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Legarda: High Time to Operationalize Clean and Sustainable Recovery; Supports Thrusts of UK COP 26 Presidency

August 21, 2020

During a meeting held yesterday, August 20, 2020, with His Excellency Daniel Pruce, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Philippines, and His Excellency Ken O’Flaherty, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) Regional Ambassador, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda reiterated the need to operationalize clean and sustainable recovery.

Ambassador O’Flaherty presented the thematic focus of the UK Presidency for COP26 which revolved around five campaign points: climate finance, adaptation and resilience, nature-based solutions, transport, and energy transition.

Legarda, a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation, UNFCCC Adaptation Champion and UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, expressed her support for these thematic priorities, and noted that they will need a concerted effort to push for clean, green, blue, resilient and sustainable recovery.

“The pandemic has changed the world. Yet we see a silver lining. The pandemic has had an impact on industries, but the silver lining is that it may also help us meet the target to curb emissions. The Philippines must focus on finalizing its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Mitigation is important, but we should also shift or increase our focus to adaptation, which is the anchor strategy of the Philippine climate action framework. More resources are needed to scale up our climate-resilient agricultural practices. We should also invest on climate-resilient infrastructure and promote nature-based solutions, especially for building infrastructure. We also have to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We have to move past coal,” Legarda said.

Legarda was recently appointed as the Thematic Ambassador for Parliaments of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), whose main role is to represent the unheard voices and concerns of vulnerable countries that are highly exposed to the adverse effects of climate change.

She suggested that “building back better”, a standard concept in building resilience after a disaster, should be revisited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to create more resilient nations and societies than before. Now is the time to build on the gains that this pandemic has brought about when it comes to our environment. Moreover, this pandemic allows us to rethink our relationship with biodiversity. A healthy planet, healthy habitats for wildlife, and respect for nature would mean healthy people too, all thriving harmoniously in viable coexistence. This should guide governments in setting and championing the long-term direction for sustainable and low carbon development,” Legarda said.

“No matter how painful it has been for us, admittedly, it has made visible the ways of lowering emissions, but this may be adversely affected by high carbon pathways of recovery. We should re-engineer our mindsets in terms of energy and market policies and intensify our attention to low carbon solutions which can also benefit vulnerable sectors such as farmers and fisherfolks and the urban poor. We have to seize this moment and make recovery inclusive and sustainable,” Legarda concluded.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference will take place on 1- 12 November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland, with the United Kingdom holding the presidency.##