Video Message: 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum Plenary Session

October 17, 2018

Video Message of Senator Loren Legarda
6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum
Plenary Session: “Local Governments at the Forefront”
October 17, 2018 | ADB, Ortigas

On behalf of the Philippines and our fellow hosts, good morning and thank you for your participation in the 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.

I am privileged to deliver my message for this panel session on “Local Governments at the Forefront,” as I accept the new challenge of serving in the newly formed Global Commission on Adaptation.

At the global stage, we are forging a bold, strategic vision for adaptation. But we must then contextualize our discussions on our efforts on the ground: climate action is local. The measure of resilience is not about the number of policies, or the amount of budget, or the extent of our assistance to communities, but on how effective these mechanisms are in actually saving lives, livelihoods, and resources from climate impacts.

For us in the Philippines, adaptation is a matter of survival. We have been urging both our public and private sectors to embrace adaptation and to work together for a secure and resilient future.

It is a simple call to action that I know resonates well with you, as delegates of our neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific region. In the last century, our region accounted for 91% of the world’s total deaths due to disasters[1] and is expected to bear 40% of global economic losses from disasters from 2015-2030[2] due to our region’s climate and disaster risks.

Inevitably, our local governments must act as our first line of defense in any disaster.

Let me start off with the story of Guiuan, a small town along the eastern seaboard, where Typhoon Haiyan  made first landfall.

Five years since Haiyan turned it into a wasteland, Guiuan is now a model of resilience. It has become a pioneer with its Climate Change Adaptation Framework (CCAF), which provides guidance on which systems to be prioritized during climate and disaster impacts, and identifies the roles of stakeholders in climate action.

Moreover, its island of Suluan, the first island hit by Haiyan, is now on its way to becoming the town’s “renewable energy island capital,” buoyed by concerted efforts of the municipal government and civil society groups.

Neighbor to Guiuan is Camotes Island in Cebu, famed for its zero casualty count in the wake of Haiyan. This accomplishment is heavily attributed to their purok system, wherein the people are grouped into smaller units within their communities and appointed purok leaders can therefore easily disseminate information and coordinate evacuation.

A zero-casualty record was once deemed unattainable, but Camotes Island is one local government unit, alongside Batanes and Albay, that can attest to have achieved it.

In 2016, Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines, was immediately placed under state of calamity due to Supertyphoon Meranti (or Ferdie), which was considered the strongest storm since Haiyan. Despite its wreckage, the province recorded no casualties.

Meanwhile, the province of Albay attributes their zero casualty record—most notably in the wake of Typhoon Rammasun (or Glenda), which mauled the region for eight hours straight—to their “preemptive evacuation” strategies.

With winds of over 180 kilometers per hour, Glenda wrought damage in Albay amounting to Php9.1 billion and rendering an estimate of 98,000 families homeless—but all safe in evacuation centers and temporary shelters.

For these LGUs, it is not only desirable to establish systems and building institutions to implement the plan. It is important to nurture a relationship with their community, so the people can understand better and participate in carrying out their local governments’ plans.

This is the kind of relationship we want to foster between the LGUs and the communities they cater to when accessing the People’s Survival Fund or PSF, which is an annual allocation to provide grants for adaptation projects by local government units.

To a large extent, it is important to consult local academic institutions on available climate science and data, and civil society on practical knowledge and experiences in producing quality project proposals. PSF proposals must be founded on actual adaptation needs and aspirations of the communities.

This December, there is a tall order from all countries to finalize the work programme of the Paris Agreement in COP24 in Katowice, Poland. I hope that through this forum we also amplify our call for scaled up climate finance and inspire greater climate action from all nations.

Thank you very much.

[1] Global Environment Outlook 6 – Regional Assessment for Asia and the Pacific –

[2] Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017.