Speech: Sustainable Leadership Learning for Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction (SLL-CDRR) Launch

March 5, 2024

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Sustainable Leadership Learning for Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction (SLL-CDRR) Launch
AIM Fuller Hall, AIM, Makati City
5 March 2024

In December 2021, Typhoon Odette wreaked havoc on parts of Visayas and Mindanao, uprooting families and leaving behind a trail of devastation. It was the second costliest typhoon in Philippine history behind Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. We often think of typhoons as evidence that we have tampered with the planet’s natural thermostat and caused climate change.  But step outside for a few seconds, and you’ll feel it—the scorching heat isn’t just another summer day; it’s a glaring symptom of a planet in distress. Heatwaves bad enough to cause numerous casualties have hit the earth at a 50-fold increase since the 80’s.

These are not isolated incidents. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, climate-related disasters have nearly doubled in the past two decades, with the Philippines, unfortunately, ranking among the most vulnerable nations.

The climate crisis is no longer a distant threat; it’s a reality we face daily. The UN Environment Programme emphasizes the urgency: we need to cut carbon emissions by 7.6% annually to stay below 1.5°C of warming. This requires a global shift towards decarbonization, with countries setting ambitious net-zero targets and accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

But while the challenges are immense, so is the power of collaboration. Last August, I had the privilege of delivering the keynote speech at the Asian Conference on Climate Change and Disaster Resilience hosted by AIM. Witnessing the dedication and innovative spirit of individuals grappling with the same concerns ignited a spark. We all agreed that collective action is urgent and crucial.

One powerful solution is education, a field in which AIM excels. As we face more and more challenges from both natural disasters and ones caused by ourselves, we need to drastically reduce our vulnerability.  We need to know what to do, so well that it is almost muscle memory. This scholarship program is a milestone towards that goalpost.

Today, we celebrate the launch of the Scholarship Program for Climate and Disaster Resilience Leaders through AIM’s Executive Master in Disaster Risk and Crisis Management (EMDRCM) program, a collaboration between my office and AIM. This initiative aims to be more than just financial aid; it seeks to cultivate a diverse network of disaster management pioneers equipped to combat climate change and enable larger publics to tackle their challenges in the face of the unthinkable.

As women make up half the community, we endeavored to ensure they are represented sufficiently, their nurturing nature a potential key to beating the odds. This is an opportunity for public officials whose shoulders these extreme climate events people will expect to load.
The scholarship program prioritizes the following:

1. DRRM Officers in Local Government Units (LGUs)
Local government officials are expected to be first on the scene, despite being hit by the same disasters and possibly suffering along with everyone else. They still have to be the backbone of disaster response and rehabilitation efforts. Coordinated efforts and solidarity are crucial in ensuring communities are prepared, less vulnerable, resilient and can recover effectively.

2. Women Leaders for Climate Change Adaptation
I wish to underscore the gender dimensions of the global climate emergency. Women in fragile areas often bear the brunt of climate change’s impact. Their unique perspectives and experiences are indispensable in addressing these dimensions and ensuring equitable solutions.

3. Leaders from Indigenous Groups
These individuals are the guardians of our environment. With centuries of ancestral knowledge, our indigenous communities hold precious traditional wisdom on coexisting with nature harmoniously. By including them, we embrace community-centric strategies that bolster resilience and safeguard essential ecosystems.

4. Sustainability and Inclusivity Champions in National Government Agencies
I believe they are the unsung heroes of bureaucracy. Often operating in the shadows, these dedicated individuals are the driving force behind governmental initiatives for sustainability and inclusivity. Their expertise and commitment catalyze policy changes that promote sustainable development and address climate challenges at a national scale.

We face a complex challenge, but together, armed with knowledge, passion, and a commitment to collaboration, we can create a world where resilience isn’t just a buzzword, but a reality. This scholarship program is a vital step in that direction. However, it’s not enough on its own. Each of us, in our own capacity, can contribute.

Let’s join hands and create a future where we not only survive, but thrive, in the face of climate change. The future we build is the future we inherit – let’s make it a resilient one.

Luntiang pagbati sa lahat.