Senator Loren Legarda today echoed the call of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to prioritize and integrate local capacity building in the government’s national program on disaster risk reduction.
“I support the call of President Yudhoyono to strengthen disaster risk reduction efforts through the creation of disaster-resilient villages, advancement of multi-stakeholder participation, development of local human and technical capacity, financing of local capacity-building programs, coordination of national and local capacity, and integration of small-scale disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives into local development processes,” said Legarda, the United Nations (UN) Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.
Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change, has vigorously advocated for the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) into local and national development plans. She has conducted several regional DRR and CCA workshops for local governments, non-government organizations, business and community leaders, students, media, and various stakeholders across the country.
“The best choice we have is to make our nation disaster-resilient to free us, once and for all, from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time nature unleashes its wrath. Building a disaster-resilient country should be everybody’s business. We all have to work together—the national government, the LGUs, the private sector—in ensuring that our country and all our citizens are ready to prevent hazards from turning into devastating disasters,” she said.
Legarda, who was recently recognized by the United Nations as a Hero of Resilience, said that the Philippine legislature has taken a proactive stance in building the nation’s resilience to disasters by passing two laws, the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which were both cited by Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, as among the best laws in the world.
Legarda also sponsored the People’s Survival Fund Law, which mandated the appropriation of one billion pesos annually for the financing of climate change adaptation projects of local governments and organizations.
“We need to empower local leaders who have the privilege to translate national policies, plans and programs into concrete and visible actions for the people,” she said.
According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report entitled “Reducing Vulnerability and Exposure to Disasters”, the average number of people exposed to yearly flooding in Asia has increased by more than 50% from 29.5 million to 63.8 million in the last forty years, from 1970 to 2010.
Furthermore, a study jointly undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank, predicted that a major flood in Metro Manila could cause damages equivalent to almost a quarter of the metropolitan area’s GDP or 560 billion pesos.
The 5th AMCDRR, which is currently being held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from October 22-25, is expected to discuss mechanisms by which governments could integrate local level disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts in National Development Planning.***