The Politics of Climate Change and its 21st Century Challenges

February 19, 2014


Opening Address

“The Politics of Climate Change and its

21st Century Challenges”

Museum of the Filipino People, Manila

19 February 2014


(Standard Greetings)

In 2013, a total of 25 typhoons visited the Philippines, way above the usual average of 20 typhoons a year.


As a country exposed to storms, Filipinos should now be experts in preparing for typhoons; we should now be typhoon-resilient at the very least. After all, we have already experienced Ondoy, Pepeng, Pablo and Sendong. Unfortunately, Yolanda happened and we only realize that we have yet to do what we ought to do.


The frequency and strength of recent typhoons that we are experiencing point to one glaring fact: climate change is undeniably in our midst, increasing the risks of disaster in vulnerable cities and communities.


The World Bank warns that a 4-degree Celsius global temperature would cause flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions are expected to become drier while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones, and loss of biodiversity.


There is no more fitting time to say that reducing disaster risk and climate-proofing our livelihood and development gains and goals have become a moral imperative for governments and a social responsibility for all than now—when having less in life means losing life.


Every time a disaster strikes and devastates our communities, we realize the risks and the challenges. We seek for solutions, we seek the opinion of experts; but the greater challenge is heeding the advice and taking the necessary action.


Until we have taken it upon ourselves that the key to climate change adaptation and mitigation lies in each and every individual’s effort to be part of the solution, then the greatest challenge we will have to fight to combat the warming climate and its effects is our own indifference.


I believe that the urgency to take action on this prevailing climate crisis has brought us to assemble in this hall, fully aware of our capacity as leaders and makers of laws to protect our people, secure future generations, and preserve the viability of life on Earth.


Our action should enable us to revisit and rethink our current frameworks and strategies for socio-economic development. For through the centuries, our development approaches and practices have allowed disaster vulnerabilities to grow, to spread, and to pervade until today.


Our action should enable us to espouse a new brand of politics—the kind of politics that has genuine regard for human development and a forceful vision for the future of humanity; the kind of politics that ushers proactive laws and policies and reforms our conventional way of thinking and doing.


There will be many more typhoons and other natural hazards that will come our way. We cannot sit idly by and watch our communities repeatedly suffer from disasters magnified by climate change.


We must work to improve the quality of life and to build a sustainable and resilient human society.


Thank you.