Press Release
March 15, 2010


The private sector must become government's partner in fighting climate change, including the disasters that it brings such as the Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng floods of 2009. It should collaborate with government in order to put in place measures to protect life and property against destructive natural forces.

NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda stressed this point in her speech before the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), scientists, urban planners, members of the diplomatic corps, LGUs, and SUCs at the conference entitled "Engineering Resilience: Beyond Climate Change Adaptation" on Monday at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

"Today I am taking a break from the political campaign, in order to campaign on an urgent, critical issue -- dealing with the effects of climate change and addressing our vulnerabilities. The time of climate change cynics is over. We have no time for apathy and inaction. Climate change is real issue, felt by the poorest of our people," she said.

She cited the plight of farmers against El Nino, hunger, poverty, and the spread of and disease as "daily consequences of climate change".

Public officials have been taking steps to put in place policies to fight climate change, such as the Climate Change Act, of which Legarda was the principal author and which was signed by the President in October 2009.

"But legislation can only go so far," Legarda said. "It is by harnessing the efforts of collaboration, and effecting change with a strong foundation built on our own experiences and that of other nations, and backed by scientific data that we can we can make our country better prepared to face the worst natural disasters and minimize damage and the loss of life."

Legarda set down three goals government-private sector collaboration must aim for the fight against climate change.

First, building codes and zoning policies should be strictly enforced. This calls for stamping out corruption that gets around these rules. "This means not placing people, homes, and industries in high risk areas," Legarda said.

Second, the country's ecosystems, 60 percent of which is declining, must be protected. Both the government and the private sector must be aware of "trade-offs" in exploiting natural resources.

As examples, she cited mangrove plantations that when turned into shrimp ponds increases the risk of storm surge and cleaning forests for agriculture that increases the risk of landslides and flooding.

"Development should reduce rather than produce risks to our society and our economy. Development should promote resilient investments," Legarda said.

Third, agricultural productivity must be improved because 75 percent of the poor depend on it. This calls for removing barriers such as inequitable land distributing, lack of access to seed and irrigation technology, and lack of economic diversification.

Improving the livelihood of farmers, she pointed out, would allow them to recover more quickly from disaster losses.

Legarda based her points on the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, which found that the problems caused by natural disasters stem from "poor urban governance, vulnerable rural livelihoods, and ecosystems decline."

As proof the effectiveness of the collaboration between the government and the private sector she cited the conference itself, where she was speaking.

The conference is a partnership of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering working hand in hand with the Manila Observatory.

"This sort of collaboration breaks down old barriers and forges new paths that will benefit the Philippines and, hopefully, the entire world," she said.

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