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Legarda calls on fellow parliamentarians to ensure environmental and climate laws are implemented and funded as region pursues sustainable recovery

March 24, 2021

MANILA, 24 March 2021 — House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda called on fellow parliamentarians to ensure environmental and climate laws are being implemented and funded as the Asia-Pacific region pursues sustainable recovery amid COVID-19 during the opening panel discussion of the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue: Turning Climate Promise into Action held virtually on Tuesday, March 23.

The three-day regional dialogue was organized by the United Nations Development Programme, with the aim of tackling the interrelated goals of climate action, gender equality, and COVID-19 recovery.

Citing the experience of the Philippines, Legarda noted that the country has enough laws—most of which she authored when she was a Senator—but needs to do more in terms of oversight and funding.

“I can proudly say that insofar as legislation is concerned, we are one of the pioneers, if I may say, because starting way back in 1998 we have legislated almost all the important environmental laws,” Legarda said, addressing the panel’s discussion on what laws parliamentarians would need to push for given the context of the pandemic.

“The challenge in the Philippines is not legislating more environmental laws, which we already have from 1998, such as the Climate Change Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, the Renewable Energy Law, the People’s Survival Fund Act, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, among others. It is very important to fund these laws and make sure these are implemented well,” Legarda said.

“This is to ensure that the implementors or the Executive Department, the agencies of government, actually implement these laws, that these are understood and efficiently implemented, and that the people understand and benefit from them. So the challenge is actually resource allocation and effective implementation,” she added.

Legarda was joined in the panel by Dyah Roro Esti Widya Putri, a Member of Parliament in Indonesia. Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva and President of UN Human Rights Council, also had a message during the panel discussion, which was moderated by UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia Pacific and Director of the Bangkok Regional Hub Christophe Bahuet.

During the panel, Legarda also highlighted the importance of climate action in the region’s work to recover from the pandemic, noting its importance at the local level.

“The only way for a sustainable recovery is the climate pathway. We in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia of course, or even in the Asia-Pacific, must ensure that our COVID or pandemic recovery is attuned to the policies and laws pertaining to climate change adaptation and mitigation. We should not train our sights merely on enhancing our capacities to rebuild after each and every disaster; but rather on reducing risks for our people and building lasting communities, so that when disasters strike, we are prepared. We can do this foremost at the local level, where simple local adaptation measures can reduce disaster risks and spell the difference. All climate change is local. We must be able to translate our policies, speeches and laws into simple language and technology,” she said.

Running until March 25, the regional dialogue is co-hosted by the UNDP’s Asia Pacific regional Climate Promise team and Gender team. The forum aims to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, good practices, and lessons on integrating inclusivity and gender equality into climate policy and implementation in the context of the new normal. ###