Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Top Leaders Forum 2015: AR!SE Philippines Launch
10 November 2015 | SMX Convention Center
Globally, economic losses due to disasters are taking a toll on development. These losses will continue to escalate unless disaster risk reduction and management becomes integral to national development plans and business investment strategies.
In its Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015, the United Nations said that economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of US$250 billion to US$300 billion annually.
The UN cautions that investment in infrastructure and built environment is expected to increase over the next 40 years than has occurred over the last 4 millennia. This represents a challenge for disaster risk reduction as investment decisions take into greater account opportunities for short-term profits rather than concerns for future sustainability. When more investments flow into hazard-prone areas, the value of exposed economic assets significantly increases.
While the occurrence of some natural hazards may be inevitable, they need not turn into disasters. Their impact on our society and economy could be reduced, if not prevented, and our development gains preserved, if risk reduction is done right.
Policies play an important role in our development initiatives since they provide the framework that will guide us towards a uniform goal—that is, sustainable and resilient growth.
Here in our country, our policies engage the strong support of the private sector in realizing these goals. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act encourages participation from the private sector in carrying out a disaster risk reduction and management approach that is holistic, comprehensive, integrated and proactive in lessening the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of disasters including climate change.
The Climate Change Act and its amended version creating a People’s Survival Fund with an annual Php 1 Billion fund, mainstream climate change into government policy and urge the private sector to set up counterpart funding for programs and activities that will introduce or strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation in their respective establishments or communities.
We also call for more investments in low emissions development strategy through the Renewable Energy Act. Clean technologies play an invaluable role in sustainable development. The Philippines has an estimated 246,000 megawatts of potential renewable energy resources that remain untapped.
On March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), was adopted during the Third UN World Conference on DRR in Sendai, Japan. The new framework gives primary importance to understanding disaster risk, which is very important in determining appropriate solutions and actions.
Last September in New York, the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by UN member states, and in December, we shall expect a new global climate action agreement following the UN climate negotiations in Paris.
These three global frameworks must be implemented holistically through a whole-of-society approach and with emphasis on local-based action. All government projects, including those foreign funded, must be aligned with the new international frameworks for development.
Prior to the climate talks in Paris, which aims to get the collective commitment of nations to limit global warming to below 2°C, we, in the Senate, are already aligning the government’s budget for 2016 with these global frameworks.
In fact, for the current 2015 national budget, the allocation for climate-tagged programs, activities and projects amounts to Php129 Billion. This is still a small amount, but we have to start somewhere.
Since we must use a whole-of-society approach in disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation and sustainable development, the role of the private sector is very much important.
It is on this note that I congratulate the global business sector for working with the UNISDR to launch the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (or AR!SE) that will guide the private sector in implementing business initiatives and solutions in line with the Sendai Framework for DRR.
I salute the timely launch of AR!SE Philippines and I encourage all private companies and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to be part of this endeavor.
We can ensure our economic resilience by reducing disaster risks, letting investors be aware of it, and requiring business investments to take into account disaster risk reduction and management measures.
The United Nations said economic losses from disasters are “out of control.” We should reverse this situation. Resilience should be at the core of our development policies and strategies. In climate and disaster risks, there may be no second chances.