Legarda Urges Rotarians: Take More Proactive Role to Protect Env’t, Mitigate Climate Change

April 23, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda today encouraged Rotarians to take a more active role in finding solutions to the growing social, economic and development challenges caused by environmental degradation and disasters arising from natural hazards made stronger by climate change.


“Yesterday, we celebrated Earth Day, and in line with this, I wish to impart this message: We all live in one Earth. Climate change is now in our midst and it imparts to us the lesson that we do not own the planet. We are mere dwellers and stewards of its resources,” said Legarda as she addressed members of the Rotary Club of Manila and Rotary Club of Forbes Park during their joint meeting.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources and Climate Change, said that the environment has drastically changed in a span of 20 years since 1992 as stated in a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


UNEP’s study, Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20, showed that half of the seven billion human population live in urban areas and account for 75 percent of global energy consumption as well as 80 percent of global carbon emissions.


Moreover, the global use of natural resource materials has already increased from 42 to almost 60 billion tons annually; the primary forest area has decreased by 300 million hectares since 1990; global fish stocks continue to decline; and the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere has caused the increasing melting rate of glaciers, which not only influences sea level rise but also affects the water resources of one-sixth of the world’s population.


“The effects of our exploitative activities are evident in the increased frequency and volume of natural hazards. We have seen many times the impact of natural hazard extremes and the prevalence of disaster risk, exacerbated by climate change. The years from 2000 to 2011 saw 1.1 million people perish and another 2.7 billion individuals suffer due to disasters. Disasters caused 1.3 Trillion US dollars worth of economic damage worldwide,” Legarda explained.


The Senator said that while the country has numerous laws and policies that are focused on addressing environmental, climate change and disaster resilience issues, the greater challenge is to translate these laws into local action with measurable gains.


“Laws are just part of the equation, and their implementation through good governance could spell a big difference. But protecting our environment is not the duty of the government alone. It is everyone’s responsibility. Each of us has opportunities to make a difference for our future. We must take hold of the opportunity to responsibly manage our environment and build a sustainable, resilient and healthy nation,” Legarda concluded.