Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda: PROJECT I OF THE STORM

June 5, 2021

“Science for the People: Awakening Minds about Climate Change through Science, Technology and Innovation”
5 June 2021

Good day, and my appreciation and congratulations to the University of Makati – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Society for organizing this project, and for giving me the chance to speak virtually to you today on this important topic.


The pandemic exposed the sobering reality that the world is not as advanced and as resilient as we thought it to be. Despite the gains made in economic growth to address societal issues, we were unprepared for the life-threatening challenges COVID-19 brought us. This is a time for solidarity, caring, and empathy.

But as we work together toward putting an end to this public health crisis, we cannot afford to lose sight of the more disastrous and lingering crisis — the global climate emergency.

The massive scale of the climate crisis has never been more evident than today. The year 2020 was dubbed as one of the warmest years on record with the average global temperature at about 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, despite a cooling effect of the La Niña phenomenon. The six warmest years on record have all been in the past six years (2015-2020) and the trend is set to continue due to the increasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere.

Scientists agree that climate change is mainly attributed to human activity. Unless drastic cuts in GHG emissions are introduced, global temperatures are projected to increase by 3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

The latest climate science warned that we only have a decade left before the window of opportunity closes for achieving the 1.5°Celsius long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Global warming beyond 1.5°Celsius will disrupt basic social and economic activities. It will transform human life as we know it. The 1.5°C goal is the global warming threshold that will enable vulnerable developing countries like ours to survive and thrive.

We have seen many times the impact of natural hazard extremes and the prevalence of disaster risk, exacerbated by climate change. It affects food production, water security, settlements, jobs and livelihood, human welfare, safety and security, poverty reduction, economic growth, and consequently, the overall pursuit of sustainable development.

With each disaster that we allow to happen, Filipinos are dragged even deeper into poverty. With each disaster, money from government coffers that ought to be used to reduce poverty, support rural livelihoods, provide universal primary education, and improve health especially of women and children is diverted to relief, reconstruction, and rehabilitation.


Science is our ally in building resilience. It is vital in various stages of climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction and management – in assessing the vulnerability of communities, updating our geohazard maps, strengthening building codes, making risk-sensitive land use plans that are linked into yearly investment plans of governments, and establishing effective early warning systems.

Science tells us why these extreme weather events happen; it tells us how we can build our resilience to disasters; it warns us what we should and should not do to prevent further rise in global temperature. We have a multitude of studies and we must use this wealth of information to our advantage. The key is to turn science into practice or translate knowledge into action.

Evidently, the government must continue to support Filipino scientists in developing life- and livelihood-saving technologies. It will need to increase recognition of the relevance of research and development while fusing efforts with innovation and policy-making. Programs based on scientific research and innovation can change lives by averting disasters, safeguarding jobs, incomes, and livelihoods, enhancing food supply, promoting environmental sustainability, and combating poverty. Through science, our cities will be planned better, our farmers and fisherfolk will be more adequately supported, our people will live in a healthier and safer environment, and our economic growth will finally start to benefit all. I have no doubt that our scientists will be able to find bold and sustainable solutions.

Scientific experts need to be given the means to do their job of gathering, validating and processing scientific data that will enable the accurate prediction of events. These are indispensable inputs to designing practical solutions and communicating the risks to our people.

But the overflowing information and statistics on natural hazards, disaster risks and climate change should be communicated to and understood by governments and communities to be able to make science work.

So it is not enough that climate scientists know the risks. Governments, local leaders and the people on the ground should understand the vulnerability of their communities and be equipped with options, resources and the tools to enable them to become drivers of action in their respective communities.

All sectors of society—the national and the local government, the academe, the private sector, and civil society—should converge to conduct the necessary research, development, and extension activities to support the transition to a low-carbon and climate-smart country.


The Philippine Innovation Act under Republic No. 11293, which I principally authored in my third term in the Senate, integrates innovation into the government’s development policies, with science and technology at its core. As the law encourages investments in education, science, technology and innovation, it also reminds that educational institutions, among others, are “key drivers of programs that stimulate innovation literacy and skills development for the Filipino workforce and entrepreneurs, including women and the youth.”

This is why through the courses and even non-academic programs offered by colleges and universities, we hope to promote among the youth the culture of innovation, to encourage creative thinking and knowledge creation and dissemination towards expanding and maintaining economic competitiveness. But in order to create such an innovation ecosystem, we need to invest first in education.

Our schools need significant support, especially from the government, in conducting research that can keep pace with the best in the world, and we must not hesitate in investing in institutions that can in fact lead in research and development.

I also encourage promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM programs by supporting the grant of more scholarships to students enrolled in priority courses in all science schools, since all progressive nations have put science and technology as a centerpiece of their development policy.

Prioritizing the provision of public funds to scholars taking up STEM courses, and other key growth areas such as electronics, business process outsourcing, tourism, general infrastructure and other priority manufacturing industries, will be vital in our effort to build a knowledge-based and innovation economy. I have always believed that giving the necessary financial support to the academe will help produce a workforce that will support our industries and companies which, in turn, propel the country to inclusive growth and global competitiveness.


In every step of the way, we need science to guide us. Working with the science community is key to effective governance that builds resilient and sustainable communities.

We have come together to this event to exchange knowledge and devise strategies. We must use this opportunity not just to gain knowledge from one another, but also to transform that knowledge into concrete actions. We are builders not just of communities of today, but communities of the future. Let us not rebuild the risks. Instead, we must rebuild stronger and wiser.

As countries around the globe face economic setbacks from the pandemic, which has a direct relation to the disturbance and loss of ecosystems further exacerbated by the worsening climate, it is important that you make your voices heard and discuss issues such as sustainable development and climate resilience because they will define your future and even your children’s future.

We must take hold of the opportunity to responsibly manage our environment and lead the innovation towards making our nation and our planet resilient and sustainable.

Thank you and I wish you a successful event.