Legarda: “Restoration action is always local; success depends on how much action you are willing to take”

June 4, 2021

In celebration of World Environment Day with the theme Ecosystem Restoration, three-term former Senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, a staunch advocate of environmental protection and preservation, and author of most of our environmental laws, joins the United Nations on its call to Reimagine. Recreate. Restore in order to prevent rapid degradation of the ecosystem.

“This planet that we call home has been ailing for quite some time, and we have to recognize that this pandemic is one of the obvious symptoms of the Earth’s declining health. Now, more than ever, is the time for us to take decisive action to address the dysfunctional relationship of humanity and nature. It is time to heed the warnings: do not eat what is not intended for human consumption, do not trade what should not be traded, do not overexploit the abundance of the ecosystem. We must relearn to coexist with nature for us to survive and not live in peril,” Legarda said.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared the years 2021 to 2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, just in time for the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030. Legarda has always expressed her full support to this global movement to urge rapid action to combat planetary threats and revive ecosystems for the sake of our environment, our Earth, and our future generations.

Since the beginning of her career in journalism, Legarda has embarked on her advocacy for the environment to address issues from forest degradation, marine pollution, waste problem, endangerment of our endemic species of flora and fauna to disaster risk reduction and climate change. She carried this advocacy on until she was elected in the Senate in 1998, thus paving the way for the passage of landmark laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Climate Change Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, People’s Survival Fund Act, Renewable Energy Act, Environment Education and Awareness Act, Green Jobs Act, Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, and the Philippine Disaster Risk and Reduction Act, among others.

“Our environment bears the brunt of our unsustainable economic ambitions and societal behaviors. The destruction of our ecosystems will lead to biodiversity collapse and extinction of millions of species, which will be detrimental to our water resources, food security, and sustenance and livelihood, especially impacting those at the grassroots. We need coordinated efforts and nature-based solutions towards the rehabilitation and restoration of our ecosystem to further prevent irreparable damage and bring about climate and disaster resilience outcomes,” Legarda stressed.

The three-term Senator has always been at the forefront of environmental and climate action. She sees the importance of a healthy ecosystem to the country’s growth and development that some may view as an issue of lesser importance. Her unceasing persistence to be the voice of our thriving environment and vulnerable populations has garnered support from those in the green movement and hopefully will continue to encourage more climate warriors and allies to deflect the catastrophic effects of this climate crisis.

Legarda sponsored the Senate concurrence to the ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, through which nations are pledging significant cuts to their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in pursuit of low carbon and climate resilient development.

In the House of Representatives, she recently filed a bill that calls for the implementation of an ecosystem and natural accounting system that will allow us to estimate the actual value of what we stand to lose if we make decisions that impact nature adversely in the long term. In filing House Bill 9181, Legarda believes that having knowledge of the value of our natural resources will guide us in managing and allocating them equitably for the future generations.

With the accumulation of plastic wastes due to the ongoing pandemic’s requirements for the use of disposable face masks, gloves, and shields, Legarda is alarmed by news on improper disposal of these personal protective equipment (PPE) and its impact especially on the marine ecosystem. As co-author of House Bill No. 9147, or the Single-Use Plastic Products Regulation Act, Legarda lauded the approval of the bill, which seeks to regulate the production, importation, sale, distribution, provision, use, recovery, collection, recycling and disposal of single-use plastics, on second reading by the House of Representatives.

Legarda said that although the use of disposable facemasks and PPEs are inevitable given the current health emergency, she encouraged the public to at least veer away from our throwaway culture, advocate for the use of numerous alternatives in the form of eco-friendly, sustainable materials, and adhere to the proper segregation of waste at source to prevent the worsening issue of pollution.

“We cannot bring back what we have lost, but we still have the chance to start again right and restore what is left to be protected. Restoration action is always local, our success depends on how well we do at the level of our communities and how much action we are willing to take. We can start our contribution to ecosystem restoration in our homes by reducing waste and practicing sustainability. We have to be reminded that with our fundamental dependency on nature, it is our responsibility to strengthen our commitment in addressing and responding to the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change,” Legarda concluded.***