Press Release
December 1, 2008

Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction:
A Profile of Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines

"It is time to review the legislative progress in adhering to the Hyogo Framework for Action, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Bali Plan of Action. Accordingly, I resound the Parliamentarians' entreaty to the United Nations and the International Parliamentary Union to commence the process of transforming the Hyogo Framework for Action to an internationally binding legal instrument. We are convinced that this would strengthen our commitments and ensure the realization of the goals and objectives of the Hyogo Framework for Action."

- Senator Loren Legarda in her speech on the Philippine Policy Statement on Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on October 27, 2008.

Since the beginning of her public service career, Senator Loren Legarda has made the environment her personal advocacy. In 1998, she established Luntiang Pilipinas (Green Philippines), a nationwide urban forestry program, to promote public awareness and multi-sectoral participation in various environmental issues. To date, the foundation has established forest parks with more than two million trees planted in more than 500 hectares of land across the Philippines.

To mark the 10th year anniversary of Luntiang Pilipinas this year, Loren Legarda launched [email protected]: The 10 Million Trees Campaign, an online campaign to encourage individuals, private corporations and business groups, and government agencies and local government units to contribute to planting ten million trees by the year 2011. Similar to the initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which aims to plant seven billion trees by 2009, the campaign complements Luntian's ongoing tree-planting activities in numerous towns, cities, schools, and along major thoroughfares all over the country.

For her unfaltering crusade for the environment, the Davos World Economic Forum 2000 named Loren Legarda as one of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow. In 2001 in Turin, Italy, UNEP honored her as UNEP Laureate and included her name in the Global 500 Roll of Honour for being in the frontline of global environment action. In 2004, the Priyadarshni Academy in Mumbai, India honored her as the Environment Awardee.

More recently, Sen. Loren Legarda, together with the United Nations Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), convened the First Consultative Meeting with Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Manila in October 2008. Leading the discussion on how disaster risk reduction can be adopted as the fundamental tool for climate change adaptation, she steered the meeting towards a consensus to mainstream disaster risk reduction in legislative initiatives, to strengthen the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to transform the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 into a legally binding instrument, and to support the Bali Plan of Action, all of which are now embodied in The Manila Call for Action of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.

Sen. Loren Legarda subsequently presented The Manila Call for Action at the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance where she addressed 260 women policy and decision makers from all over the world. The Manila Call for Action served as the inspiration and model for The Manila Declaration for Global Action on Gender, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, which called on Governments to comply with international commitments on gender equality and urged them to pursue gender-responsive plans and strategies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

At this year's United Nations General Assembly, Sen. Loren Legarda delivered the Philippine Policy Statement on Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 before the Plenary Session of the Second Committee. She affirmed the Philippines' commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and urged the international community to remain committed to the climate change and sustainable development agenda. She also echoed the call for transforming the Hyogo Framework of Action into an internationally binding legal instrument. At the ensuing UN Economic and Social Council Meeting, she reiterated the Philippines' position on cross-cutting issues such as disaster risk reduction and climate change, the gender gap, and the food crisis � challenges that developing countries face today.

At the recently held 8th Annual Conference of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank, Senator Loren Legarda urged legislators to take a pro-active role in advancing disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in order to protect lives and livelihoods. She also called on legislators of the world to strengthen their political commitment to developing a legal and institutional framework conducive to disaster risk reduction and to providing an effective response to tackle climate change-induced disasters. Further, she emphasized the importance of linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to protect people from disasters, especially those from developing countries who are highly at risk.

As Philippine legislator, Sen. Loren Legarda has authored and sponsored vital legislation geared towards environmental protection, the most significant of which is the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001. She also co-authored the Clean Air Act. Aside from these, she filed the Philippine Climate Change Bill, which seeks to create the Climate Change Commission and to mainstream climate change in policy formulation, development planning, and poverty reduction programs, among other development processes undertaken by the Government. She filed also the resolution that seeks the creation of the Oversight Committee on Climate Change, and another that called for the adoption of the Albay Declaration on Climate Change Adaptation which the Philippine Senate passed in February 2008.

Aware of the worsening state of Philippine environment and its ill effects on the health and security of Filipinos, Sen. Loren Legarda recently delivered privilege speeches at the Halls of Senate, entitled "CPR for Mother Earth" and "An Agenda for Climate Change Adaptation", as part of her advocacy and information campaign on disaster risk reduction and environmental protection. Her speeches, converted into lectures, are now being distributed to public schools nationwide to inspire the youth to act and to care for the environment. In November 2008, she produced and launched the 45-minute documentary drama film Ulan sa Tag-Araw: Isang Dokyu-drama Ukol sa Pagbabagong Klima (Rains in Summer: A Documentary Drama on Climate Change), which tackles the significant social, economic and health impacts of climate change in the Philippines and calls upon Filipinos to participate in the environmental cause.

As broadcast journalist before entering politics, Loren Legarda received the national honor of the Ten Outstanding Young Men and Women (TOYM) Award.

In Philippine political history, Loren Legarda is the only woman who has topped the national election for the Senate twice, first in 1998 garnering over 15 million votes and then in 2007 with over 18 million votes. She was also the first woman majority floor leader of the Philippine Senate.

What is an Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction?

The Asia and Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction is an honorary title designated by the UNISDR on someone from the region who embodies its mission and ideals in advocating and advancing disaster risk reduction. The Regional Champion is a person of integrity who has consistently demonstrated a deep concern for the world's poor and a commitment to making the world a safer and better place for all.

In addition, the Regional Champion is someone who has shown a strong desire to help mobilize public interest in, and support for, purposes and principles that promote the core values of human development in general and the five priority areas of the Hyogo Framework for Action in particular. Through her achievements, the Regional Champion has demonstrated success in motivating people and mobilizing various sectors towards action, and a proven ability to connect with a wide variety of audiences and to reach out to key stakeholders including policy and decision makers.

Along with this designation, the Regional Champion, together with UNISDR, will advocate and promote the goals, activities, and implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, at all levels.

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