Legarda Highlights Landmark Environmental and Climate Laws, Best Adaptation Practices in “Conversations with the Champion”

June 5, 2020

In celebration of World Environment Day today and the Philippine Environment Month this June, House Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda featured ten landmark laws on environmental protection and climate risk governance, as well as ten exemplary adaptation practices, during the virtual forum “Conversations with the Champion” aired via Facebook Live today.

Legarda shared insights on what the country has done and what needs to be achieved to protect the environment and build resilience to climate risks, while recovering from the pandemic through sustainable ways.

“We have the laws in place. What we need now is the political will to enforce them. Nature has a way of reminding us that we have to do more and act faster to survive the shocks from pandemics, climate change, and emerging crises,” said Legarda.

As the country’s foremost advocate for the environment and climate change, Legarda authored and supported the passage of laws, such as the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749), Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 9003), Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 (RA 9147), Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 9275), National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008 (RA 9512), Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (RA 9513), Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729), as amended by the People’s Survival Fund Act of 2012 (RA 10174), and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), among others.

“We realize that these are extraordinary times, necessitating extraordinary action from us. Nature is sending us a message that we need to take better care of our environment. It is time to stop the abuse of nature. It is time to build a better normal. It’s time to conserve and protect our nature,” Legarda said.

“The raging COVID 19 pandemic has brought out the sobering reality that the world is not as advanced and prosperous as we think. We have realized that our societies and economic systems are fragile, and that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable. We need to value the intricate interrelationships of all life on earth, and we need a fundamental shift in the way we live. Returning to normal is not an option,” Legarda stressed.

Legarda is author and sponsor of House Bill (HB) No. 6864 or the “Better Normal for Workplaces, Communities and Public Spaces Bill,” which provides for stringent health and safety measures and improves policies and actions ranging from health, environment, climate change, education, agriculture, labor, tourism, and arts and culture toward a better normal.

As a United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Global Champion for Resilience, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Champion for National Adaptation Plans, UNDRR Asia Pacific Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, and Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation, Legarda highlighted the importance of synergy between the Philippines and international climate organizations to address global challenges at hand.

Legarda responded to questions from experts, including Global Optimism founder and former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres; International Strategy for Disaster Reduction forerunner Salvano Briceño; United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat Head Helena Valdes; World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Climate Prediction and Adaptation’s Former Director and Weather and Climate Extremes Journal Editor-in-Chief Dr. Mannava Sivakumar; Matthew McKinnon of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF); Dr. Rodel Lasco and Dr. Rosa Perez of the National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) of the Climate Change Commission.

On the importance of a holistic approach to address climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Legarda said, “We cannot solve our current problems by using the same kind of thinking that we used when we created this problem. That is why the approach must be from a systems perspective, to ensure that our actions from now do not restore the same vulnerabilities that we had before the pandemic. In everything we do, we must look back at what were the wrong things we did that spawned this and we should not repeat it.

On the importance of international cooperation, Legarda highlighted that “the international community should support through technology, exchange of best practices, finance, and capacity building to help our local economy transition toward a green economy” and that “a rebuilding of the economy must be towards a sustainable, resilient, and green development path.”

On a green and inclusive recovery pathway for the Philippines, Legarda said, “It is more expensive not to adapt, not to abide by the laws of nature. It is time to step back and pause. It is time to follow environmental laws. It is for our very own survival”, Legarda said.

“On World Environment Day, let us be kinder to each other as human beings, kinder to our community, kinder to the environment, kinder to nature. In return, nature will be kinder to us.” Legarda concluded.##