Press Release
October 28, 2008

Legarda delivers speech at the UN Assembly in New York

Senator Loren Legarda delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City Monday afternoon (New York time) urging world ministers to refocus attention on "climate-related disasters" amidst hype on the global financial crisis.

Top world ministers and policymakers from 190 nations gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York City for the Plenary Session of the Economic and Financial Committee of the UN General Assembly.

Legarda warned policymakers and ministers that the awareness campaign waged for decades by environment advocates may be overshadowed by current financial woes in the United States. In the speech, Legarda emphasized that the challenge for world leaders now should still include sustaining a "strong focus on climate change" and reducing "climate-related disasters more effectively."

"In this time of global financial crisis, there is a real risk that the newfound awareness and concern for climate change may be eclipsed by the startling plummet of the financial market," Legarda said.

In 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Industrialized economies were initially reluctant to accede to the UNFCCC for fear that its implementation would reduce competitiveness.

"Whereas we have succeeded in elevating climate change and disaster risk to international consciousness, we now tackle the challenge of establishing a conspicuous and indelible space in this consciousness amidst this financial downturn," Legarda added.

Legarda flew to New York to report on the outcome of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Consultative Meeting with Parliamentarians, which she co-organized in Manila last October 17-18.

The final output of the meeting is a document called The Manila Call for Action of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. The "Manila Call for Action" calls on governments to advance disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at national and international levels and to make disaster risk reduction the primary tool for climate change adaptation at national and local levels.

Before flying to New York, Legarda reported the outcome of the said meeting before the Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance (CAPWIP) which was subsequently held in Manila.

In New York, Legarda also pointed out that disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change serve to reduce the incidence of hunger and eventually, poverty especially in developing nations. She drew attention to the Philippines as a disaster-prone poor country with a high incidence of hunger among the poor. The Philippines experience an average of 20 typhoons every year, some of which result in widespread destruction in agriculture, infrastructure, and other livelihood.

The poor comprise 33% of the Philippine population. In October this year, the Social Weather Station reported that 3.3 million Filipino families experienced hunger in the past three months.

Also present in the General Assembly were other concerned UN agencies, civil society and nongovernmental organization delegates.

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