Legarda Hailed as Distinguished UP Alumna

June 22, 2013

Citing her contribution in protecting the environment and pushing for climate change adaptation policies, the University of the Philippines (UP) has chosen Senator Loren Legarda as one of its distinguished alumni for the year.

Legarda, who graduated cum laude from UP in 1981 with a Bachelor in Arts, major in Broadcast Communications degree, is the premier state university’s 2013 Distinguished Alumna for Environmental Protection and Climate Change Adaptation.

“I thank my Alma Mater for recognizing my advocacy on the environment. My vision is to build a safer and greener nation where every Filipino contributes to protecting our environment and making our communities disaster-resilient. I feel grateful when these efforts are acknowledged and I am greatly inspired to work even more. But more than the recognition, the greater reward is when we shall have benefitted and made a difference in the lives of the Filipino people, especially the poor and most vulnerable in our society.” said Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change.

Legarda worked for the enactment of laws on environmental governance like the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, the Renewable Energy Act, and the Environmental Awareness and Education Act. She also authored the Climate Change Act and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which were recognized by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) as among the world’s best laws on the subject.

At her own initiative, Legarda spearheaded an information and education campaign on climate change. She worked with various government agencies to create the Disaster Preparedness and First Aid Handbook, and produced films that explain the science of climate change, its impact on our everyday lives and how leaders can strive for a disaster-resilient development. These films, namely: “Ulan sa Tag-Araw: Isang Dokyu-drama Ukol sa Pagbabago ng Klima”, “Ligtas Likas”, “Buhos”, “Now is the Time”, and “Ligtas”, had been shared to the country’s 136 cities and 1,495 municipalities, and over 6,000 public schools and 112 state colleges and universities with 326 satellite campuses.

Meanwhile, through her urban greening program called Luntiang Pilipinas, which has planted two million trees in more than 500 hectares across the Philippines, the Senator continues to enjoin the participation of stakeholders in pursuing reforestation and urban revitalization.

In 2008, Legarda was appointed as the UN Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaption for Asia and the Pacific, which led her to engage in debates with global thought leaders and called for action along with women leaders of the world.

Moreover, she led international dialogues in Paris, Beijing, Geneva, Copenhagen and Hanoi and high-level advocacy with heads of state in Bhutan and the Maldives. She is committed to elevating the consciousness of the governments and peoples here and abroad on disaster resilience, green growth, and sustainable development.

She continues to spearhead multi-stakeholder workshops and fora and public information and education campaigns to institutionalize disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the community level. In partnership with the local government units, private business groups, and the academe, she vigorously promotes geohazard mapping and risk assessment in local development planning and business continuity planning as a key strategy in reducing disaster risk in the country.

In her third term as senator, Legarda ought to do more to uplift the poor and the quality of life of the Filipinos. “To secure a sustainable future, we need to prevent the recurrence of tragedies and losses from natural hazard and climate change. We must nip the disaster problem in the bud. This we can do more effectively if we look deeper into the underlying causes of our disaster vulnerability with competent disaster research and evaluation and, based on science and evidence, introduce needed policy and systems reform,” Legarda explained.

Aside from the UP Distinguished Alumna Award, Legarda has received other recognitions for her environmental and climate change adaptation advocacies, namely: Hero of Resilience conferred by the United Nations on the International Day for Disaster Reduction (2012), Asian Leader Award for Environment Policy, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2011), Awardee for the Environment conferred by the Priyadarshni Academy in Mumbai, India (2004), Global 500 Roll of Honor Laureate conferred by the United Nations Environment Programme in Turin, Italy (2001), and Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (2000). She has also been chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in 1992, and The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in 1993.