Parliamentary Meeting: Politics of Climate Change Legislation

December 15, 2009

My fellow parliamentarians,

I am pleased and honored to speak before you in this landmark conference on the greatest challenge humanity faces today. Climate change is undeniably in our midst, increasing the risks of disaster in vulnerable cities and communities.

In different parts of the world, like in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific region, climate change has already ushered unprecedented disasters, among the more recent was the flooding in the Philippine capital last September, whose impact on people’s lives shall linger for many years. Yet, climate science conveys that this extreme weather event is certainly bound to recur, perhaps with even worse outcomes.

There is no more fitting time to say that reducing disaster risk and climate-proofing our livelihood and development gains and goals have become a moral imperative for governments and a social responsibility for all than now — when having less in life means losing life.

I believe that the urgency to take action on this prevailing climate crisis has brought us to assemble in this hall, fully aware of our capacity as leaders and makers of laws to protect our people, secure future generations, and preserve the viability of life on Earth.

Our action should enable us to revisit and rethink our current frameworks and strategies for socio-economic development. For through the centuries, our development approaches and practices have allowed disaster vulnerabilities to grow, to spread, and to pervade until today.

Poverty and gender inequality, environmental degradation, rapid urbanization, and climate change, have all conspired to create enormous risks in our communities. They have constantly challenged our human capacity to cope. This must cease.

Our action should enable us to espouse a new brand of politics — the kind of politics that has genuine regard for human development and a forceful vision for the future of humanity; the kind of politics that ushers proactive laws and policies and reforms our conventional way of thinking and doing.

Our action should enable us to institutionalize a new brand of governance — the kind of governance that ensures risk reduction laws and regulations are passed and implemented and that creates the necessary enabling environment to translate sustainable development strategies into practical and measurable gains; the kind of governance that translates political commitment into real actions and results for the people at national and local levels.

Our action should be able to engage all key stakeholders and sectors, to promote cooperation and coordination among themselves, especially in the process of mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into national development agenda.

Our actions should be able to promote risk awareness in communities and to increase national commitment to and investment in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for a safer and more sustainable future for all.

We know our respective constituents — their aspirations, concerns and needs. We know their capacities, vulnerabilities and risks.

Likewise, we know our responsibilities and the opportunities before us to help and lead our people out of crises and uncertainties brought about by climate change. We all know that we can start adapting to climate change now by building upon risk reduction practices that are grounded in local knowledge and tried and tested in the crucible of local experience.

We have extensively discussed these actions in series of consultative meetings of parliamentarians co-organized by UNISDR at national and regional levels, from Manila in 2008 to Malta just last month.

I am particularly pleased to know how the parliamentarians have gone far to heed the Manila Call for Action as well as reaffirm the challenges and further resound the call for immediate political and sectoral action on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

We are fully aware of the challenges ahead and the tasks at hand.

Now is the time for real action.