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Message: National Adaptation Plan Expo 2018

April 7, 2018

MESSAGE OF SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA*

National Adaptation Plan Expo 2018

Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt

 

Please find below message of Senator Loren Legarda for “Session 14: Keynote Addresses by National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Champions” at the NAP Expo 2018 on April 6, 2018 in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt.

 

The message was read by Dr. Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal, Minister of Environment of Egypt.

My greetings to all the Delegates and Participants to the National Adaptation Plan Expo 2018 as you now converge in Sharm El Shiekh.

Today, we are past convincing ourselves that “climate change is a common concern of humankind.” The Earth today is more than one degree Celsius hotter than it was in pre-industrial times, and the terrible symptoms of its fever are already showing.

Back-to-back and increasingly severe hurricanes have devastated Pacific and Carribean islands; monsoon flooding has displaced tens of millions in South Asia; and fires have raged on nearly every continent. Pulling the planet back from the brink could not be more urgent.

The Paris Agreement is now in place, and upon its shoulders, we call for higher ambition to keep warming to no higher than the 1.5 degrees Celsius below pre- industrial level temperature threshold for the sake of all vulnerable nations, including my own, the Philippines.

For us, 1.5 isn’t merely a symbolic or “aspirational” number to be plugged into international agreements; it is an existential limit. If global temperatures rise above the 1.5 degrees Celsius level, the places we call home—and many other homes on this planet—will become uninhabitable or even disappear completely.

The Paris Agreement is said to be a “testament of solidarity” and an instrument for global climate action. It provides a platform by which developing and developed countries shall pursue climate action and uphold climate justice together.

It is now time to take this Agreement forward.

The Paris Agreement requires a deep transformation of mindsets and profound changes in our economies if we are to meet its globally agreed goal. Developing nations will always be in a constant state of national loss and reconstruction unless actions are delivered fast.

Just like everyone else, we have strong aspirations for the development of our people, but this does not prevent us from standing with all of you in the global response against climate change.

The Philippines knows from where it speaks, being at the receiving end of extreme weather events almost every year, and on the pathway of 20 typhoons a year on average. We experience El Niño every 2 to 7 years. Sea level rise around the country is three to five times faster than the global average rate.

Typhoon Haiyan may be a distant memory for many, but recent extreme events, like Harvey, Irma, and Maria that have pummeled developed nations, remind us all of our vulnerabilities.

For the Philippines, we embrace adaptation because our lives depends on it. We also pursue mitigation as a function of adaptation.

We rehabilitate our forests not just to increase our carbon sinks, but also reduce disaster risks, since forests serve as natural buffer against landslides, typhoons, and storm surge.

We pursue more aggressive measures to transition to a low carbon economy not only by promoting renewable energy sources but also through energy conservation.

We continuously capacitate our local government units and communities to contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts. This year, four municipalities received close to USD 4 Million (Php 196 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.

All this comes from our own budget, through the People’s Survival Fund (PSF)—the country’s first adaptation finance mechanism dedicated to supporting local climate adaptation efforts.

I expect our government to disburse within the year US$20 million more from the PSF as demand increases from local governments intent on adapting to the rapidly changing climate. But it is not an easy task.

We grapple with long-term challenges posted by climate change spanning several planning cycles, due to an anticipated increase in flooding events and the impact of rising sea levels on our coastal cities. We have to upgrade our market systems, transportation, bridges, ports, food supply, and industrial supply chains in order to cope with episodic extreme weather events and slow onset climate impacts.

To do this, budgeting will be key.

I emphasize budgeting because, in reality, no project or program can even begin to materialize unless there is funding. We cannot build resilience and enhance adaptive capacities if there is no sufficient and continuous funding support.

This is why, for three years in a row, I have ensured that the national budget of the Philippines is a climate- adaptive budget. This task falls on my capacity as the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Philippine Senate, a role that has allowed me, alongside my colleagues in the Senate, to enshrine budget provisions for climate adaptation, such as the establishment of multi-hazard early warning systems, rainwater harvesting, seed banks, mangroves, rooftop gardens, roadside ditches, sea wall, and practice drills for response and preparedness.

We know what we need to do, and we are doing our best to adapt to worsening climate impacts. But we know we lack the resources to do this effectively for the long haul.

Those chiefly responsible for the problem must do more by reducing more dramatically their emissions and phasing out fossil fuels, especially coal, entirely and soon, even as they should drastically increase their financial contributions so that vulnerable countries are more able to cope with the coming impacts.

In line with the theme of our NAP Expo this year, let us advance the good work in capitalizing the Green Climate Fund to support countries in formulating their own NAPs, and in allowing the Adaptation Fund to also service the Paris Agreement.

We need to build in predictability, sustainability and adequacy of finance by providing the requisite mechanisms for the timely delivery of the committed 100 billion USD per year by 2020. A replenishment process for these Funds will also be crucial.

This spirit of cooperation is the foundation upon which we may find lasting solutions.

Thank you and may you leave the NAP Expo with hopeful determination that together, we will overcome the climate and environmental challenges that face us today. (END)

*Senator Loren Legarda is a three-term Senator of the Republic of the Philippines who authored many of the country’s landmark legislation on environment and resilience, including the Climate Change Act, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Renewable Energy Act, and the People’s Survival Fund Law. She chairs the Senate Committees on Finance, Foreign Relations, and Climate Change. She is a UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience and UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Champion.