Message: “From Risk to Resilience: Forging Pathways and Milestones”

November 12, 2019

8th Top Leaders Forum

ARISE Philippines, SM Prime Holdings Inc., and

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

SMX Convention Center, Pasay City

12 November 2019


Distinguished guests, private business sector leaders, colleagues in government, partners from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, civil society, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.


I am privileged to deliver my message at the 8th Top Leaders Forum, even as I carry out my role of representing the Philippines at the 24th Board Meeting of the Green Climate Fund here in Korea.


As rightly put by the 2019 Global Assessment Report, “climate change is a major driver and amplifier of disaster losses and failed development,” as it generates increasingly powerful storms, exacerbates coastal flooding due to sea level rise, and brings record-high temperatures and prolonged droughts.


The Philippines ranks fifth among countries most affected by climate change from 1998 to 2017 in the current year’s Global Climate Risk Index by the Germanwatch. In these two decades, the country lost an annual average of 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to climate change impacts.


The latest climate science warns that we barely have 12 years left before the window of opportunity for achieving the 1.5°C long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement closes.


The 2019 GAR highlights that while risk reduction processes have multiple linkages with climate change mitigation, adaptation and vulnerability reduction, few disaster risk reduction plans take these into account.


In my strong belief that we must accelerate climate change adaptation, I accepted the invitation to be a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA). The GCA is jointly led by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva, and aims to inspire governments, business leaders, and investors to adapt to the disruptive effects of climate change with urgency, determination, and foresight.


Last September 10, we launched the GCA Flagship Report developed over the course of several months. I have the distinct honor and privilege of sharing its findings at this forum.


The GCA flagship report, titled “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience,” revealed that without adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields by up to 30 percent by 2050, affecting 500 million small farms around the world.


The number of people who may lack sufficient water, at least one month per year, will soar from 3.6 billion today to more than 5 billion by 2050.


Rising seas and greater storm surges could force hundreds of millions of people in coastal cities from their homes, with a total cost to coastal urban areas of more than one trillion US dollars each year by 2050.


Climate change could push more than 100 million people within developing countries below the poverty line by 2030.


But, the report found out that investing 1.8 trillion US dollars globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate 7.1 trillion US dollars in total net benefits.


The five areas considered for this estimate are early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture crop production, global mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient.


In other words, failing to seize the economic benefits of climate adaptation with high-return investments would undermine trillions of dollars in potential growth and prosperity.


In the Philippines, we have long pursued coordinated strategies on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, including mainstreaming both in national, sectoral, and local development plans, through the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.


The private sector, most notably led by ARISE Philippines and the National Resilience Council, has done an incredible work in helping create resilient societies through public-private partnerships. I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your milestones:


(1) in building the resilience of micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs, which are the lifeblood of the Philippine economy; and,

(2) in implementing the Resilient Government Program.


I also note that NRC and its partners in the Ateneo, Manila Observatory and Zuellig Family Foundation have designed a prototype for a Resilient Barangay Bingo Scorecard with the City of Muntinlupa, which may be replicated in other cities and municipalities.


Indeed, we need all hands on deck as much work remains to be done.


We must address the gaps in local data and science on climate risks and hazards to inform local action. We must strengthen climate information services and multi-hazard early warning systems so that it is able to reach the furthest behind first.


We must continue to build capacities at all levels for risk science-based development planning and investment programming.


We must continue sourcing climate finance for DRR and CCA, such as improved water management, promotion of sustainable livelihoods, establishment of “early warning – early action” systems, formulation of evacuation and contingency plans, and resettlement of populations at risk.


We must move from project-based efforts towards a holistic programmatic approach to sustain initiatives for more long-term impacts.


We have no other choice now but to reduce the risks and adapt to a fast warming world fraught with danger.


We have no other choice now but to wean our economies from over dependence on coal and fossil fuels in the shortest time possible.


Let us unite for resilience — for despite the odds, we shall survive and thrive in this trying era of climate change.


Thank you very much.