Nine years after Haiyan: Guiuan leads in stronger climate action

GUIUAN, EASTERN SAMAR–In commemoration of the ninth anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the local government of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, the first municipality battered by the super typhoon in 2013, gathered together youth groups, teachers, and civil society organizations, to deepen their understanding of climate science and adaptation, empowering Guiuananon citizens to do their part in making the community more resilient.

“We survived as a community. We were aided by many and we progressed continually in the aftermath. This year, let us look into the past, not only to grieve or to be proud of how far we have gone since that fateful day, but let us look at the past to inspire our future,” said Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan in a speech yesterday.

This year marks the first Golden Cowrie Climate Action Awards provided by the municipality, which was named after a threatened shell (Cypraea aurantium) found in Philippine coastal waters. The LGU launched the award to recognize climate action efforts of individuals and local groups in Guiuan, covering the areas of research, community empowerment and education, ecosystem and wildlife conservation, and sustainable development.

“Today is a wonderful opportunity to meet the heroes of Guiuan. You have shown the world after Haiyan that you are a resilient community, a testimony of courage and spirit. It should inspire other local governments in the Philippines,” said Filipina climate scientist and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) climate science advisor Lourdes Tibig in a message of solidarity.

As governments and international organizations gather in Egypt from November 6 to 18 for the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), Tibig said “the leadership shown by Guiuan to adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change are truly worth honoring at the global level.” Adaptation and financing for loss and damage brought by climate change to vulnerable countries are at the center of debates raging in COP27.

The Guiuan awards were given as part of the two-day event “Rig-on (resilient in Waray): Klima Eskwela,” a knowledge exchange organized by ICSC, The Climate Reality Project Philippines, and Agam Agenda in partnership with the local government. The event gave participants insights about the latest climate science in Southeast Asia and the implications of slow-onset events, particularly rising seas in their town. The rate of sea level rise on the eastern seaboard is thrice that of the global average.

Youth representatives from high schools in Guiuan wrote pieces for the global poetry and arts campaign “When Is Now” of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, ICSC, and the Agam Agenda, highlighting the importance of arts and the humanities in climate action. Artists from Guiuan also began a mural today near the shores of the town as part of the Poets for Climate project of the branches of Climate Reality in the Philippines, Africa, and Canada.

“Climate action will not be possible without leadership from key actors in the international, national, and local levels, especially the youth,” said ICSC senior climate governance analyst Danica Marie Supnet.

“Even if you are not a scientist, a policymaker, or a development worker, you still have a story to share and it needs to be told. Climate change knows no boundaries and we are all in this together. We are using poetry, we are telling our stories, and we are using art to bridge connections and break down any existing boundaries in action,” said Padmapani Perez, lead strategist of the Agam Agenda.


This article was written and originally published by ICSC.



[1] The Guiuan Development Foundation Inc., who leads the research and development of the town’s marine protected areas, is featured at the COP27 Virtual Ocean Pavilion. To register, visit


[2] Guiuan is also working on making their long-term development plans more gender-responsive. The Guiuan Recovery and Sustainable Development Group for Resilience (GRSDGR), in partnership with ICSC, led several capacity-building workshops to integrate gender in the LGU’s climate adaptation plan and comprehensive land use plan.


[3] Poets for Climate supports the global poetry and arts campaign “When Is Now.” To date, it has generated more than 60 poems from around 40 climate advocates across the globe and unveiled murals in the cities of Johannesburg in South Africa, Montreal in Canada, and Iloilo and Isabela in the Philippines to demand for urgent action among global leaders in COP27. Read more here