Legarda: Climate Action Vital in Reducing Disaster Risks

March 18, 2017

On the second anniversary of the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (March 18), Senator Loren Legarda stressed the importance of dealing with climate change as a way to build disaster resilience.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and UN Global Champion for Resilience, said that climate change has been causing extreme weather events, thus, dealing with it is a critical disaster risk reduction measure.


“We have been experiencing how climate change is exacerbating natural hazards. The changing climate has been causing unprecedented heat levels resulting in severe drought or stronger episodes of El Niño. It is also causing stronger storms that bring storm surge, flooding, or landslide,” she said.


The Senator explained, “For a nation that is visited by an average of 20 typhoons a year and experiences El Niño every 2-7 years, climate action should be a vital component of disaster risk reduction (DRR). Climate change adaptation (CCA) is one way to build disaster resilience and preventing further warming of the climate is one way to reduce disaster risks.”


In 2011, Legarda spearheaded the integration of DRR and CCA through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).


The two agencies agreed to support the implementation of disaster and climate risk reduction measures identified by local government units (LGUs) through joint disaster and climate risk information coordination and knowledge management; and also to harmonize and coordinate the planning, development and implementation of local climate change action plans (LCCAP) and local DRR plans by LGUs.


“Climate change and disasters are interconnected. In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for DRR are three interlocking agreements that would save our planet and all species from destruction and death, depending on the level of action we take today,” said Legarda.


The Sendai Framework for DRR calls for ecosystem-based approaches to reducing disaster risk. Studies show that every dollar invested in ecosystem-based disaster and climate change adaptation means saving up to 20 dollars from mitigating and even avoiding the consequences of disasters.


Terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems serve as major carbon stores and sinks. The United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) estimates that 312 gigatonnes of carbon or 15% of the world’s terrestrial carbon stock are stored in protected areas.


However, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimated that 60% of global ecosystem services are degraded, reducing their ability to mitigate the impact of natural hazards.


“In order to achieve the SDGs, we need to take urgent climate action and build the resilience of our communities from natural hazards. Climate change mitigation by cutting down on emissions is a form of DRR as it prevents the creation of new risks,” said Legarda.


She added, “The Sendai Framework gives primary importance to understanding disaster risk so that we know how we can effectively address it—for governments to develop the necessary programs, for legislators to create the appropriate enabling policies, for the private sector to invest in risk-reduction measures, and for citizens to be involved. Disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business,” Legarda concluded.