Press Release
October 8, 2010

Loren Changes The Game In Asia In The Global Pursuit
Of Green and Sustainable Development

Senator Loren Legarda, United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia and the Pacific, calls on world leaders and policy makers to redefine development, commit anew and invest more in reducing disaster risks, in order to achieve sustainable development.

"We need to finally change the game as disasters and climate change have revealed our socio-economic vulnerabilities," Legarda explains. "Though twelve months have passed, just revisiting the impacts of Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi still causes alarm. 2 million families or 10 million individuals were affected in the flooding or landslides. Nearly a thousand perished. Total damage and losses amounted to US$ 4.4 billion. We should ask ourselves: what have we learned from this?"

Senator Legarda lamented that our contemporary development practices have been irresponsible "since they have allowed disaster risks to grow, to spread, and to prevail until today. Urban poverty, weak governance, ecosystems decline, vulnerable rural livelihoods, turbo-charged by climate change, altogether created enormous risks in our cities and communities and have put the poor in greater peril." "What then remains to be done to achieve disaster-resilient development?"

Senator Legarda enumerated priority actions that she has been putting forward: "Firstly, we must strengthen governance in the urban centers. This means putting a stop to corruption. This means enforcing strictly building codes and zoning policies. This means not placing people, homes, and industries in high risk areas. Secondly, we must protect our ecosystems for when we cut down forests, we actually increase landslide risk. Thirdly, we must enhance rural livelihoods which 75% of the poor depend on to subsist. This means improving agricultural productivity and supporting our farmers better. "

Citing a study of the Asian Development Bank on the economics of climate change, Senator Legarda emphasized the cost-effectiveness of investing in disaster risk reduction.

"If we are to do nothing, climate related risks will create a 6% decline of the Philippines Gross Domestic Product annually by 2100.The same study found that if the Philippines would invest 0.5% of its GDP by 2020 in climate change adaptation, it can avert losses of up to 4% of its GDP by 2100 -- clearly a short term investment with a long term eight fold gain."

"The challenge in politics and governance has never been more pronounced and more compelling than in the present. The time to redefine development is now," Legarda asserts.

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