Legarda: PHL’s Vulnerability to Climate Risks, Threat to Agri Growth, Poverty Reduction

September 4, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for the government to enhance proactive measures in addressing the country’s vulnerability to both natural hazards and climate change.

Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, made the statement as the Global Climate Risk Index 2015 showed that the Philippines led the list of the most affected countries by extreme weather events in 2013.

“The Philippines is most affected by natural hazards and it is also the third most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These realities pose greater challenges to our development programs,” said Legarda, stressing that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) already warned that climate change impacts will likely make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps.

The Senator raised concerns over the risks posed by climate change in the growth of the agriculture sector and in addressing poverty in the country.

She called for the improvement of public investments in agriculture, such as irrigation, and pouring more funds in research and development.

“The country’s agricultural adaptation program must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improved water governance and land use policies, better forecasting tools and early warning systems, a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification, and access to credit and crop insurance to make significant improvements in the country’s food security goals,” she said.

Legarda has already warned of the ill effects of disasters and climate change to the country’s rice and crop production because both strong typhoons and droughts affect the agriculture sector.

The Senator said that past experiences have proven this fact. Typhoons, floods and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4% loss in total Philippine rice production; while disasters from 1990 to 2006 have caused an average of 12.4 billion pesos worth of agricultural damages per year.

Meanwhile, Legarda said she is hopeful that the government will be more proactive with its disaster resilience and climate change adaptation programs, as it has recognized that the war against poverty will be much harder if disaster vulnerability remains unaddressed.

“Disasters are greatly felt by the poor because the effects are magnified in their life. For many Filipinos, every single day of work is synonymous to survival. When impassable roads due to heavy downpour prevent a daily wage earner from going to work, it would mean no earnings for the day, no food on the table,” she said.

In this regard, she said that the government must look into how its social protection programs can be scaled up not only to address structural poverty, but also to build resilience against the recurring impact of natural hazards.

“We cannot let disasters keep the poor forever poor. We cannot let recurrent disasters take away from our people the little that they have in life. Building resilience must be at the heart of the country’s social protection program,” Legarda concluded.