10.5M urban dwellers in PH face calamity threat

By Jennifer A. Ng, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 16 2012 09:02 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2012 01:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines - More than 10.5 million people living in cities in the Philippines are at risk of being exposed to coastal and?inland flooding, according to a study released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In its “Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2012,” the ADB noted that the Philippines is among the top 5 Asian countries where cities are facing increasing threat from floods. The most vulnerable, the report noted, is?Quezon City which has been included in the top 40 list of Asian cities vulnerable to inland?flooding.

In the entire Asia and the Pacific, ADB said more than 400 million people are at risk of being exposed to?coastal flooding and inland flooding, with China leading the list of Asian countries with the most number of?people that will be affected.

“Asia has seen unprecedented urban population growth but this has been accompanied by an immense stress?on the environment. The challenge now is to put in place policies which will reverse that trend and facilitate the development of green technology and green urbanization,” said ADB Chief?Economist Changyong Rhee.

The ADB also projected that by 2025, the number of Asians living in cities that will be exposed to threats of?inland and coastal flooding could increase to more than 750 million.?

The rapid urbanization of Asian cities, ADB noted, have increased the risk of flooding for urban dwellers.

Since the 1980s, the ADB said Asia has been urbanizing at a faster rate than anywhere else, with the region?already home to almost half of all the world’s city dwellers. In just over a decade, it will have 21 of 37?megacities worldwide, and over the next 30 years, another 1.1 billion people are expected to join Asia’s?already swollen urban ranks.

“This breakneck expansion has been accompanied by a sharp rise in pollution, slums, and widening economic?and social inequalities which are causing rapid environmental degradation. Particularly disturbing are urban?carbon dioxide emissions, which if left unchecked under a business-as-usual scenario, could reach 10.2?metric tons per capita by 2050, a level which would have disastrous consequences for both Asia and the rest?of the world,” the ADB said.

It said conservation and efficiency improvements will help mitigate the adverse impact of rapid urbanization on?the environment.?

“Imposing congestion and emission charges, as in Singapore, and removing inefficient fuel subsidies, as in?Indonesia, can make prices more fully reflect social costs,” the ADB said.

The report, however, pointed out that much more is needed including the development and mainstreaming of?new green technologies. Early examples are waste-to-energy conversion plants, as in the Philippines and?Thailand, or “smart” electric grids.