Keynote Address of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda Ocean and Climate Change— Contribution of the Space Technology December 6, 2019 | Japan Pavilion, Feria de Madrid

December 6, 2019

Good morning to our distinguished guests; colleagues; ladies; and gentlemen.

I thank the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (OPRI-SPF) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for this honor and privilege to speak in this event.

In 2016, the Philippines made history, as our very first Filipino-designed and -assembled microsatellite, called Diwata-1, was launched into space. Two years later, its sibling, Diwata-2, was sent into orbit. A nanosatellite, called Maya-1, was also deployed into space in 2018.

The development of these satellites was made possible through the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite Program (PHL-MICROSAT), which is acollaboration among the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the University of the Philippines, and partners from the Hokkaido and Tohoku Universities,with the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) as the monitoring agency.

Maya-1 was further developed under the Kyushu Institute of Technology’s (Kyutech) 2nd Joint Global Multination Birds Project (Birds-2), which assists non-space-faring countries in building their own miniature satellites.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was of course very instrumental in facilitating these satellites’ deployment into space.

Diwata-1 is built to undertake scientific earth observation missions related to weather observation, environmental monitoring and disaster risk management. Diwata-2 also captures satellite images to support the determination ofextent of damages from disasters, monitoring of changes in vegetation, monitoring of natural and cultural heritage sites, and observation of cloud patterns and weather disturbances.

Maya-1 functions as a low-cost observation satellite, but is also able to capture images and collect sensor data in various remote areas.

Captured satellite images are transmitted to a Ground Receiving Station called the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation or PEDRO. Since its inception, PEDRO has archived and provided over 1,300 images to various government agencies to monitor the conditions of typhoons, landslides, and forest fires.

The development of these satellites was, to some, costly,considering the funding may be allocated for other humanitarian and development challenges that thePhilippines faces. But our Science and Technology ministry was able to explain that investing on our own satellites would be more efficient, as the Philippines spends 45.1 million US dollars a year in satellite imagery.

With our very own satellites, we are now able to capture satellite data and target a particular location in our country, allowing us further to understand our vulnerabilities as a nation, especially in light of the intensifying effects of climate change.

The Philippines is located in the western side of the Pacific, making our archipelagic country naturally exposed to tropical cyclones and storm surges.

Four major cities of the Philippines—Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Puerto Princesa—are all located in coastal areas. The majority of our country’s more than a hundred million population also reside within 60 km off the coast.

Filipinos have one of the highest per capita fish consumption of 23 to 43 kg/year. Fisheries and associated livelihoods are main drivers of our economy.

Sea level rise is bringing about extensive coastal land use changes, particularly within large urban centers. There will be areas prone to high erosion, frequent flooding, salt intrusion, or inundation, which could create numerous economic setbacks, unemployment, population migration, and disruption of social amenities.

The Philippine Climate Change Assessment (PhilCCA) reported that climate-related disasters can cause damages totaling to as much as 46% of annual average household income in coastal communities; and that the country is estimated to lose 52.29% of its coastal GDP due to the potential intensification of storm surges.

The three landmark reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) point out that anthropogenic climate change is rapidly taking the planet down an uncharted path.

Dangerous events caused by changing weather patterns, including flooding, drought, wildfires, and extreme heat are becoming more common across the globe. Every degree of warming will likely reduce crop yields, productivity, and livestock production globally, while food demand continues to rise.

Changing rainfall patterns and temperatures are pushing ecosystems past their limits. Coral reefs would further decline by 70-90 percent at 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost at 2°C.

The science is unequivocal: We are in a climate emergency.

The case for ambitious adaptation is clear, as stressed by the flagship report of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), but it is not happening at nearly the pace and scale required.

We see the value of harnessing space science and technology, and its application in improving localized data needed for climate change and disaster management.

Months after the Philippines was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, a rapid damage assessment was done through the Satellite-Based Monitoring and Assessment of Rehabilitation in Typhoon Affected Regions (SMARTER-VISAYAS) Initiative, which acquired high-resolution multispectral satellite imagery through dedicated tasking services (DTS). With this initiative, finer flood hazard maps were generated and flood simulation models were improved.

Our Diwatas and Maya in space provided the impetus for the enactment of the Philippine Space Act this year to ensure the continuous development of space science and technology in the country.

This law, which mandates the creation the Philippine Space Agency and establishment of the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy, shows ourcommitment to enhance our hazard management and disaster mitigation strategy towards ensuring our nation’s resilience to disasters and climate change.

With this commitment, not only will our country be a responsible global space actor, but also be one of the contributors in the region in using space technology for adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

As we look for innovative solutions, we must utilize the most recent advances in the use of space applications and information. We must strengthen international cooperation in this area, helping ensure that we bring the benefits of space technology to our most climate-vulnerable communities.

The Philippine Space Agency is still in its infancy stages and will definitely require support from established space agencies and institutions that harness and utilize space science and technologies.

A satellite-based monitoring system is needed for the Philippines, as we pursue our initiative called GeoRiskPH or the Geospatial Information Management and Analysis Project for Hazards and Risk Assessment in the Philippines initiative.

As a multi-agency initiative led by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), GeoRiskPHaims to be the country’s central source of information for accurate and efficient hazards and risk assessment by providing protocols and platforms to share hazards, exposure, and risk information to people, communities, local governments, and national agencies to help themprepare and plan how to reduce the risks.

For a developing country, venturing into space science may be considered by some as the least of our priorities. It is not yet well ingrained in our educational system for ouryounger children to even begin to understand that this is not science fiction. But we want to change this. We want our youth to also dream and aspire to be space scientistssomeday.

We are most gracious to JAXA and to all our partners for your support that you have given our scientists and our country. I hope that this will continue as we voyagefurther into space towards building a more habitable and sustainable planet for the world.

Thank you very much.#