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Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda | Accelerated Climate Action and Transformation for Local Communities (ACT Local) Online Conference October 6, 2020 Zoom Digital Meeting Platform

October 6, 2020

I would like to bid a warm acknowledgement to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for the invitation to the Accelerating Climate Action and Transformation for Local Communities or ACT Local Online Conference.  I would like to commend our notable leaders at CCC, Secretary Emmanuel M. De Guzman whom I’ve worked with in pushing the country’s climate agenda forward, Asec. Romell Antonio O. Cuenca, Commissioner Rachel Anne S. Herrera, and Commissioner Noel Antonio V. Gaerlan for making sure that local climate adaptations and mitigation mechanisms are mainstreamed at the grassroots level.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank the National Panel of Technical Experts(NPTEs) for constantly reminding us the importance of a science-based solutions to climate change. And to our friends at DILG,and other local chief executives, Ladies and gentlemen,

The Philippines is no stranger to the impacts of climate change. Our status as a developing nation makes us even more vulnerable to extreme weather events, which have become more frequent and intense in recent years.

It present as the greatest threats to the lives of all Filipinos, particularly those who are situated at the most vulnerable sectors of our society – I am talking about our local communities, our farmers, our fisherfolks, and our indigenous peoples.

This is an important subject that we have to address now more than ever for we do not have the luxury of time to remain still if we aim to halt the trend of the devastating impacts of climate change.

I have been telling this before, in terms of climate change, we have to sustain the delivery of technical and capacity development assistance to local government units (LGUs) through the establishment of national and local government and academic consortia across the country. Whether we are tackling a pandemic or the climate crisis, it is clear that we need to deliver science closer to our LGUs and hand them the chance to choose a sustainable path.

Greenhouse gas concentrations – which are already at their highest levels – have continued to rise and this is the  mainreason why it is so important that we met here today and speak on this crucial topic.

In 2018, I accepted the invitation to be a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), which is a gathering of climate advocates and world leaders pushing to accelerate climate change adaptation.

The GCA aims to inspire heads of state, government officials, community leaders, business executives, investors, and other actors to prepare for and respond—to adapt–to the disruptive effects of climate change with urgency, determination, and foresight.

We aim to put forth adaptation at the heart of climate action to prepare for and respond accordingly to the disruptive effects of climate change. It means doing everything we can to protect people’s lives and livelihoods from the impacts of our changing environment, as well as creating and spreading solutions to make communities, homes, businesses, farms, and infrastructure stronger and better equipped to deal with increasing challenges.

Now that we are faced with similarly daunting challenge – the COVID 19 – the more we need to push for our climate agenda forward to protect the interest of and deliver social justice to our most hit communities.

This ongoing public health crisis is only one of many that will beset us if we continue to ignore warnings of scientists. If we continue on the path to a warming planet as we seem to be doing, we could use this crisis in three ways: as a test of our current coping mechanisms, as a drill for future crises, and as a wake-up call to the connection of this public health crisis to the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems on which we all depend.

I echo the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte, your chairman in the Climate Change Commission, during the75th United Nations General Assembly.

He said that, “the same urgency is needed to address the climate crisis. This is the global challenge that has worsened existing inequalities and vulnerabilities from within and between nations.”

The country as a developing nation suffer the most from climate change. And we cannot afford to suffer more.

I support President Duterte’s call to combat climate change, and his encouragement to those countries to commit to the Paris Agreement.

We at the national and local governments shall support our President to strengthen communities and people for preparedness and resilience. As President Duterte said, “We are talking about mankind and Earth, our one and only home.”

The scale of the climate and challenges we face today and in the future is by now evident. The adverse effects of climate change have the potential to undermine the development gains of the last many decades, and they threaten the prospects for achieving the sustainable development goals.

But one thing is clear we should involve and capacitate our local leaders to achieve our goals, in fact, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) underscores the integral role of training and education to enable society to contribute to climate actions. It is our urgent task to involve higher education institutions(HEIs) for capacity building.

Through the linkage of CCC, we are now recognizing the vital role of the academe as “service providers in terms of training on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation related concerns, hazard mapping, and risk and vulnerability assessment.”

Another milestone achieved by the commission is the Orientation and Consultation Meeting on Climate Change and the Implementation of Local Climate Change Action Plan which highlighted the role of HEIs and seek their cooperation in providing assistance to LGUs for LCCAP development. This event transpired last March 16, 2017 at the Senate of the Philippines.

Let me share another specific example of a government-academe cooperation. The approved PSF proposal from the Del Carmen Siargao, the Siargao Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolks in the Municipality of Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Suriago del Norte. This project has helped our farmers to improve their livelihoods and achieve a more decent lives.

To give some highlights the implementing partner for this P80.7 million-project is the Surigao State College of Technology who will host the climate field school will serve as the training ground for farmers and fisherfolks on climate-resilient agriculture and agro-fishery.

The Del Carmen, Siargao Island, is only one of the four pioneering LGUs to receive the PSF Financial agreement, totaling P192 million. But we also have the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Response as an Adaptation Mechanism to Resiliency in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur; Building Resilience through Community-based Ecological Farming in San Francisco, Camotes Islands; and Promoting Resiliency and Climate-Informed Gerona in Gerona, Tarlac.

With these local community models, I salute our pioneering local chief executives for keeping the faith in the Climate Change Commission and in the process, for paving the way for all other LGUs to also craft and implement climate-resilient programs.

But I also encourage our LGUs to apply for the PSF. With the constant consultation with the Climate Change Commission, I urge you to submit climate adaptation-related projects that shall help you increase your resilience to climate climate change.

Only with collaborative climate action we can empower and educate the local communities.

However, our advocacies should not end here. I encourage you to establish a long-term, multi-sectoral institutional partnerships like our climate change consortiums in Northern Panay and Leyte. HEIs from this engagement are capacitated on LCCAP development and quality assurance so they can guide and assist LGUs in their area to mainstream climate change in local development plans.

I want to encourage the DILG, our LGUs, our state universities, our business industry, our NGOs and CSOs to collaborate with CCC. We need to come together as key actors to the develop and implement risk-informed, science-and-community-based climate actions to protect the interest of all the Filipinos and our planet.

Let me end by pointing out that this event shall offer a pivotal moment to bring real change to how we address the vulnerabilities of local communities in coastal and upland areas. Let us grab this opportunity to learn more to help us do more.

I look forward to hearing the panelists and experts here today, and hope that our discussion will be part of continued efforts to strengthen our joint focus on our strong resolve to be a climate-smart and a climate-resilient Philippines.

Thank you!