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Keynote Speech: Inaugural Experts’ Forum of the National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) of the Climate Change Commission

September 18, 2017

Keynote Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Inaugural Experts’ Forum of the National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) of the Climate Change Commission
“Linking Science, Policy, and Practice for Climate and Disaster Resilience”
18 September 2017 | SMX Convention Center, Pasay City

Allow me first to thank the Climate Change Commission and Oscar M. Lopez Center for organizing and for having me in this event. What a wonderful idea it is to hold a special series of forums that are led by no less than our climate change and disaster risk experts from the academe, research organizations, and the government.

Let me also thank each and everyone of you here today for taking the time to learn more about climate change and its impacts on our loved ones and our future. I hope that even after this event you would continue heeding the call for greater climate action.

Our gathering today manifests one important matter: Climate change should not be addressed in isolation, but through an effective collaboration of our efforts, from different fields and specializations, towards ensuring the safety of our people amid the realities we are facing because of climate change.

Our inaugural forum today is entitled “Linking Science, Policy, and Practice for Climate and Disaster Resilience,” that our climate action, through policy reforms and project implementations, should be guided by the results and analyses that we gather from various scientific undertakings.

I firmly believe in this approach, too. It is important for us to recognize the value of science and academic work in understanding climate and disaster risks and informing policy and practice to develop effective climate change initiatives for climate financing and implementation.

Such is the case in our goal for all of our 1,710 local government units to have their own science-based Local Climate Change Action Plan or LCCAP.

As mandated by Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009—which I principally authored and which created the Climate Change Commission—all local government units must formulate their own LCCAP. This aids our LGUs to effectively prepare and respond to the effects of climate change in their respective communities.

LCCAPs are not just a simple document that LGUs submit for mere compliance. It is the intention of our LCCAPs to incorporate risk assessment and understanding into local development planning processes and systems.

At the heart of it is a strong consideration to climate science and data borne out of tedious research and understanding of the prevailing risks within a particular community. This approach should then inform policies and practices for strategic adaptation and mitigation initiatives to be undertaken and to be prioritized by our LGUs within their respective communities.

If we would reach the target of all LGUs having their own science-based LCCAPs, I believe, this would unlock our path towards a sustainable and climate-resilient nation.

It is in this regard that I ask all of our experts, all of our members of the academe, universities, and colleges who are here today to be more active in local development planning. It is our social responsibility to take part in efforts that will safeguard our society from the ill effects of climate change.

Moreover, in all our discussions about climate action we should always contextualize it to access to climate finance. It always leads to climate finance, especially for a vulnerable country like ours, where adaptation projects and programs are very much needed in every city and municipality.

While being your Chair of the Senate Committee of Climate Change, I am also the Chair of the Committee on Finance. And this is why climate finance is one aspect that I am passionate about.

However, Philippine access to both local and international climate finance remains a big challenge. We are still not accessing the multi-billion dollar Green Climate Fund, which is one of the entities of the Financial Mechanism of the Paris Agreement.

Moreover, our local government units and civil society organizations also encounter difficulty in drafting sound and quality project proposals for funding to the People’s Survival Fund—an annual appropriation of P1-billion pesos in the national government’s budget for climate change adaptation.

Republic Act No. 10174, which created the People’s Survival Fund, was enacted in 2011. It was an amendatory law to the Climate Change Act of 2009. Even though the PSF Law was issued in 2011, our first call for project proposals for PSF funding was only in 2015, and since then, only the PSF Board has only approved four project proposals from our local government units and civil society organizations.

This is a major concern that I share with the Climate Change Commission for the main reason that our local government units—our frontliners during climate disasters—are not utilizing this readily available budget for enhancing our nation’s resilience against climate change.

The PSF is unprecedented, after all. It is the first of its kind in the world, and our LGUs and CSOs are perhaps not yet acquainted with it. On the other hand, we are falling behind our neighboring countries as regards accessing the Green Climate Fund. We have yet to submit a full-blown proposal for GCF funding, while Vietnam, Bangladesh, Peru, and India have approved projects already.

It would seem that we are not taking advantage of all these sources of climate funds, which we could be using right now for various climate change projects and programs, as well as trainings, workshops, and any other initiatives to enhance our capacities.

This is one other aspect that I think the government should work closely with the members of academe and various research organizations.

Climate finance is not a dole-out. We have to understand that. Developing project proposals for climate financing should reflect our communities’ needs and illustrate how these projects could transform the lives of the people within those communities.

And in order to paint the whole picture, we need to assess our risks, and use this to identify the specific projects and programs that we would need to address these vulnerabilities.

May it be an establishment of a rainwater catchment, waste management facility, or early warning systems, no project is simple or difficult. As long as these projects are for the protection of our environment and the lives and livelihoods of our people, they are worth undertaking.

Thank you very much.