Speech: Visayas Cooperative Conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

November 7, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda*
Visayas Cooperative Conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
November 6, 2018 | Leyte Academic Center

*Delivered by Climate Change Secretary Emmanuel M. De Guzman

Good morning, and my sincerest appreciation and congratulations to the Philippine Haiyan Advocacy Cooperative for organizing this Visayas Cooperative Conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, in partnership with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

I also thank all those who are here today—our mayors and government officials, our leaders from different cooperatives, members of the academe, climate and environment experts and advocates, and all other stakeholders—all of whom I hope could help bring about the needed urgent action towards climate resilience, not just here in Leyte and Visayas, but across the Philippines and the world.

This conference’s theme, Cooperative Efforts in Action: A Response to Climate Change, captures the whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach we have to foster in order to spur and sustain climate action. Simply put: convergence—for all groups, sectors, and communities to work together to overcome the challenges we face in light of climate change.

Just this October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading body assessing the science related to climate change, released its much-awaited Special Report on 1.5°C. And as we converge our efforts to achieve our shared goals, the report cannot be anymore clearer as regards the direction we need to take.

As you may recall, it is our country, along with fellow climate-vulnerable countries, that advocated for the inclusion of the more ambitious climate goal of 1.5°C to be included in the Paris Agreement. When everyone else found it acceptable to set the goal at 2°C, we held our ground and negotiated for 1.5°C because we know that any level beyond it will put our people at further risk.

Three years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement comes this Special Report on 1.5°C, which upheld that 1.5°C is the safer, more humane, and more sustainable threshold of global warming. It has also amplified our call for “climate justice,” which, among others, demands for greater responsibility from industrialized nations to assist vulnerable countries in enhancing resilience.

The report also states that limiting global warming at 1.5°C is entirely possible. But the huge caveat is this: It requires “unprecedented” or “rapid and far-reaching transitions,” especially in the energy, land, urban and infrastructure, and industrial systems.

Therefore, when we talk about cooperation and convergence in responding to climate change inside and outside of this conference, we have to contextualize this into the appropriate level and pace of climate action that the IPCC report urges from all nations and from all of us.

Allow me also to mention two events that had happened last month.

First is the launching of the Global Commission on Adaptation at The Hague, Netherlands, where I formally accepted the invitation to be its Commissioner, along with other global leaders pushing to accelerate adaptation and urging bolder solutions towards resilience against climate-related threats. And the second is the 6th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum, held in Manila, which is the largest gathering of adaptation practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region.

I mention these two because they occurred following the release of the 1.5°C report, and in both events, the call for urgent and scaled up efforts on climate action to meet the requirements for a 1.5°C global warming is very prominent.

And as we participate in this conference now, as well as in future climate talks, we need to amplify this call leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference this December, where the work programme of the Paris Agreement is set to be finalized. We hope that nations could rise to the challenge of driving ambition and action in support of the 1.5°C goal.

But while this happens overseas, we also need to ensure that we incite and sustain greater and ambitious climate action in our own country, especially at the community level.

We need to take a bolder perspective along five emerging major challenges that call for stronger foundation of all development pursuits on reducing climate and disaster risks.

First, we must enhance and sustain awareness and understanding on climate change and its associated risks, through all media platforms and formal and informal education systems.

Second, we must sustain urban planning and development, in view of the continuing trend of rapid urbanization, increasing urban population density, unabated rural to urban migration, high concentration of economic activities and assets in cities, and expanding carbon footprints, altogether resulting in increased urban disaster risk and vulnerability.

Third, we must accelerate capacity building for local governments and communities, including ensuring that their local development plans and investment plans are in place, updated and implemented and responsive to the adaptation and resilience needs of the poor and marginalized groups.

Fourth, we must invest in social preparation for the transformation of all sectors towards low carbon development and a green economy, and the sustained implementation and monitoring of outcomes of national climate plans, including the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

And fifth, we must facilitate efficient access to international and domestic climate finance and the transfer of technology and knowledge on adaptation and mitigation pursuant to the provisions of the Paris Agreement and in accordance with the principle of climate justice.

Through this Visayas Cooperative Conference, we hope that we encourage discussions on how the people in the region can truly mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation in the local development planning processes.

But while climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as disaster risk reduction, or CCAM-DRR, is already integrated into our national development agenda and investment planning, this needs to be further encouraged at the local level.

This is why the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and its National Panel of Technical Experts have been leading efforts to extend assistance to our local government units (LGUs) on various efforts, such as formulating local climate change action plans (LCCAPs), conducting trainings on greenhouse gases inventory and climate field schools, and accessing the People’s Survival Fund (PSF)—all of which are carried out with the help of local academic institutions, civil society, the development sector, and stakeholders.

Accessing climate finance is a crucial aspect of climate action, and the PSF, as our country’s first adaptation finance mechanism, is dedicated to support LGUs by providing grants to local climate adaptation projects.

For this year, 196 million pesos were already granted to four municipalities for multi-year programs on climate-resilient agriculture, ridge-to-reef disaster risk reduction systems, ecological farming, and a climate field school for farmers and fisherfolk.

These grants, however, are not mere dole-outs. Project proposals must be founded on climate science and must address the prevailing risks and vulnerabilities of the communities.

We therefore encourage convergence among LGUs, local academe, civil society, and stakeholders to bring about PSF proposals that are borne out of their need and which they would really aspire to develop and implement.

We have always recognized the value of science and academic research, as a means to inform policy and practice. But the process should also be as participatory as possible, with great consideration on the practical knowledge and experiences of our people within the communities.

Our LGUs may have the best plans founded on tedious climate research and data, but even when the science is clear on which direction we should go, we cannot really go that far without the involvement of our people. In this case, we can never achieve resilience without our people yearning and supporting efforts to be climate-resilient.

And our actions do not have to be solely dependent on climate finance and technologies. As what we learned from the purok system of Camotes Island in Cebu, engaging and coordinating with the people is key to saving lives and achieving a zero-casualty count even in the face of a typhoon as ruthless as Yolanda.

We need to go beyond these tragedies and bring about many more stories of resilience here in Leyte, Samar, Tacloban, and the rest of Visayas, and across the Philippines.

Through this conference, I hope that we not only deepen our knowledge and understanding, but may we also learn how to engage other people to enable them to participate in our efforts to address climate change.

The IPCC already provides the best recourse for us in saving more lives and living more sustainably in light of climate change. But as our IPCC experts said, what is deemed possible by the report may not always be feasible. It is now up to us to follow through on the information given to us.

As leaders, policymakers, planners, and implementers in our respective fields, we need to heed the call of 1.5°C and inspire many more others in the call for greater and more ambitious climate action.

I am very thankful for the vibrant involvement of our government agencies, the academe, civil society, development partners, and the climate advocates in advancing our common cause.

Once again, to the Philippine Haiyan Advocacy Cooperative and to all of you here today, thank you very much for making this conference a meaningful one.

May we all work together towards reaching our goals for our people and our nation.