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Legarda: Growth Must Be Inclusive, Equitable and Sustainable

May 21, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed on the need to promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth, noting that this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia delves on issues that greatly affect the economy, including climate change.

Legarda said that the Philippines, as host of the 2014 WEF, has the opportunity to tell the region that the country is back in business and ready to face the challenges that come with its growing economy.

“The Philippines’ growth has been surprising economists. Our economy has grown by more than 6% over the past 8 quarters and last year, it grew by 7.2%. But the greater challenge is translating the impressive numbers into more job opportunities, stable employment, equitable access to quality education, health services and other social services, and safe and disaster-resilient communities for Filipinos,” she said.

Legarda, a panelist for the interactive workshop, Designing Solutions for Climate and Resource Risks, warned that one of the greatest threats to the country’s growing economy is climate change, which has been causing extreme weather events.

She noted that Haiyan, the world’s strongest typhoon to hit land, caused damages and losses estimated at US$12.9 billion or about 5% of the country’s GDP.

“Natural hazards have become stronger in recent years. But there are underlying drivers that increase risks. These include poverty, badly planned and managed urban and regional development, informal settlements on unsafe lands, vulnerable rural and urban livelihoods, and ecosystem decline,” said Legarda.

“Solutions for climate and resource risks include investing in water supply, sanitation, flood control, transport, roads, social and health services, and energy infrastructure that build resilience to climate variability,” she added.

Legarda also said that since ecosystem decline is among the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty, in the context of climate change, “we must include green policies, especially the protection of our ecosystems, in our development strategies.”

The Senator also highlighted the private sector’s role in reducing climate risks and creating resiliency.

“Disaster resilience should be at the core of business strategies. The heightened engagement of the business sector in DRR is crucial in preventing substantial business losses and economic development setbacks resulting from disasters of unprecedented scale,” she said.

Legarda said that the Philippine hosting of WEF provides a perfect opportunity to showcase the country’s resiliency—that despite the calamities and the global financial crisis, our economic growth remains impressive. “Let me stress that while this is good, what we must aim for is not mere progress, but sustainable, economic and inclusive growth—never neglecting the most vulnerable sectors of society and never sacrificing the environment in the face of progress.”***