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Keynote Speech: UNFCCC Regional Training Workshop on National Action Plans for Asia

June 13, 2017

Keynote Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
UNFCCC Regional Training Workshop on National Action Plans for Asia
13 June 2017 | Mercure Hotel, Ortigas, Pasig City

 

I believe all of us here today know and agree that we are at risk; we are vulnerable to climate change risks. The signs are all around us. The numbers speak for themselves. It is no longer an issue of taking action, but rather of how much action we need to take.

 

The United States’ pullout from the Paris Agreement poses a new climate challenge, but a single act, based on a misplaced understanding of the causes of one of the greatest risks that face the world today, will ultimately be drowned out by the more passionate voices of people who genuinely care for our future. If there is a silver lining following this announcement from the President of the United States, it is the re-affirmation from other responsible leaders of their commitment to keep fighting against global warming.

 

We all understand the urgency of taking climate action because for us this is a matter of survival. We have already reached the 1°C global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. At this level, we are already experiencing unprecedented extreme weather events—severe droughts, frequent and stronger typhoons, and sea level rise, among other climate change impacts.

 

A study by DARA commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum titled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet, shows that if the world goes business as usual, there will be 6 million deaths per year by 2030, close to 700,000 of which will be due to climate change.

 

The report further states that “a significant share of the global population would be directly affected by inaction on climate change. The global figures mask enormous costs that will, in particular, hit developing countries and above all the world’s poorest groups.”

 

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) faced an average of more than 7% of foregone GDP in 2010 due to climate change and the carbon economy. Over 90% of mortality assessed in the report occurs in developing countries only – more than 98% in the case of climate change. Of all these losses, it is us, lower and middle-income countries, that are most exposed. Our losses of income are already extreme and our development goals, particularly on poverty reduction, will be harder to achieve.

 

Within our respective economies and among us vulnerable nations, we must adapt and mitigate. We need to strengthen the capacities of our governments and apply the whole-of-society approach in integrating responses to climate change within national to local policy frameworks and programs of actions. If we are to make transformative and informative choices concerning climate change specifically adaptation, we need credible and up-to-date science and data.

 

All over the world, more and more nations are mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation in their development policies. There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of climate change laws enacted since 1997, when only 60 such laws were in place. The 2017 update of Climate Change Laws of the World database shows that at least 1,200 relevant policies are now in place in 164 countries.[1]

 

Here in the Philippines, our laws are unequivocal in mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in development plans, programs and budgets at the national and local levels.

 

The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act mandates a paradigm shift from reactive to proactive strategies that will strengthen our defense against disasters. The Philippine Climate Change Act and its amended version creating a People’s Survival Fund mainstream climate change into government policy and urge the private sector to set up counterpart funding for programs and activities in their respective establishments.

 

Even our budget policies reflect strengthened disaster risk reduction and management efforts. Aside from increased allocation for DRR investments in the national budget, what was then the ‘Calamity Fund’ intended for post-disaster activities has been renamed as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and can now be used for preparedness and risk reduction programs. Our government also tags climate change expenditures in the national budget.

 

There has been significant progress from the Executive Branch of the Government of the Philippines in implementing adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction initiatives at the local level, supplemented by a strong support from the Legislature. However, more work needs to be done in terms of comprehensively integrating a low carbon pathway into national socio-economic policies and in strengthening the capacities of key actors in enhancing the resilience of our communities. A “whole-of-nation” approach is needed in employing this action plan.

 

This is why the Philippines is pursuing a transformational strategy by adopting the Sustainable Integrated Area Development Framework (SIAD)—a holistic poverty reduction framework that localizes development by building economies of scale to generate livelihood and other equitable income-generating activities, while addressing climate change and disaster risks, within our communities. This framework harnesses the efforts from the national government, local government units, civil society, private sector, academe, and other stakeholders to collaborate in identifying appropriate project components that would address the needs and risks in a locality.

 

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other climate financing mechanisms could accelerate this transformation. But first, we must ensure that the plans we develop are truly responsive to the scale of the impacts of the climate crisis in our respective shores.

 

This workshop is a good venue to discover opportunities. I encourage you to focus on innovation and to use transformation as your ultimate yardstick. Financing enables ambition, and ambition can and will enable greater finance inflows.

 

We have been bearing the brunt of climate change even if we did not cause it. This is the injustice we have been fighting against. Procrastination has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. It is time to bring the era of inaction to a close. Let our adaptation plans reveal that we are firm in our resolve to deliver on our promise to save this planet for future generations.

 

Thank you.

 

[1] Climate Change Laws of the World, Grantham Research Institute and the Sabin Center, 2017 http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/climate-change-laws-of-the-world/