Senator Loren Legarda today enjoined government officials from Southeast and South Asia to double and expedite efforts on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA), stressing that Asia Pacific is more affected by natural hazards than other regions.
The Senator made the call during the Training Workshop for National and Local Governments in Southeast Asia and South Asia on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, which was organized by ICLEI, an organization of local governments committed to make environmental sustainability a central part of the development process.
The event was attended by government officials from the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Legarda, the United Nations Champion for DRR and CCA in Asia and the Pacific, said that governments in Asia have more reason to speed up and strengthen their efforts to make their countries disaster-resilient since a 2010 UN report revealed that citizens of the Asia-Pacific region are four times more at risk of being affected by disasters than those in Africa, and 25 times more than those in Europe or North America.
“The flooding in the Southern Region of the Philippines last December has left more than a thousand people dead and ten million others struggling to rebuild their lives. Also in 2011, Cambodia, Thailand and Bangladesh went through devastating floods, which are among the worst in their history; Pakistan suffered from severe inundation in 2010 and 2011. These extreme weather events are certainly bound to recur, perhaps with even worse outcomes if we are not prepared,” she pointed out.
“While we await concrete global action, our respective nations must sustain efforts in addressing climate impacts. We must link DRR and CCA to national and local development planning,” she added.
Legarda explained that governments must resolve to build homes, schools, and hospitals that are safe and secure amidst natural hazards; design and construct roads, bridges and other infrastructure that help spur economic growth with disaster risk reduction in mind; and, recover and rebuild from any disaster impacts with building-back-better-and-greener as objective.
“As leaders, we have to make the right choice for our people and their future. We have the mandate to introduce change and to ensure that it happens; and local government leaders, being closest to the people, have the privilege to translate national policies, plans and programs into concrete and visible actions for the people. Now is the time to give nothing less than our wholehearted commitment to a safer world, a more resilient human society for many generations to come,” Legarda concluded.***