July 27, 2022

Senate Pro Tempore Loren Legarda delivered the first privilege speech of the 19th Congress in the Senate, focusing on pandemic recovery and investment in human capital in line with climate action.

“We are now at the point of no return in our battle against climate change. The intricate interrelationships between the environment, our health, and the climate crisis cannot be understated,” Legarda expressed.

The staunch environmentalist lawmaker reminded the august chamber of our commitment to the Paris Agreement, which the body ratified in a Resolution introduced by the lady Senator in the 17th Congress. Under the treaty, countries must commit to limiting global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We are committed to support this global goal through our Nationally Determined Contribution, which intends to avoid and cut emissions to 75 percent by 2030 and modernize our carbon-intensive sectors on agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and energy,” the Senator asserted.

Legarda, the UNDRR Global Champion for Resilience, outlined measures consistent with the country’s commitment to the treaty, such as the use of environment-friendly transportation systems, nature-based solutions, especially for adaptation, resilient buildings and infrastructure, moving away from single-use plastics in favor of extended responsibility of plastic producers, and the promotion of circular economy.

While the four-term Senator has pushed several critical environmental laws in previous Congresses, the message was clear that the fight is far from finished. She noted that the Philippines ranked fourth of the countries most affected by long-term climate change according to the 2021 Global Risk Index.

Legarda also detailed some measures needed for pandemic recovery, such as rebuilding communities to reduce climate and health risks and vulnerabilities and promoting collective action in staging a resilient and sustainable pandemic and climate recovery. “Only through a climate pathway can we truly recover in a resilient and sustainable manner,” she insisted.

Meanwhile, the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) Flagship study asserts that by 2030, more than 100 million people in developing countries will live below the poverty line resulting from the impacts of climate change.

In response to the report, Legarda pushed for the adoption of nature-based solutions to become the new currency, emphasized the importance of involving local communities and other stakeholders in the creation and implementation of programs, and urged the optimization of our limited resources to prevent further loss and damage to our communities through upholding the principle of “Build Right At First Sight.”

“Build Right At First Sight” entails planning and executing policies and programs right for the first time, using the best available science. We must ensure that our limited resources are optimized to prevent further loss and damage to our communities,” the Senator explained.

She further conveyed that to breathe life into the laws, human capital must be strengthened, saying, “Through establishing livelihood training programs and providing technical and financial support for our farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and workers, we create an enabling environment where Filipinos can succeed and eventually provide for themselves. This is why I am also pushing for stronger support to help the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises and create more employment opportunities.”

Since Legarda was sworn in as Senator for the 19th Congress, she has already introduced legislation aimed at strengthening human capital. These include Senate Bill No. 7, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 8579 to include entrepreneurship in the scope of the Public Employment Service Office Act and to establish barangay employment and entrepreneurship offices (BEESO) nationwide; Senate Bill no. 8 or the Pangkabuhayan Law which seeks to institutionalize the livelihood programs of different agencies for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) under one umbrella program in view of pandemic recovery; and Senate Bill No. 840 or the Young Farmers and Fisherfolk Challenge Program.

Lastly, the Senator recognized the private sector’s vital role in initiatives and plans to achieve the nation’s sustainability and resilience goals. In this regard, Legarda stated, “The new strategy in industry and government must be to incentivize and de-risk investments in low-carbon and innovative technologies while enhancing stakeholders’ capacity for mitigation.”

In time for the celebration of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove System, the Senator concluded, “We believe that climate-resilient development is the right path to improving the lives of our vulnerable population while unlocking our potential for green and sustainable growth.”(end)