Legarda in Addressing New Norm: Make Resilience an Attitude

July 29, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today said that extreme weather events, such as torrential rains and harsher typhoons that are considered the new normal, should be addressed with a change in perspective—by looking at the opportunities in the face of threats.

“Resilience is an attitude. The new normal challenges us that our mindset should be focused on confronting risks and hazards,” said Legarda.

In a privilege speech, the Senator who is also the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, discussed ways on developing the attitude of resilience to hazards and disasters.

Legarda cited the story of Senator Monthian Buntan of Thailand, who, despite being blind since birth, remained clear on his vision to improve disaster evacuation plans around the world to meet the special needs of people including persons with disabilities, the elderly, children, refugees, and cultural/linguistic minorities.

“Our outlook should be that the glass is half-full, because after all, hazards are natural, and it is disasters that are man-made. We can always find innovative solutions to existing problems,” she said.

Legarda said that people can venture into developing climate change adaptation expertise or in other related areas, because a study done by Environmental Business International, Inc. estimates that, in the next seven years, the annual market for “climate adaptation services” will grow by 12 to 20 percent per year, becoming a $700-million annual market in the United States and $2 billion globally.

She also said that disaster risk reduction (DRR) should be viewed as an investment and not as additional expense. For instance, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has calculated that if the government of Pakistan invests on DRR now, it is projected to achieve approximately 25 percent more economic growth for the year 2042.

“We are never out of or lacking resources; we only need to effectively manage what we have so we can maximize on them. Developing resilience may be more effective if we provide adequate social protection especially to the poor, who bear the greatest economic losses in disasters,” she explained.

Legarda said that addressing disaster risks is also linked to poverty alleviation because the effects of disasters are immediately and greatly felt by the poor. For instance, when a daily wage earner is unable to go to work due to impassable roads caused by heavy downpour, he will have no earnings for the day and will be unable to feed his family.

“For many of our people, every single day of work is synonymous to survival. Beyond addressing structural poverty or merely satisfying the basic human needs of the poor, social protection must empower the poor to reduce their vulnerability and strengthen their resilience, and to free themselves from persistent poverty and inequality,” she stressed.

“While heavy and excessive rainfall is part of the new normal, we need not live with the risks that disrupt our social and economic activities. We need not have flooded streets, heavy traffic, and stranded commuters in the metropolis or washed away houses, collapsed bridges, and devastated farmlands for every intense rain or typhoon. We must learn from our past experiences, practice enhanced disaster preparedness more than response, and be proactive in reducing risks,” said Legarda.