Speech of Senator Loren Legarda: 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF)

January 20, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda

26th Annual Meeting of the

Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF)

January 20, 2018 | Hanoi, Vietnam


I wish to deliver a manifestation on the Resolution Calling for Regional Cooperation on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation sponsored by the Philippines.


Our theme for this year’s meeting is “Parliamentary Partnership for Peace, Innovation, and Sustainable Development,” which reflects our commitment to promote economic, cultural, and regional cooperation for peace, security, prosperity, inclusive, and sustainable development.


I share the ideals and principles embodied in this commitment for our region. However, we can never truly achieve real lasting growth within our region until we address our prevailing disaster and climate risks.


In the last century, the Asia-Pacific region continues to be the world’s most disaster-prone region, accounting for 91 percent of the world’s total deaths due to disasters.[1]

Moreover, due to our climate and disaster risks, our region is expected to bear 40 percent of global economic losses from disasters from 2015-2030.[2]


Our gathering today, the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), should therefore have a more pronounced role in leading the discussion on reducing disaster and climate risks that continue to threaten the very future of our humanity.


I speak before you as a legislator of the Philippines, a mega-biodiverse archipelagic country of more than 7,100 islands with rich natural resources of flora and fauna that provide for the more than 100 million Filipinos living in this climate-vulnerable country.


We are an agricultural country, but in 2016, as a result of prolonged drought in North Cotabato, our very own farmers—6,000 of them—protested and begged for food from our government. Two farmers died and several others were wounded that day when the protest turned violent.


Another memory that we remember as fresh as the day when it happened is the tragedy of 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, as we call it, wreaked havoc in the Philippines, claiming 6,300 lives and displacing 3.4 million families.


Haiyan made first landfall in Guiuan, a small town along the Eastern seaboard of the Philippines that was easily turned into a wasteland. Guiuan, however, is just one of the many communities continually ravaged by an average of 20 typhoons that visit the Philippines every year.


This has been the norm for us. We have endured cycles of devastation and reconstruction, of destruction and rehabilitation, and we have always come out stronger than before. But we have learned that, as tenacious and resilient our Filipino spirit can be, it will not be enough to effectively address the impacts of disasters and climate change.


Our prevailing climate and disaster risks are vulnerabilities that we share and you all experience back home. And we know very well that these vulnerabilities demand for timely, appropriate, and effective measures of legislation.


Philippine legislators have the responsibility of recommending changes in our national budget. And this has allowed me, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, to enshrine climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction (CCAM-DRR) provisions and transform our national budget into a climate-smart and climate-resilient budget.


Furthermore, during COP23, I was designated by the UNFCCC as the National Adaptation Plan Champion for the Philippines—a role that is consistent with my advocacy of mainstreaming CCAM-DRR into the systems and processes of our government agencies, especially for those dealing at the frontlines and involved in the critical sectors of our country.


As the region that bears the brunt of disaster and climate impacts, we need to take greater and more ambitious climate action—such that inspires the rest of the world to do the same. We need to transform our region from being climate-vulnerable to being climate-smart and climate-resilient.


We have to further integrate CCAM-DRR into our respective country’s development agenda, plans, policies, programs, and investments at the national and local levels.


We do this by allowing ourselves be constantly guided by science and academic research, to utilize the assessment of current and projected disaster and climate risks, as a means to inform our climate actions in the executive and legislative agenda of our governments.


More importantly, we must build our resilience from within. We need to draw strength from each other, to intensify cooperation in the aspects of finance, technology, and capacity-building, with the view of mobilizing resources, leveraging knowledge, and exchanging best practices in CCAM-DRR.


As one region, we need to work towards a long-term legislative framework for action on climate change in the Asia-Pacific region in line with the global blueprints for disaster risk reduction, climate change, and sustainable development—including the fulfillment of our commitments in our respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.


We need to have one voice, to show our strength and resilience as a region, to inspire the rest of the world to protect and safeguard this one planet we call home.


Thank you.



[1] Global Environment Outlook 6 – Regional Assessment for Asia and the Pacific – http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/7548/asia_and_the_pacific_fact_sheet.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

[2] Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Asia-Pacific%20Disaster%20Report%202017%20%28Full%29.pdf