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Keynote Speech: Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD) Awards for Cities and Municipalities

November 25, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda’s Keynote Speech
Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD) Awards for Cities and Municipalities
25 November 2016 | Sofitel Philippine Plaza

The future communities in the Philippines will vastly differ from the ones we live in today. As we witness the 21st century unfold, our nation faces a new set of technological, socioeconomic and global challenges that are more complex than any of us have ever experienced in our shared history. They dramatically alter the way we live in our communities, and at stake is the quality of life, not only of ours, but of our children.

It is the responsibility of the government, especially local government units (LGUs), to understand these challenges and to take proactive measures that will optimize our nation’s future — to plan, build and
support sustainable communities.

We live in a world with finite resources but Filipinos are very fortunate to inhabit a mega-diverse country with all its 7,107 islands boasting of natural wealth.

However, development activities like land degradation, overgrazing and deforestation, pollution, overfishing, hunting, infrastructure development, land-use change, and the overuse of freshwater, have
pushed ecosystems to the limit and our country has become one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species threatened with extinction.

Further endangering the precarious situation of our country’s biodiversity is the challenge of climate change. Among the projected impacts of climate change is the loss of thousands of species as well as
changes in the natural ecosystem.

Climate change is also causing sea level rise that threatens to submerge our coastal towns. At risk are 64 coastal provinces, 822 coastal municipalities, 25 major coastal cities and approximately 13.6 million Filipinos that need to be relocated away from danger zones.

Ocean acidification is causing irreversible damage to our coral reefs. With global warming of up to 2 degrees Celsius, 98 percent of coral reefs will die by 2050. Moreover, sudden shifts from hot temperatures
to incessant rains pose uncertainties to agriculture, greatly affecting our food security. Extreme rainfall and heat, heavy floods, and constant changes in weather pose great threat to lives, health,
livelihood and development.

Humans have been given the vital role as stewards of the Earth. But we all know that in order to keep our planet healthy, livable and sustainable, all of us must work together, otherwise, our children will
be left with nothing.

I am glad that we are ending this year’s Climate Change Consciousness Week on a high note as we recognize ten cities and municipalities that have been faithful to their stewardship roles by strengthening community resilience to disasters and climate change. It is critical that the increased attention, interest, and sense of urgency in responding to the challenges posed by climate change and disaster
risks are translated to local actions that effectively reduce disaster vulnerability.

For disaster risks, by all indications, are increasing exponentially. The fusion of socio-economic realities and extreme climatic events has confounded gallant attempts by governments. We cannot, however, be caught off-balanced and be discouraged. Instead, we must strive to match our best intentions and expressed commitment with scaled up efforts in reducing disaster and climate risks.

The increasing trend of disaster risk in the country called for innovative, holistic and comprehensive approach to reducing disaster and climate risks and to managing disaster impacts. Thus, at the legislative front, we had addressed this serious problem through the passage of relevant and responsive laws for disaster risk reduction and climate change actions. We have the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the Climate Change Act, and the People’s Survival Fund Law.

The implementation of these laws is the challenge to local government units (LGUs). The role of local leaders to drive and push these initiatives into greater success and benefits to the communities is
crucial. Winning the fight against disaster and climate change depends highly on you.

It is on this note that I commend the LGUs that we will award today for implementing innovative strategies to manage climate and disaster risks in line with our environmental laws. You will be our models for resilience. We should tell and retell your success stories for other local communities to emulate.
You will be climate champions who will share your experiences with other LGUs so they too will make their cities and municipalities climate and disaster-resilient.

Our message is clear: We have to make our communities safer, sustainable, resilient, and always prepared for every natural hazard.

Together, we will encourage other LGUs to increase investments in disaster risk reduction, conduct and share risk assessments, establish effective and efficient early warning systems, and protect ecosystems.
We will urge local leaders to build homes, schools, and hospitals that are safe and secure amidst natural hazards; design and construct roads, bridges and other infrastructure that help spur economic growth but
with disaster risk reduction in mind.

We should all work together to pursue development that is sustainable and economic growth that is resilient.

Closest to the people, local government leaders have the privilege to translate national policies, plans and programs into concrete and visible actions for the people. Much is expected from you by the
people and I congratulate you for governing with effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation policies.

You have embraced the opportunity to make a difference for our future. The continuing challenge is not only to sustain your efforts but also to encourage other communities to redefine development, to lead
the way towards meaningful change—change in the way we think, change in the way we live, and change in the way we pursue the development and the future we long for—for our children and grandchildren, for all of humanity, for all species in the world, for our own survival, and for the only planet we call home.

Thank you.