Press Release
November 20, 2010

Loren steers Asian Parliamentarians' meet on reducing disaster risk to achieve Millennium Development Goals

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change and Foreign Relations will convene a consultative meeting for Asian parliamentarians to discuss actions that parliamentarians can take and lead in order to increase the resilience of Asian countries to disasters and climate change. With the topic of Disaster Risk Reduction: An Instrument for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the meeting takes place in Manila from 25 to 27 November 2010 at the Makati Shangrila Hotel.

In cooperation with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Asian Network of Parliamentarians for Population and Development, the meeting aims to provide a forum for leading parliamentarians from Asian countries to share insights on why disaster risk reduction is important for achieving sustainable socio-economic development and the MDG in particular, what governments still need to do, and how parliamentarians can make the needed change happen.

"Parliamentarians play a pivotal role in today's historic effort to achieve the MDG -- clear, measurable targets for reducing poverty by 2015 that were set by heads of state at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000," said Legarda. "No responsible politician would want the government to waste millions on building schools that may collapse on children. No parliamentarian would want to see the poor and most vulnerable repeatedly knocked back into extreme poverty due to lack of investments for disaster and climate risk reduction."

Among the countries represented in the parliamentarian meeting include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. The United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlström will join Senator Loren Legarda in convening the meeting.

Legarda challenged her fellow lawmakers: "As responsible leaders, we must ensure that development pursuits do not drive disaster risks. We must also always ensure that our people, our economy, and our development investments for our country are all protected from the risks and impacts of disasters and climate change."

The 2010 Asia Pacific Disaster Report recently released by UNISDR and ESCAP cited that the people of the Asia-Pacific region are four times more likely to be affected by disasters from natural hazards than those living in Africa, and 25 times more likely than those living in Europe or North America. The region also accounted for a staggering 85 percent of disaster-related deaths and 38 percent of global economic losses during 1980-2009.

"Parliamentarians are political leaders mandated by the people to convey local concerns to national governments, oversee national progress and investments, and campaign on issues affecting the daily lives and livelihoods of their constituents. When they legislate for disaster-resilient development and promote disaster risk reduction in their constituencies, everybody and the entire country win," explained Senator Legarda who authored and took an active role in the passage of the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

The expected results of the parliamentarians' meeting, according to Legarda, include: (1) better understanding of the progress and challenges in disaster risk reduction in Asia; (2) increased understanding of disaster risk reduction and its links with socio economic development, and MDG initiatives; and (3) roles and responsibilities of politicians identified in using disaster risk reduction as a tool for climate change adaptation, promoting disaster resilient schools, and hospitals, and poverty reduction and investment in disaster risk reduction.

"Disaster risk reduction pays. For every one dollar put into disaster prevention results in as much as seven dollars saved in post-disaster aid," Legarda justified. "Therefore, parliamentarians must be fully aware of their mandate and moral responsibility to lead the way in protecting development gains from disasters, especially in this era of rapidly increasing disaster risks due to the combined effects of inequitable economic growth, population pressures and extreme climate events," Legarda added.

"I am hopeful that the meeting will conclude with all participating parliamentarians appreciating even more profoundly the importance of disaster risk reduction as an instrument for achieving the MDG and as a readily implementable means for adapting to climate change," Legarda shared.

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