The United Nations reported that over the past two decades, the number of recorded disasters has doubled from approximately 200 to over 400 per year. Nine out of every ten of these disasters are said to be climate-related.
Disasters do not only abound. They have also become deadlier. And with climate change, the country is foreseen to suffer stronger typhoons, sea level rise, more flashfloods, more devastating droughts and increased incidence of water and vector-borne diseases.
And to the highest leader of our land I have a few messages:Without early adaptive action, the continued annual rise in sea levels can decimate the livelihood of entire Filipino coastal communities irretrievably and, through the intrusion of saltwater, irrevocably damage countless farms.
Without urgent climate action, persistent increases in temperature in many Philippine regions can irreparably destroy soil and crop productivity and cause the slow, irreversible death of our coral reefs.
Without concerted effort, changes in average rainfall can inundate and cause the collapse of local economies. Regions such as Southern Tagalog and the Bicol region may become wetbeds of misery defined by crop failures and aggravated impoverishment.
These are just some of the non-episodic impacts of the climate crisis, which are projected to both amplify the effects of wrong development policies and which can, in all too many cases, represent immediate and long-term calamities to localities unprepared for changes in the world’s climate.
Climate change poses immediate and long-term threats to the well-being of our people. It may very well undermine our most basic development aspirations. Without decisive responses from leaders today, it will certainly increase by several magnitudes the burden carried by vulnerable Filipinos, particularly women in poor communities, who have contributed least to the global problem.
In the midst of these challenges, we may ask ourselves, “What are we doing about this?”
If there is one indisputable fact, it is that our communities continue to be vulnerable. Unabated urbanization, growing concentration of people in unsafe urban settlements and exposed coastal areas, poverty, to name a few, continue to put our people in harm’s way.
A major stumbling block to our efforts has been the less than serious efforts at the community level to undertake adaptation measures because resources are scarce. Where these resources are available, they are used for anything but measures to help our people adapt to climate change realities.
For many, climate change is an abstract concept, understood only when disasters strike.
This brings me to the core of the measure I bring before this Chamber for consideration. The ill effects of a changing climate can be prevented if we consider climate change adaptation not as a cost but a wise investment.
It is not for us to stop natural hazards for that is God’s domain; but it is certainly within our power to make sure that institutions established to serve our people on the ground are given the means to create safer and more resilient societies.
No conscientious leader would want to see the poor and most vulnerable constantly drawn back by disasters into abject poverty for lack of government action.
No responsible politician would want the government to waste millions on public infrastructure that can be instantly destroyed by floods.
As national leaders, we have the mandate to introduce change and to ensure that it happens.
The lessons of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 have taught us that we should not train our sights merely on enhancing our capacities merely to respond, recover, and re-build after each and every disaster. We cannot content ourselves with merely reacting to disasters. We need to build and maintain the ability of our communities to manage climate realities effectively. To achieve this, we need to strengthen capacities of our communities and those who live in it to recognize and reduce the risks themselves.
To do this, we need to be proactive if we are to win against disaster and climate change.
In October 2009, our country adopted the Climate Change Act, which I principally authored and sponsored. This legislative milestone mandates the mainstreaming of climate change into policy formulation and poverty reduction strategies, and provides the framework strategy on climate change. The law places the local governments in the frontline of the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas. It also created the Commission on Climate Change. This body is tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of the government relating to climate change.
Considered a legislative model by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, our Climate Change Act puts our country in the global map for having set a global benchmark for policy-setting.
Now it is time to further strengthen our Climate Change policy with a complementing policy on climate finance. This will bring into fruition our climate change strategies, plans, and programs in ways that will allow us to tailor these within the context of local, community-based realities. Doing so also recognizes the risks brought about by the glacial pace by which the international climate treaty negotiations have been undertaken. From the disappointing Copenhagen round of talks in 2009 and the dismal outcome of the 2010 Cancun meeting, it is clear that we must take stronger domestic steps and focus on supporting those standing at the frontline of the climate crisis – local governments and communities.
