SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Report on the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
18 March 2015 | Senate Session Hall
I have the honor to report to this chamber key issues discussed at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which concludes today in Sendai, Japan.
This is a once a decade conference where nations chart a new course towards resilience, adopting a new framework intended to guide nations towards addressing disaster risks to effectively reduce vulnerability to natural hazards.
Ten years ago, the Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted by 168 countries at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, putting a spotlight on the need to shift our approach from disaster relief and response to building the resilience of communities to disasters.
Among the five priority actions of the HFA, making disaster risk reduction a policy priority and strengthening institutions has progressed the most. However, translating policies into action is a different issue altogether.
Prior to the official opening of the 3rd WCDRR, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the UNISDR organized a Parliamentary Meeting on Governance and Legislation for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 March 2015.
Fifty parliamentarians from 22 countries present in the meeting recognized the need to fill in the gap in the implementation of DRR laws and we commit to the following actions in support of the post-2015 framework for DRR:
- Obtain the highest level of political support for the post-2015 framework for DRR;
- Strengthen legislative framework to support a paradigm shift towards risk-sensitive and resilient development;
- Support improved institutional set up for governing of DRR;
- Promote local capacity building;
- Establish strong oversight to enhance accountability; and,
- Enhance parliamentary cooperation for DRR.
Part of these commitments is introducing legislation to strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS), which is a more holistic and integrated approach to early warning as it promotes public awareness and understanding of impacts and risks from natural hazards, and guides the people and sectors at risk in making decisions and taking early actions.
Legislation in strengthening MHEWS could ensure that early warning services reach the ‘last mile’ such as the most remote and vulnerable populations, providing them with timely, meaningful and actionable warning information.
Another key issue in the DRR Conference is the role of women.
Among the High Level Dialogues in the conference, I was tasked to co-chair with Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs Sanae Takaichi the High-Level Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogue on Mobilizing Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.
In his keynote speech, Prime Minister Abe said, “In order for us to create a society that is truly resilient and able to withstand natural disasters, it is essential that we make women the driving force behind such efforts.”
We want the post-2015 DRR framework to be a tool towards a dramatic shift in the degree and scope of women’s involvement in climate change and disaster risk reduction efforts—from the quiet but steady work they perform in their communities, women should move into the frontlines of delivering decisive action towards sustainable and resilient communities.
There is a need for social inclusion of women and girls, including our indigenous women, in all DRR efforts.
There is a need for gender sensitivity in DRR, whether it is in refugee camps or evacuation centers, or even in organizing local DRR efforts.
There is a need to mainstream gender equality in all aspects of DRR, such as providing women equal access to education and information, which will actually empower them, and giving women access to quality reproductive health care, as well as access to resources and financial capital for DRR. As legislators, we can actually do this and mainstream this in our annual appropriations.
There is a need to address all forms of gender-based sexual violence, including sexual harassment in crowded evacuation centers and trafficking in disaster-stricken areas.
There is a need for an impact-based forecast and a risk-informed warning, a multi-hazard early warning system that must be accessible and understood by women and girls, possibly even in their own local languages.
There is a need to acknowledge women not just as a vulnerable sector, but as frontliners in defense and leaders in the battle against disaster risk and climate change.
Finally, the convergence between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation towards the attainment of our sustainable development goals will only be achieved with the synergy of talent, skills and effort between and among men and women.
Other members of the Philippine Delegation have participated in several public dialogues, ministerial roundtables and plenary meetings. The 3rd WCDRR was an opportunity for the country to convey the lessons of past disasters and share best practices in the world forum, and help define both local and global actions to reduce disaster losses in the next decade or so.
Through the Philippine Official Statement, which this representation was honored to deliver, we declared our commitment to DRR. We shared with the world how amidst our vulnerability, the Philippines has been undertaking serious efforts to building resilience by adhering to the HFA.
Today, the global community will adopt a new framework that will define our actions for the next ten years. We should take a proactive role in ensuring that the next set of priority actions would actually lead to a more resilient and sustainable planet.
In my breakfast meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he sought my help and that of the other DRR Champions of Europe, Africa and Latin America to raise the level of awareness on resilience.
Through our individual efforts and collective action, let us prove that our nation indeed remains steadfast in its commitment to continue working for safer, sustainable, climate change-adaptive and disaster-resilient communities aimed towards building a stronger nation and world.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Reducing Vulnerability and Exposure to Disasters: The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2012