehabilitate itself or to maintain its own integrity. The policy commitment on protection areas also provides that the ecological function shall be paramount over economic and other considerations when allowing the use of protected areas

The “Smart City” development is nowhere to be found in the LCCAP-DRR Plan as climate mitigation and adaptation strategy, nor that of disaster risk reduction. Such is actually contrary to its Local Climate Change Adaptation Program’s commitments: marine protected areas establishment and enhancement and urban greening and mangrove reforestration.

This is yet another example of the misguided perception that achieving development must come at the expense of environmental and peoples health, which has been prevailing in the Philippines for far too long. We call on the Dumaguete City government to reconsider signing onto this project and instead pursue other development projects that are more aligned with enhancing climate resilience and sustainable development.

On behalf of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas Steering Committee,

Rodne R. Galicha (Convenor)

A national network of civil society organizations working on diverse climate and development-related issues in the Philippines.

Download Dumaguete City’s Comprehensive Local Climate Change Action Plan – Disaster Risk Reduction (LCCAP-DRR) Plan 2017-2022: