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League of Municipalities of the Philippines

December 5, 2012

Keynote Speech
League of Municipalities of the Philippines
December 05, 2012

A 4-degree Celsius world may have seemed impossible twenty years ago, but today, the World Bank warns that we are in fact nearing a crisis that if not responded to proactively, will continue to endanger the survival of this and the next generation. [1]

According to the World Bank report, the impacts of a 4-degree Celsius global temperature would likely happen if nations do not comply with their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This degree of change in climate would increase sea level by up to 3 feet. Furthermore, it would cause flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions are expected to become dryer while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones, and loss of biodiversity.

If global mean temperatures exceed 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, 30% of all species will face high risk of extinction. [2]

Furthermore, due to changes in temperature, rain fall and sea level, crop yield is estimated to decline by 19% in Asia toward the end of the century, and rice yield, by about 75%. A 2 to 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperature will also lead to a 3% decline in global GDP.

Unequivocally, we can feel the effects of a changing climate, and it is imperative that we work together to minimize these risks.

As I speak today, Typhoon Pablo is still wreaking havoc in many parts of the country.
As of 6:00 a.m. today, fifteen (15) persons were reported dead and thirty (30) were reported injured, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Seventeen thousand, six hundred seventy-eight (17,678) families or 86,912 persons are currently inside 162 evacuation centers. They also reported a total of 4,963 stranded passengers. Furthermore, 527 rolling cargoes, 152 vessels, and 59 motor bancas were stranded in ports all over the Philippines.

Typhoon Pablo, like Sendong, Ondoy, and many other natural hazards, test our resilience as a people and compel us, especially those of us in government, to implement our laws better in order to alleviate the suffering of our people.

Here in our country, through the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which I both authored, proactive climate change and disaster preparedness measures were legislated. In the Philippine Senate, we have institutionalized a Committee on Climate Change, which I chair, to ensure the implementation of laws as well as the sustainability of initiatives for climate change adaptation.

We have also successfully ushered the passage of the People’s Survival Fund Law, and we hope it will be funded in the 2013 General Appropriations Act. I am also relentlessly pushing for the full implementation of our major environmental laws: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Renewable Energy Act.
But without LGUs, these laws will not be implemented efficiently and effectively.
Risk awareness and political will are very important. For instance, you as members of LGUs, know best the disaster-prone areas based on your geo-hazard maps. Coupled with early warning mechanisms, we should be able to save thousands or even millions of lives and properties.

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. This is why we must work hand in hand.

Filipinos today demand good governance. Let me assure you that governing with effective disaster risk reduction is certainly a mark of good local governance.

Now is the time to face bravely the many challenges ahead. The fusion of socio-economic realities and extreme climatic events demand scaled up efforts in reducing disaster and climate risks. Through concerted action and the participation of all citizens, we will be able to make it through these challenges.

Thank you very much.

[1] [2] United Nations