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Opening Remarks: Orientation Meeting with State Universities and Colleges on Local Climate Change Action Plans

March 16, 2017

Opening Remarks of Senator Loren Legarda
Orientation Meeting with State Universities and Colleges on Local Climate Change Action Plans
16 March 2017 | Senate of the Philippines

 

I wish to greet all of you a triumphant and hopeful morning!

 

Triumphant because finally we have ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change following the President’s signing of the Instrument of Accession and with the Senate’s unanimous concurrence; hopeful because through this gathering we are taking a vital step towards achieving the goal of a climate-resilient country, and thereby contributing to building a resilient Earth.

 

Let me go straight to the point: our goal is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to survive and thrive. Whether or not a vulnerable developing country like the Philippines can significantly contribute to achieving that goal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction is not the real deal.

 

This has been said many times, our GHG emission is very minute at less than one percent. Even if we become 100% carbon-neutral, it would not change the Earth’s landscape.

 

Yes, that is true. But, it is also true that the world is watching our every move because we have become the face of climate vulnerability. The Philippines is an important voice in the climate talks. The world listens to us. We are regarded the leader of the vulnerable, the champion for climate justice.

 

Now that we have ratified the Paris Agreement, we can influence the decisions on how the accord will be implemented and we maintain our leadership role in the international climate talks and advocacy.

 

Yes, the Philippines is an insignificant contributor of GHG emissions, and so are a hundred other countries. But if a vulnerable developing nation can lead the resilient path, many others would surely follow.

 

We have already proven this when we enacted the Climate Change Law, which is a model legislation for many countries; when we led the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) that pushed for the 1.5 goal in the Paris Agreement; and when we spearheaded the creation of the Vulnerable Twenty group of Ministers of Finance or V20, which works to address climate change more assertively through innovative financing and technology, among many other initiatives.

 

But the test of true leadership is measured on the ground. It is not enough that we are the voice of the vulnerable in the global arena. It is even more important that our own people are climate-engaged and our communities are gearing towards the sustainable path.

 

While Section 14 of Republic Act No. 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009 provides that LGUs shall be the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas, Section 16 of the same law also calls for them to coordinate with various sectors–including the academe, in the development and implementation of LCCAPs.

 

This is where the role of our state universities and colleges becomes crucial. We need to fast track the creation of local climate change action plans (LCCAP) of all cities, municipalities, and provinces in the country. These LCCAPs can be the tools to access grant-based funding from the People’s Survival Fund and even from international climate funds.

 

 

No less than the Department of the Interior and Local Government through its several department circulars has acknowledged the vital role played by the academe as “service providers in terms of training on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation-related concerns, hazard mapping, risk and vulnerability assessment.” As part of its capacity building for LGUs, the DILG has continuously embarked on the training of select state universities and colleges on climate and disaster risk assessment. I am happy to note that through the Local Government Academy, it has formed an academic consortium with one institution per region that will serve as knowledge hubs to “develop and professionalize local disaster risk reduction and management offices (LDRRMOs) and provide local governments with scientific data and pools of local disaster experts and practitioners.”[1]

 

But we know that the vulnerability and risk profile of each community is different, yet we cannot disregard how the vulnerability and risk profile of a region, province, city or municipality would affect that community. In other words, there are no political boundaries when it comes to disaster risks and climate change impacts. Thus, the need for the intervention of SUCs in formulating and enhancing these local plans.

 

With the available historical and cultural information that you already have, and the technical expertise for research and development, you will give the heart and soul to these action plans.

 

We all have to work together, and all of you can become climate warriors.

 

Small towns around the world are already doing their share in the fight against climate change[2]:

 

  • Greensburg in Kansas built back better after it was flattened by a devastating tornado in 2007 and is now running on 100 percent renewable energy;

 

  • In the village of Kalisari in Java, Indonesia, tofu businesses used to throw away the water they use to create tofu. The liquid used to contaminate local water supplies until they turned it into tofu biogas which could replace 62,000 tons of fossil fuels a year;

 

  • In the small British town of Ashton Hayes, residents are working together to make their community carbon-neutral through lifestyle changes such as taking fewer flights, using clotheslines instead of dryers, and improving the insulation in their homes—shrinking their total carbon footprint by 40 percent so far.

 

The Philippines also has many best practices to share.

 

In November last year, during the Climate Change Consciousness Week, the Climate Change Commission announced the winners of the inaugural Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD) Awards for Cities and Municipalities.

 

Ten local government units were awarded for implementing innovative strategies to manage climate and disaster risks in line with Philippine environmental laws. These LGUs are Canaman, Camarines Sur; Carmona, Cavite; Dumangas, Iloilo; Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; Legazpi, Albay; Malolos, Bulacan; New Lucena, Iloilo; Palompon, Leyte; Sorsogon City, Sorsogon; and Tublay, Benguet

 

These examples only show that we can all be part of efforts to fight climate change no matter how small.

 

The more important thing is to show the world that even in the midst of tragedies, we can fuel optimism; even if we are vulnerable, we are not incapable; even if we are victims, we can be victors.

 

Let us triumph over these climate battles so that we ignite hope not only for our fellow but also for the future generations.

 

Thank you.

[1] http://lga.gov.ph/article/academic-research-partners-identify-gaps-assess-capacities-for-disaster-curriculum

[2] Kate Yoder, Meet the tiny towns taking on climate change, 26 October 2016

http://grist.org/living/meet-the-tiny-towns-taking-on-climate-change/