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The Philippines is an archipelagic, tropical country located in Southeast Asia, comprised of around 7,641 islands and marked with a 36,289 km long coastline. The country has a humid climate and a topography characterized by mountainous terrain bordered by narrow coastal plains. The Philippines is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, hosting two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity [1].

Since the Philippines is located in the tropical cyclone belt and the Pacific Rim volcanic belt, the country is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, disasters and geographical hazards [1]. In fact, the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 by the Germanwatch ranked the Philippines as the fourth most affected country by weather-related events between 2000 and 2019 [2].

Important National Context

The Philippines is considered as a low-middle income developing country and has a current population of 111 million (in 2021) [3]. The country’s urban population is growing rapidly, at an annual growth rate of 1.9% (in 2020) [4], making the Philippines one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the East Asia and the Pacific region. In the past five decades, the urban population increased by over 50 million people, and by 2050, is projected to reach 102 million people (more than 65% of the country’s total population) [5].

Urban density overall is high, particularly in Metro Manila, one of the fastest growing megacities in the region. In the Philippines, urbanization is correlated with economic efficiency and growth. However, while urbanization has had positive impacts on increased productivity, economic growth and poverty reduction, there are several underlying structural issues affecting urbanization in the country. These include the countries’ archipelagic geography which creates divisions in connectivity both internally and to external markets, the stagnating manufacturing sector which has not resulted in high quality jobs and has negatively affected urban led growth, and the country’s high exposure to natural hazards which exacerbates urban management challenges [5].

The Philippines has been one of the most dynamic economies in the East Asia Pacific region. Average annual economic growth rate increased from 4.5% between 2000-2009, to 6.4% between 2010-2019. With increasing urbanization, a growing middle class, and a large and young population, the Philippines’ economic dynamism is rooted in strong consumer demand supported by a vibrant labor market and robust remittances. The Philippine economy has also made progress in delivering inclusive growth, evidenced by a decline in poverty rates, which declined from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018 [6]. Key economic activities in the country include business process outsourcing, tourism, semiconductors and electronics assembly, metals, and agricultural exports.

However, economic growth in the country was severely impacted by COVID-19 quarantine restrictions which significantly restricted economic activities. Nevertheless, the economy has started to recover with a 3.7% year-on-year expansion in the first half of 2021. With continued recovery and reform efforts, the country is getting back on track on its way to achieving upper middle-income country status (per capita income range of US$4,096–$12,695) [6].

Science, technology, and innovation (STI) is an essential component of a country's socio-economic development. The Philippines is facing multiple global and local challenges that require STI, such as increased competition due to globalization and regional integration, natural disasters, environmental degradation, climate change, and persistent and growing poverty and inequality. However, currently, the Philippines is not prepared to meet these challenges, as it is not investing enough of its resources in science and technology, human resource development, research and development (R&D), and physical infrastructure [7].

The development of STI is of critical importance in the field of climate change. Several national government agencies are involved in programmes and activities that promote the development of climate-smart technologies in the Philippines, so that the country can mitigate GHG emissions and become better adapted to the impacts of climate change. However, many gaps remain in promoting climate-smart technology transfer, mainly due to the lack of capacity among executing agencies and a lack of financing [8].

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Its 7,641 islands are exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including typhoons, earthquakes, floods, storm surges, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Nearly 74% of the population is vulnerable to natural disasters and 60% of the total land area is exposed to multiple natural hazards [9].

In addition to natural disasters, the Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, in March 2020, declared a public health emergency and called for the full cooperation of all government agencies and local governments to address the threat of COVID-19 [9].

Environmental Governance

The Philippines long-term aspiration AmBisyon Natin 2040 was derived from a nationwide survey conducted in 2015 and is the result of a long-term visioning process which represents the collective vision and aspirations of the county’s population [10] - “By 2040, the Philippines will have been a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor, our people live long and healthy lives, are smart and innovative, and live in a hightrust society” [11].

Around the same time, the Philippines adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and subsequently crafted the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022. The PDP 2017-2022 incorporates the SDGs, and aims to lay down a robust foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society and a globally competitive knowledge economy [11]. The PDP has been updated to enable the country to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and aims for the country to become better prepared and more resilient to any kind of disaster [12].

The country has developed several policies, laws, and regulations relevant to the environment. These include, among others, the Philippine Environmental Code (Presidential Decree No. 1152); Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System Presidential Decree No. 1586 (1978); Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729); the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change 2010-2022; National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121); Green Building Code of 2016; and the Philippine Green Jobs Act of 2016 (RA 10771) [11].

The Philippine Environmental Code (Presidential Decree No. 1152) establishes the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) as the agency responsible for overseeing all environmental conservation and management issues in the country. It has the mandate to make policy decisions on the environment and natural resources, and to balance development activities with environmental management for sustainable development [13].

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has formulated the Philippine Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production which includes a package of actions with respect to policy and regulation, research and innovation, infrastructure, and education and promotion. It also encompasses the issue of waste management, sustainable business and lifestyles, and efficient use of resources [12].

National context alignement with the EU Green Deal

For the Philippines, a Climate Resilient Green Economy is the Government’s vision for the nation’s development as part of the Philippine National Development Plan 2017-2022, the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change 2010-2022 and the National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028 as well as the National Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Management Plan 2011-2028 [14].

Support to green growth, governance, peace, and poverty alleviation will remain important objectives of the EU's support to the Philippines’ development efforts. This will be fully in line with the European Green Deal, i.e., Europe’s structural response and new growth strategy which puts the EU at the forefront of international efforts to promote economically, environmentally and socially sustainable development to address in particular the climate change crisis. For this reason, EU cooperation with the Philippines for the period 2021-2027 will focus on two priority areas: (i) Green, Resilient Economy and Green Jobs; and (ii) Peaceful and Just Society, Good Governance. Under the first priority, the following sectors offer a coherent avenue of opportunities to contribute to climate action, as well as the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC): (i) Circular Economy and Plastic Waste Management, (ii) Digital connectivity and green digital transformation and (iii) Specific Climate Change (CC) adaptation and mitigation actions [14].

