Message of Senator Loren Legarda: Following Up President Macron & President Marcos Conversation in New York

October 6, 2022

Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Invitation of H.E. Michéle Boccoz, French Ambassador to the Philippines and Micronesia:
Following Up President Macron & President Marcos Conversation in New York
6 October 2022

Bon après-midi Madam Ambassador Michéle Boccoz! Good afternoon!

It is an honor to be here, as we recognize our countries’ continued partnership in the areas of climate change and sustainable development. Indeed, France and the Philippines have always been partners in climate action. I remember back in 2015 when former French President Hollande visited the Philippines. The issue of climate change was a priority agenda. We visited Yolanda-affected communities in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, organized a climate change forum, and then laid the first stone for climate change by initiating a joint statement on climate action. That instrument was jointly signed by then Presidents Hollande and Aquino, and I read it side by side with Oscar Award Winning French actress Marion Cotillard in Malacañang.

Once again, Presidents Macron and Marcos have made it clear that we need better governance of the global commons- climate, biodiversity, the ocean, and the high seas, all of which are our common heritage. The world has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic; we are now facing a food security crisis and the worsening impacts of climate change. The stakes today could not be higher. But as I always say, we can transform a crisis into an opportunity. And this, we are doing today. Today, we are grateful for the resolve, the cooperation, and the solidarity of government, business, and stakeholders, and we are exploring the ways we can forge ahead.

I would especially like to thank the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement) and the Asian Development
Bank (ADB) for your investments in ocean health and the blue economy. Your project focuses on two issues close to my heart: to promote cleaner oceans through the reduction of plastics and other pollutants; and to ensure marine resource sustainability and livelihood security in coastal communities.

I was disheartened to know that the Philippines is one of the world’s worst offenders of marine plastic pollution. Annually, 0.28 to 0.75 million tonnes per year of plastic enter our oceans from coastal areas in Manila Bay. The country uses almost 60 billion sachets a year.¹
We generate an estimated 43,684 tonnes of garbage daily, including 4,609 tonnes of plastic waste.²

This is unacceptable. As the author of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, we have integrated and comprehensive policies for
plastic waste management. The local governments are mandated to manage waste and litter. And yet, despite these, we are on the list of nations with major waste leakage and plastic pollution problems.

I am hoping that with your support, you can continue to pioneer and support programs that reduce marine plastic pollution, including
integrated solid waste management projects. My hope is for projects that follow circular economy principles, such as designing out plastic waste, promoting clean rivers and waterways, recycling, and improving wastewater management.

I also appreciate your work on sustainable coastal and marine development. Despite our country being an archipelago rich in resources, our country suffers from food insecurity. Our fishers in the coastal villages face a range of environmental challenges due to coastal erosion, mangrove destruction, the endangered species trade, and overfishing. What is needed are support services to improve the socio-economic conditions of coastal fishing communities, with consideration for gender and ecological supply chains. As an archipelagic nation, fisheries are essential to the country’s economy in terms of food security and employment. Over a million Filipinos are engaged in marine fishing. And yet, we fail to give the most support to small-scale fisheries where livelihoods are under the most immediate pressure from marine resource competition and degradation.

I acknowledge your collaboration to further protect the oceans and preserve and promote the sustainable use of this precious natural resource. Indeed, what we need is for the country to be able to make use of innovative financing that can accelerate and scale up projects such as coastal protection, sustainable fisheries, and plastics in wastewater. Once again, thank you for this renewed climate partnership between the Philippines and France. The economic crisis, COVID-19, and political instability will not weaken our commitment to address global environmental and climate challenges. Let us forge ahead and work towards healthier oceans and sustainable livelihoods for our coastal communities.

Merci. Salamat at magandang hapon.