PH’s First UN Global Champion for Resilience Says: We Need to Work Double Time for DRR

January 19, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today said that even with the increased awareness of people on the issues of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA), the Philippines as a nation and the whole world must work double time to improve resilience.

Legarda made the statement during the conferment of her appointment as Global Champion for Resilience by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The certificate of appointment was given to the Senator by Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, outgoing head of the UNISDR, together with Dr. Jerry Velasquez, UNISDR Chief of Section.

“In Japan last year, nations committed to the Sendai DRR Framework. In New York, nations likewise committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, and in France, they committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. These commitments are laudable but we need to move forward fast by turning these commitments into action—understanding disaster and climate risks to provide suitable solutions, promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, and limiting global carbon emissions, among other urgent actions,” she stressed.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change and the UNISDR Regional Champion for DRR in Asia-Pacific since 2008, is the first Filipino to be recognized by the UNISDR as its Global Champion for Resilience.

“Senator Legarda has been a driven advocate of disaster risk reduction policies in the Philippines and Asia, implementing new laws to adapt to climate change and working tirelessly to build sustainable development in Asia. She deserves her title today as a Global champion for resilience. We hope that she will inspire many more governments, parliamentarians, mayors and citizens to follow her path, as we need more action to achieve resilience,” said Wahlström when she announced Legarda’s appointment as Global Champion last year at the Climate Vulnerable Forum High Level Meeting at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference or COP 21.

According to the UNISDR, the Global Champion is a distinguished role to provide leadership to build the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.

Legarda is expected to advocate and promote the goals and priorities of the Sendai Framework for DRR; encourage the highest political leadership in countries to increase investment in DRR; and promote DRR to a wider set of decision makers to influence opinion and action for sustainable development.

Legarda is the country’s foremost environmental legislator. She is the principal author and sponsor of the Climate Change Act of 2009 that created the Climate Change Commission, the lead Philippine agency that negotiates in the yearly climate talks.

She has been chiefly responsible for the enactment of many other Philippine laws on environmental governance like the Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Renewable Energy Act, Environmental Awareness and Education Act, People’s Survival Fund Law, and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act.

As incumbent chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, she ensured the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the annual budget of government agencies, an approach she has advocated for since 2010.

Through her advocacy as UNISDR regional champion, Legarda has conveyed to world leaders the need to rethink approaches to development in the context of our fast changing global environment and the increasingly warming planet.

In the year 2000, the World Economic Forum held in Davos named Legarda as one of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow. In 2001, the United Nations Environment Programme included her in the Global 500 Roll of Honor. The University of the Philippines, her alma mater, also recognized her as its Distinguished Alumna for Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation (2013).*