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Legarda: Accelerate Adaptation Through Local Climate Action

October 17, 2018

Advocacy must be translated into local climate action, said Senator Loren Legarda as she stressed the need to capacitate local governments and communities to accelerate adaptation to climate change impacts.

At the launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA)—jointly headed by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva—Legarda, who is one of the Commissioners along with more than 20 other leaders from around the globe, said that while national policies, financing and convergence across all sectors are needed to address climate change impacts, these should all translate to actual local action.

“Everything that we discuss at the global level would mean nothing if not translated into local action that will be felt by the communities and the people themselves who are affected by the impacts of climate change,” said Legarda.

The Senator said that the GCA should guide nations into realizing that it makes good socio-economic sense to mainstream adaptation and resilience in national budgeting processes, but it should also be implemented by local governments.

“We must also make sure that there is convergence of government’s best practices, public-private sector partnerships, academia and science to work for the most vulnerable and the poorest populations in the world,” she stressed.

At the Stakeholder’s Dialogue, Legarda also shared how the Commission could be effective in accelerating adaptation.

“First is to balance advocacy and action. Once this is achieved and there is sufficient financing, we can scale up and speed up the pace of global climate action. Second is to harmonize fragmented efforts. This Commission will be exceptional if it strives for harmony amid the disarray and fragmentation of global adaptation efforts. Third is to enhance local resilience. The Commission must endeavor to unlock the full potential of countries by enabling them to become adaptation experts. The development of a local climate change action plan is an example of how policies need to find fruition on the ground to build resilience in our communities,” she said.

Legarda said that in the Philippines, the national government continuously capacitates local government units and communities to contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts through National Adaptation grants. This year, four municipalities received close to US$4-Million for multi-year programs on climate-resilient agriculture, ridge to reef disaster risk reduction systems, ecological farming, and a climate field school for farmers and fisherfolk.

At the first meeting of the GCA commissioners, Legarda also explained the importance of doing a national risk assessment, which is critical to the preparation of climate-resilient investment plans.

“From risk assessment, the proper technology can come in, and the right amount of financing—not just in donations but in investments,” she stressed.

The Senator also highlighted strong points raised by the heads of GCA.

Gates said that in committing to adaptation, we must also do the right things, including “investments to accelerate innovation across the sectors for adaptation.”

As Ban stressed the need for urgent adaptation because global warming will continue to manifest and intensify even if countries meet the Paris Agreement goal to keep temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, Georgieva emphasized that adaptation is a development imperative. She also said that “adaptation is fairness” especially to poor communities who did not cause climate change but are the ones greatly affected by its impacts.

Legarda said, the GCA cannot afford to fail and it should make the difference.

“Our Commission must deliver on the expectations of the vulnerable and the poor, not only to become resilient amid climate impacts but also to transition justly our brown economies to green economies and to make all realize the economic and social benefits the pursuit of low carbon development brings to our peoples,” Legarda concluded.

The GCA, which is composed of 17 convening countries and 28 commissioners representing all regions of the globe and all sectors of development and industry, aims to elevate the political importance of climate adaptation and encourage bold solutions to become more resilient to climate-related threats, especially for vulnerable countries and communities.

On its first year, the GCA will oversee the preparation of a flagship report that will be presented at the 2019 UNSG Climate Summit. The report will set out the importance of accelerated adaptation to climate risks, what new actions are needed, what must be done differently, and how governments, companies and citizens can be part of these actions.