Legarda calls to integrate health and DRR as extreme weather strikes around the world amid pandemic

July 30, 2021

MANILA, 29 JULY 2021 — Former three-term Senator and now House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda called for the stronger integration of health and disaster risk reduction in a keynote speech before fellow parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific Region during a consultation held Thursday, July 29.

“We cannot hope to manage hazards one by one: we need systemic ways of thinking and doing, especially when it comes to the closely intertwined issues of climate and health. Because this much is clear: planetary health determines the health of our families and our communities,” Legarda said.

Organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the event, titled “Parliamentarian Consultation on the Role of Parliaments in Disaster Risk Reduction, Health, and Climate Action in the Asia-Pacific Region,” aimed to open discussions on mainstreaming risk reduction.

In attendance during the consultation were other parliamentarians including Rep. Joey Salceda and others from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan, all actively engaged in disaster risk reduction in the region, who shared their views on parliamentary work on the issue, along with challenges and opportunities for disaster risk governance.

In her keynote, Legarda recounted extreme weather events striking all over the world in recent weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic as she called for urgent climate action and a “whole-of-planet” approach to health and disaster risk reduction.

“Events in recent weeks have been a stark reminder: no one is safe from climate change. Whether in China or Germany, Belgium or the Philippines, India or Nigeria, it has been made painfully clear that extreme weather events are getting more severe,” Legarda said.

“And as other parts of the world deal with intense flooding, droughts and wildfires are raging in the United States, in Canada, and in Russia. All these come as the world braces for further COVID surges due to the more transmissible and more lethal Delta variant,” she added.

“As we work to rebuild, our systems of prevention and response should better integrate health and DRR—after all, a pandemic is a form of disaster…[and] what we need is a whole-of-society, a whole-of-government, and indeed a whole-of-planet approach on this area,” Legarda emphasized.

Aside from urging fellow parliamentarians to operationalize linkages between health and disaster risk reduction, Legarda also emphasized the need to pursue green recovery as governments spend to bounce back from the pandemic. She also highlighted the need for stronger cooperation between parliamentarians across the region, and for bringing learnings and best practices to other global and national climate forums.

“Our work as parliamentarians is to make sure that the laws that we create are understandable, and that we utilize and benefit from them. Climate action has always been local. Our success and failure depend on how well we do at the level of our communities, at the grassroots, as they are foremost at the forefront of the climate crisis anyway,” Legarda concluded.

Legarda is the UNDRR Global Champion for Resilience, UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan Champion, Climate Vulnerable Forum Thematic Ambassador for Parliaments, and a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation. ###