Press Release
November 7, 2008

Legarda delivers Philippines' position on current global crises at the UN Economic and Social Council

Senator Loren Legarda, in a statement delivered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last November 3, said that the UN Economic and Social Council's focus on sustainable development coincides with the Philippines' position on cross-cutting issues such as climate change, the gender gap and the food crisis ?aspects of which add to the overall challenges faced by developing countries.

The ECOSOC is the central UN forum for discussing international economic and social issues as well as for formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states of the United Nations.

As an active participant of global efforts in addressing the said issues, the Philippines, Legarda stated, is calling for greater focus on adaptation rather than mitigation with regard to the climate crisis as this involves reduction of underlying vulnerabilities, building of response capacities and managing of climate risks.

Following the results of the global consultative meeting, convened by Legarda with the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, held in the country last October and embodied in "The Manila Call for Action of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation," the senator resounded the parliamentarians' entreaty to the UN and the International Parliamentary Union to transform the Hyogo Framework for Action (the guide for effective disaster reduction at a national level) into an internationally binding legal instrument.

Legarda likewise highlighted the fact that the Philippines ranks fourth in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, and is the only Asian nation to make it to the top ten. "The achievement indicates the country's progress in narrowing the gender gap, though this is still not reflective of women's vulnerability in the face of current global crises," Legarda said.

The senator has previously tackled this issue, specifically at the recent Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance, where she urged policymakers to formulate more gender responsive legislation and programs related to gender in climate change and disaster risk reduction. With the climate change agenda being driven largely by men, current policies have not recognized the gender-specific effects of climate change especially since women bear the brunt of climate change's savagery.

In terms of the food crisis, the Philippines clearly has a multi-faceted role. Shortages of almost every commodity due to the effects of global warming, supply disruption, skyrocketing oil prices and the world population explosion has resulted in what The Economist magazine calls "agflation," a sharp rise in prices of agricultural commodities.

Food makes up around 55% of an average Filipino household's budget; of that percentage, rice makes up 15%. "As one of the world's largest importers of rice, the country is expected to remain critically engaged in the problem solving process," Legarda said.

"The number and severity of these global crises challenge the UN system, and all UN Member States as well, in terms of trying to find quick, coherent, comprehensive and coordinated responses to the multi-dimensional and, oftentimes, inter-related effects of these problems," Legarda added.

She emphasized the Philippines' support for the recommendations to rationalize the functions of the ECOSOC and the commissions, as well as the need for the inclusion of civil society, the local government and the private sector for better cooperation.

Exhorting the importance of community involvement, Senator Legarda further added that: "I believe that the developmental pillar of the UN must be pushed forward on the basis of a multi-stakeholder approach, as this is the only manner that we can ensure that policy recommendations, negotiated resolutions and program implementation can have any real meaning to the ordinary person."

Legarda has already addressed the UN General Assembly last week in New York when she urged world ministers to refocus attention on "climate-related disasters" amidst the current global financial crisis. She reminded policymakers and ministers of a "real risk" that the awareness campaign waged for decades by advocates may be "eclipsed" by recent global financial events.

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