Privilege Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on Climate Change

September 23, 2014

Privilege Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on Climate Change

23 September 2014 – Senate Session Hall


Mr. President,


I deliver this speech in light of President Benigno Aquino’s address at the UN Climate Summit Plenary in New York today.


The Philippines is one of the megadiverse countries and a lot more awaits to be discovered even as we now have one of the highest rates of discovery of new species in the world.[1]


This seeming abundance, however, should not give us a false sense of complacency. Great challenges face us in the task of protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity.


We are all consumers and we contribute to the decline of the world’s resources because of our insatiable demand for new things.  One is never enough for many of us. The rate of extraction and consumption is way faster than the rate at which the Earth can replenish its resources.


This is consistent with the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, which revealed that humans have altered ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the past 50 years than in any period in history.


The increasing loss of biodiversity, particularly in Asia, is being attributed to habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change.


Further endangering the precarious situation of our country’s biodiversity is climate change. Among the impacts of climate change is the loss of thousands of species as well as changes in natural ecosystems. The rise in average global temperatures render many species unable to quickly adapt to new conditions.


But the biggest irony of all is the reality that in the midst of plenty and bountiful resources, millions of the world’s humanity remain hungry.


In our country, there were 3.6 million hungry Filipino families in the second quarter of 2014.[2] In coastal communities, you would expect people to have access to marine resources, yet they are among the most deprived, with 4 of 10 coastal residents living under the poverty line.[3]


The solution begins with us. Resources need to be protected and conserved for those who will be born beyond our time.


The first step towards building a sustainable community, one that respects biodiversity, is to correct one of the biggest misconceptions about the environment—that natural resources are infinite. We all need to stop craving for and taking more than what we need.


Second, building sustainability is a collaborative effort.  Protection of our resources is a joint responsibilty of local government units and the community. Local communities should be empowered through a transparent system that clarifies access and ownership of resources.


Third, we need tools and the medium by which to effect change.  We need to promote green skills and green jobs such as management in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, environmental, information technology and other careers that contribute to environmental preservation.


Here in the Senate, we have several proposed measures aimed at strengthening climate adaptation mechanisms and conserving biodiversity, including the Integrated Coastal Management Act and the National Land Use Act.


Tonight, as President Aquino delivers his speech at the UN Climate Summit Plenary in New York, we hope that, as the leader of a nation which is among the most vulnerable to disasters and the effects of the warming global temperature, he will call on other nations for unity towards greater action against the impacts of climate change and urge them for concrete action in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.


We hope that this UN Climate Summit will be more than just a usual dialogue of leaders; that world leaders will declare or renew their commitment to lead our people out of the crises and uncertainties brought about by climate change; that political will would finally match the call of climate science, because as we continue to delay actions to mitigate climate change and address its effects, we will never be free from the cycle of poverty and disasters that is threatening not only the vulnerable sectors and nations, but now even the powerful nations.


Climate change, along with the extreme weather events it causes, knows no boundaries and the only way forward is a united global action towards mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.


Thank you.


[1] The rate of discovery of new species is one of the highest in the world: a total of 36 new species (20 frogs, eight lizards, and eight snakes), or roughly 10% of the total herpetofauna, has been discovered in the last ten years.

[2] Fourth Quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey

[3] Philippine Environment Monitor 2005 on Coastal and Marine Resource Management