Mr. President, it is time to create further progress in our efforts. The first step begins here in our Chamber. The swift and unanimous approval of the measure I present before the Chamber today will provide resources that will support ground-level work of local governments and communities.
This proposal is anchored on the fact that we need to decentralize responsibilities and resources for climate change efforts. It is time we provide the means to motivate local participation and create programs that matter to our people.
The Committee on Climate Change, jointly with the Committees on Ways and Means, and Finance, submits for this Chamber’s consideration, Senate Bill 2811 titled “An Act Establishing the People’s Survival Fund to Provide Long-Term Finance Streams to Enable the Government to Effectively Address the Problem of Climate Change, Amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 9729, otherwise known as “The Climate Change Act of 2009″, and for other purposes”.
Senate Bill 2811 seeks to create a People’s Survival Fund, as a special trust fund for the financing of adaptation programs and projects based on the National Strategic Framework and the National Climate Change Action Plan.
The fund shall be sourced from public sources, foreign or local, including but not limited to the following:
(a) ten percent (10%) from cash dividends declared by all government-owned and controlled corporations;
(b) five percent (5%) of the proceeds from the sale of certified or verified emissions reduction carbon credits generated from domestic activities; and
(c) ten percent (10%) of the monies collected under Republic Act 8794, otherwise known as the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge.
As seed money for the fund, a one-time allocation in the amount of fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) will be allotted from the President’s Contingency Fund.
The fund may also receive private donations.
It shall be suppletory to any annual appropriations allocated by relevant government agencies for climate change-related programs and projects and by LGUs.
The Fund shall also encourage counterpart funding arrangements among local governments, community organizations, the private sector, and other entities.
It shall be used to support local governments’ adaptation activities, in the areas of: water resources management, land management, agriculture and fisheries, health, infrastructure development, natural ecosystems including mountainous and coastal ecosystems; improvement of the monitoring of vector-borne diseases triggered by climate change, and in this context, improving disease control and prevention; forecasting and early warning systems as part of preparedness for climate-related hazards; supporting institutional development, for local governments, for preventive measures, planning, preparedness and management of impacts relating to climate change, including contingency planning, in particular, for droughts and floods in areas prone to extreme climate events; strengthening existing, and where needed, establish regional centers and information networks for rapid response to extreme climate events; serving as a guarantee for risk insurance needs for farmers, agricultural workers and other stakeholders; and community adaptation support programs by local organizations accredited by the Commission.
A People’s Survival Fund Board, lodged under the Commission on Climate Change, will be created to approve project proposals submitted by local government units and community-based institutions for funding.
The Board shall be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Finance as chair, Vice-chairperson of the Commission on Climate Change, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority, Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, a representative from the business sector, and a representative from the NGOs, to provide overall strategic guidance in the management and use of the fund.
The Climate Change Office, created per RA 9729, shall evaluate and review the project proposals, and, with the concurrence and endorsement of a majority of the climate change commissioners appointed by the President, recommend approval of project proposals to the PSF Board.
The Commission will uphold the highest standards of transparency and ensure public access to information to widen the reach and impact of our climate change policies.
For the sound and judicious management of the Fund, the Commission, upon recommendation of the PSF board, shall appoint a government financial institution, with sound track record on fund management, as portfolio manager and trustee of the fund.
There is no substitute for national and local government budget that are climate change-adaptive. Support cannot come in fragments. Efforts will not be sustainable if resources are provided in bits and pieces. Huge problems that threaten the survival of our country cannot be confronted with chump change.
The creation of the People’s Survival Fund, as proposed, will allow us to pole-vault toward ensuring disaster- and climate change-resilient communities.
I exhort this Chamber to support the measure.
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Senate Bill No. 2811, Committee Report No. 34 People’s Survival Fund