Aligned with these priorities, the Philippine Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production (PAP4SCP), supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), offers a framework for influencing and guiding sustainable practices and actions across sectors and levels of government, by implementing programmed policy reforms and actions over the short- (2020-2022), medium- (2022-2030), and long- (2030-2040) term. The overall goal of the Plan is to enable Filipinos to consume and produce green goods and services for a more sustainable and climate-friendly lifestyle, clearly connected with the European Green Deal [15].  

Following the adoption of the EU Green Deal, the EU is committed to working closely with the Philippines to achieve a digital, resilient, and sustainable recovery following COVID-19, which is aligned with the PDP's aim for more inclusive growth, high trust, and a resilient and globally competitive knowledge economy [16]. The EU is also exploring the possibility of partnering with the Philippines on the use of the Copernicus Programme, which could enhance the Philippines' capacity to develop and use space applications at the central and local levels. The programmes full, free and open data would also aid in enhancing the capacity of governments in terms of agricultural monitoring and early-warning to natural hazards [17]

As a partner of the Philippines, the EU has provided more than €124 million in humanitarian aid over the past 20 years, of which €12 million has been used for disaster response. Most recently, the European Union decided to allocate an initial €1.7 million in humanitarian funding for the provision of emergency assistance to those most affected by typhoon Rai in the Philippines, locally known as typhoon Odette [18].

Key Environmental-Development Challenges

Climate Change

Located in the tropical cyclone belt and the Pacific Rim volcanic belt, the country is highly vulnerable to climate and geological hazards, which are projected to intensify as the climate changes [19]. About 20 tropical cyclones occur per year, as well as frequent earthquakes, which cause an estimated average annual loss of 0.5% of GDP. Additionally, loss and damages due to extreme weather events are increasing rapidly. Damages due to 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan amounted to 4% of the country’s GDP and the consecutive typhoons in October and November 2020 caused - alone - about US$852 million in losses and damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Given that rapid and timely recovery is becoming increasingly difficult, the impact of climate change loss and damage is outstripping the country's ability to cope with climate change shocks [20].

Climate change is also impacting the country's valuable coastal zones, contributing to rising sea levels and destroying mangroves and marine habitats. More than 60% of the coastal population depend on the country’s marine resources for their livelihoods, and coral reefs and mangroves are valued at $2 billion and $83 million per year, respectively, for their contributions to fishing, tourism, and storm protection.



The Philippines is one of the 17 mega-biodiversity countries in the world, containing two-thirds of the planet's biodiversity and 70-80% of the world's plant and animal species. The Philippines is also one of the world's biodiversity loss hotspots, with at least 700 endangered species, making it one of the most important conservation areas in the world. This unique biodiversity is supported by a wide variety of ecosystems, landscapes, and habitats, most of which are heavily threatened by human activities. Biodiversity and ecosystems are key to lifting people out of poverty, contributing to the economy, and strengthening the country’s resilience to climate change. However, over the decades, the Philippines has experienced rapid environmental degradation [21]. The main challenges for the country include indiscriminate logging and mining operations, the burgeoning human population, the over-harvesting of natural resources and infrastructure development [22].


[1] The World Bank (2021). Climate Change Knowledge Portal, For Development of Practitioners and Policy Makers. [Online]. Available:

[2] Germanwatch (2021). GLOBAL CLIMATE RISK INDEX 2021.

[3] UNPF (2021). World Population Dashboard. Philippines. [Online]. Available:

[4] The World Bank (2021). Population estimates and projections. [Online]. Available:

[5] The World Bank Group (2017). Philippines Urbanisation Review, fostering competitive, sustainable and inclusive cities. Full report.

[6] The World Bank (2021). The World Bank in the Philippines - Overview. [Online]. Available:

[7] National Academy of Science and Technology (2016). Harnessing science and technology for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

[8] Climate Change Commission (2011) National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028.

[9] The World Bank (2020) Philippines: New Support to Strengthen National Disaster Risk Management Capacity and Respond to COVID-19. [Online]. Available:

[10] Ambisyon Natin 2040 (2021). [Online]. Available:

[11] The Philippines (2019). The Voluntary National Review of the Philippines

[12] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (2017). Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.

[13] Mindanow (2021). Environmental Laws and Policies. [Online]. Available:

[14] DG INTPA, European Commission (2021). REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Multi-annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027.

[15] Philippines GIIO Report (2020) Green Infrastructure Investment Opportunities. [Online]. Available:

[16] Philstar Global (2020). EU commits to facilitate green recovery policies in Philippines. [Online]. Available:

[17] European Commission, reliefweb (2019). EU Copernicus programme provides full, free and open data that can Aid in tackling El Niño in the country. [Online]. Available:

[18] DG INTPA, European Commission (2021). The Philippines: European Union provides €1.7 million to support those affected by typhoon Rai. [Online]. Available:

[19] Climate Risk Country Profile: Philippines (2021): The World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank.

[20] Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC). Information on Disaster Risk Reduction of the Member Countries. [Online]. Available:

[21] Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). (2016). Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015-2028): Bringing Resilience to Filipino Communities. C. Cabrido (Ed.). Quezon City, Philippines: BMB-DENR, United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility, Foundation for the Philippine Environment.

[22] BMD-PAWB. NewCAPP: Expanding and Diversifying the National System of Terrestrial Protected Areas in the Philippines Project or New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project. Threats to Philippine Biodiversity.