Press Release
November 25, 2010

Legarda Leads Opening of Asian Parliamentarian Meet

"Disaster and climate risk reduction is our most daunting task today!" The United Nation's Asia-Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Senator Loren Legarda, today welcomes legislators, officials and representatives from nine different countries in Asia for a three-day Consultative Meeting for Asian Parliamentarians with a theme, "Disaster Risk Reduction: An Instrument for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)."

Legislators from the Philippines, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, and Nepal will join Legarda in the conference, which was organized in cooperation with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Asian Network of Parliamentarians for Population and Development.

Other special guests include Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Mr. Shiv Khare of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians for Population and Development, and Madame Margareta Wahlström, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.

In her opening statement, Legarda, Chairman of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Climate Change, enjoined her fellow parliamentarians to assume an active role in addressing development problems that have become even more daunting as ever.

"If there is one development issue that cuts across all other development concerns, it is disaster risk reduction. Resolving this issue is today's most daunting task for all sectors since disasters abound and are getting bigger, deadlier and worse," she said.

"Inequitable economic growth, population pressures and extreme climate events have connived to increase disaster risks in our midst. Poor urban governance, ecosystems decline and vulnerable rural livelihoods have also become principal sources of risk, driving disaster vulnerability and poverty, the reduction of which is foremost among the Millennium Development Goals," she added. Legarda said political leaders play a critical role and must assume moral responsibility in arresting this chronic development problem.

She further explained that as lawmakers, they have the mandate to introduce change and to ensure that it happens by: (1) Creating the enabling policy environment for effective disaster risk reduction; (2) Urging their respective governments to develop risk reduction strategies supportive of national development agenda; and (3) Laying the foundation for increased investment in risk reduction in order to safeguard development gains.

"Our mission of reducing disaster risks should transcend political boundaries and our calls for action should echo through the challenging times ahead. Our vision of improved socio-economic standards and quality of living for our people compels to constantly renew our commitment to responsible and effective political leadership, governance, and public service and to work towards a more sustainable world and more resilient human societies for many generations to come," Legarda concluded.

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