Speech: Top Leaders Forum 2018

November 29, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Top Leaders Forum 2018
“Changing the Game: Building a Culture of Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships”
29 November 2018 | SMX Convention Center, Pasay City

If there was an off-the-shelf solution to avert disasters, I am certain all chief executive officers of private companies would have already bought it. But not everything comes with a price tag and it is in things that money cannot buy where we draw hope and inspiration, where we foster unity, where cooperation and selflessness arise.

While it is heartwarming to hear stories of survival and compassion in the aftermath of disasters, it is likewise heart-wrenching because lives and livelihood could have been saved if enough resources and effort had been put in risk reduction and prevention.

But our forum today is a testament to the value of cooperation, the importance of unity. The Top Leaders Forum has become a venue to turn challenges into opportunities and it has been effective in scaling up public-private partnerships to reduce and manage disaster risks.

Several supertyphoons have already hit the country since Yolanda in 2013, but thankfully, we have not seen the same tragic consequences in equal scope and magnitude. I would like to believe that strengthened disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) efforts have become integral not only in governance but also in corporate management. Citizens themselves have become more attentive to public service advisories. One proof is that more people now heed early evacuation guidance even before the onset of typhoons.

This should not, however, lull us into complacency. In fact, all the more we need to heighten efforts to build our capacities to reduce disaster risks.

According to the 2017 World Bank report, Philippines Urbanization Review: Fostering Competitive, Sustainable and Inclusive Cities, the country’s urban population will increase by approximately 20 million over the next 20 years. It estimates that 102 million Filipinos will be living in cities by the year 2050. This means, almost the whole Filipino population at present will be crowding our already congested cities a generation from now. This would certainly pose a great challenge to governance, especially in building healthy, liveable, resilient and sustainable communities.

Our theme for this year’s forum is “Changing the Game: Building a Culture of Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships,” and I would like to mention that there is no gamechanger more urgent, more requiring of our leadership and resolve today, than the call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We must take seriously our country’s climate leadership among the vulnerable nations, we must embrace innovation and new technology, and we must enable the policies in order to rapidly transform our societal systems and practices for a safer and more sustainable world. We can draw inspiration from India, which in 2017, generated 40% of all its new electricity capacity from solar;  from Germany, with its grid running on renewable energy above 53%; and from the Marshall Islands, which recently released their national Tile Til Eo Climate Strategy, meaning “Lighting the Way” in Marshallese—to be carbon neutral by 2050.[1]

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Intel, are already at or close to 100% renewable energy, with Apple also promising to adopt a 100% circular business model. Google’s data center in Finland runs on 100% wind power. And 94 companies representing 12.5% of the fashion industry have also signed the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment to reduce waste.[2]

As we hold this forum today, let us ask the questions: “What can the Philippines innovate? How do we prepare for a scenario of a hundred million population? What would a green Philippine city look like? How can we reduce disaster risks and promote sustainability?”

That we shall discuss all of these things here and create a plan, is par for the course. But what is more important is that we take action that produce meaningful results, and inspire many more to do the same.

We build a culture of resilience by making it a way of life. We do not only act when natural hazards are about to strike, but all our actions are already geared towards resilience. It means that we segregate our waste at source and reduce, reuse, recycle so that we minimize waste production. It means, growing more trees and mangroves because these are natural barriers to flooding and storm surge. It means constructing buildings and structures to be safe and habitable based on multihazard maps.

I am certain, all of us here today know all of these already. And the challenge to us is to strengthen public-private partnerships, pooling our resources and knowledge to mobilize communities and motivate individual action. Let us lead the way.

Thank you and good morning.

[1] Exponential Climate Action Roadmap, 2018. https://exponentialroadmap.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Exponential-Climate-Action-Roadmap-September-2018.pdf

The Republic of the Marshall Islands released their Climate Strategy on September 24, 2018.

[2] Ibid.