Press Release
May 14, 2009

Loren challenges leaders to beat climate change

In the wake of the Coral Triangle Initiative Leaders' Summit in Manado, Indonesia, Loren challenges the heads of the six Coral Triangle countries -- Indonesia, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and the Philippines -- to arrest the impending impacts of climate change on coral reefs and coastal resources.

The Coral Triangle houses 76% of known coral species, 33% of the world's coral reefs, and has the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world. It is estimated that the value of these resources amounts to US $2.3 Billion. "It will be a tragedy for the entire human race if we lose these coastal resources to human irresponsibility and climate change," Senator Loren Legarda said.

While Loren acknowledges that regional efforts are ongoing, she urges government parties to the Coral Triangle Initiative to ensure that the agreed plan of action is mainstreamed into their national policies and programs. "All governments must think, talk, and act green," Loren said.

As Asia-Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation appointed by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Loren also exhorted leaders in the region and the globe to be exemplars in their respective nations. "Leaders must set the example to inspire their people who will be most affected by climate change."

According to Loren, who is also the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on

Climate Change and the Oversight Committee on Climate Change, the Philippines "must respond quickly to the threats of climate change." The Philippines, which is at the apex of the Coral Triangle, is an archipelago with a total coastline of over 18,000 kilometers and replete with marine resources.

However, 70% of its coral reefs are in poor to fair condition due to dynamite fishing and trawling. This condition will be further aggravated by stress on reef ecosystems and changes in salinity brought about by accelerated sea level rise.

Furthermore, a mere one meter rise in sea level is estimated to submerge 129,000 hectares of land in 28 of the 80 provinces of the Philippines. According to a study of the Asian Development Bank released last month, the sea level rise will affect 70% of the country's towns and cities in coastal areas. A 1.5-2.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature in 50-100 years will put 30% of flora and fauna species at risk of extinction.

"The effects of climate change on our resources and our people are real and felt. Poverty, food security, and livelihood are already burdening the common citizen. To compound this, disasters resulting from climate change constantly bring hardships to communities. In this scenario, the poor are the most vulnerable," Loren lamented.

Based on the ADB study, the total costs of climate change impacts could be the equivalent of 6.7% of Southeast Asian nations' GDP each year. In view of this finding, Loren emphasized, "the duty of governments is clear. While we cannot reverse climate change, we can beat it by minimizing its impacts. Governments must strictly implement climate change adaptation measures and disaster risk reduction strategies under an integrated framework."

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