Legarda: Translate national plans, policies into local action to enhance resilience

March 10, 2021

MANILA, 9 March 2021 — Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda called for greater solidarity, cooperation, and action in enhancing the resilience of the Asia-Pacific region in light of the intensifying effects of the climate crisis and the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as Keynote Speaker at the Plenary Session on Policy and Climate Governance of the 7th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.

“The massive scale of the climate crisis has never been more evident than today. We meet today in recognition of a planet that is fast declining, as record highs of 2020 as the warmest year and the period 2011 to 2020 as the warmest decade on record, worsening effects of climate change, and economic shocks from this pandemic set us back to achieve our goals on sustainable and resilient development,” said Legarda, a three-term Senator who is also Global Champion for Resilience of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and National Adaptation Plan Champion of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The weeklong forum aims to exchange good practices of climate governance at the international, regional, and national levels that support adaptation actions towards building the resilience of sectors, including shaping a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asia-Pacific region is considered as highly vulnerable to climate and disaster impacts, with the 2019 Asia-Pacific Disaster Report finding that “economic losses due to disasters are larger than previously estimated with most of this additional loss linked to the impact of slow onset disasters in the agricultural sector” and that “multi-hazard average annual loss (AAL) for the region is $675 billion, of which $405 billion, or 60 percent, is drought-related agricultural losses, particularly in rural economies.”

Legarda also cited a study from the Asian Development Bank, which said that “even under the Paris consensus scenario in which global warming is limited to 1.5°C to 2°C above preindustrial levels, some of the land area, ecosystems, and socioeconomic sectors will be significantly affected by climate change impacts, to which policymakers and the investment community need to adapt.”

The legislator, who is also a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation, stressed that the Asia-Pacific region could expect prolonged heatwaves, coastal sea-level rise, and changes in rainfall patterns, which could disrupt ecosystem services and lead to severe effects on livelihoods, and in turn, affect human health and migration dynamics, and give rise to potential conflicts.

As the author of landmark laws on climate adaptation and mitigation and environmental protection, Legarda said that policies, plans, and programs should be translated into local action with measurable gains through fair and effective enforcement.

According to the GCA’s 2019 flagship report, “Adapt Now: A global call for leadership on climate resilience,” adaptation investments were found to consistently deliver high returns, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1 and “often creates more jobs per dollar spent than more traditional investment, with superior local benefits.

Legarda also noted that in the recent Climate Adaptation Summit, governments and businesses committed to bring climate finance to 50% adaptation from being skewed in favor of mitigation, and addressed the problem that only 10% of climate finance actually reaches local communities.

With this, Legarda underscored the need to promote the principles of “locally-led adaptation” where frontline vulnerable populations must have a voice and role in shaping the recovery in every key sector and system.

“The response must address underlying inequities in society affecting the capacity of local actors to adapt even as they stand on the frontlines of climate change, including marginalized communities, indigenous peoples, women and children, and youth. Local planning and investments can help ensure that the best information is shared, resources are made available, and the best policies are enacted,” Legarda added.

In line with the GCA’s “locally-led adaptation” principles, Legarda urged policymakers and leaders to: (1) expand financial resources available to local governments and community-based organizations; (2) facilitate efficient access to international and domestic climate finance and the transfer of technology and knowledge on adaptation and mitigation; (3) adopt nature-based solutions, such as wetlands restoration for water storage and soil moisture, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, planting mangroves to protect from coastal flooding, and increasing green urban spaces; and (4) invest in social preparation for the transformation of all sectors towards low carbon development and a green economy, and the sustained implementation and monitoring of outcomes of national climate plans.

“Considering that ecosystems contribute at least 30% of climate solutions, mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and nature-based solutions should be at the very heart of discourse, planning, and implementation of climate action, with cross-sectoral, cross-pillar, and multi-stakeholder engagement as its foundation,” Legarda added.

Lastly, Legarda emphasized the need to implement science-based global, national, and local action plans and policies to identify specific risks and vulnerabilities.

“As leaders, policymakers, planners, and implementers in our respective fields, let us give our region and the world the best fighting chance to bounce back better from this pandemic, ready and braced to cope with and to overcome the climate crisis.”

“Through this summit and beyond, let us learn from another, support each other’s adaptation and mitigation actions, advise on strategies, and strike convergence where possible. The Philippines looks forward and stands ready for more meaningful regional partnerships and initiatives that we could scale up at the global level,” Legarda concluded.

The 7th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum is being held virtually from March 8-12, hosted by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment together with the APAN Secretariat at the UN Environment Programme.

Resilience as the unifying theme of the event is structured around four thematic “streams”: (i) inclusive resilience (ii) nature-based resilience, (iii) economic sector resilience, and (iv) communities and local resilience.

Join in the week-long Forum by registering through this link: https://bit.ly/2YE3Fbt ###