Press Release
June 7, 2014

Villar: ASEM conference should include risk of reclamation projects to environment and disaster management

Sen. Cynthia Villar today said visiting leaders from Asia and Europe should include in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) agenda the risk posed by development projects such as reclamation, in mitigating the effects of disasters. "Imprudent reclamation projects are blamed for rising sea levels, stronger storm surges and vast flooding in coastal areas. Our leaders should make sure public interest and not profit, is the foremost consideration before allowing these reclamation projects to proceed," Villar said.

The Philippines is hosting the ASEM Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management from June 4 to 6 where some 150 senior national and local government officials, scientists, academicians, policymakers, industry and business leaders, non-governmental organizations, leaders from the private sector and representatives of regional and international organizations from 36 countries in Asia and Europe attended the conference.

Villar noted that the holding of the ASEM coincided with the celebration of the World Environment Day, the United Nations' principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

"Let it be our conscious effort to protect the environment and veer away from undertaking environment-invasive measures, sometimes disguised as development that tend to increase the vulnerability of people to disasters and the realities of climate change," she added.

Villar said the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area (LPPCHEA), included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, is being threatened by a proposed reclamation project.

"LPPCHEA has a mangrove forest that studies claim can reduce the impact of storm surges in coastal areas," Villar said. LPPCHEA serves as sanctuary for 84 bird species, including migratory birds from as far as Siberia. It is also a home to the globally endangered Philippine duck Chinese egret and black stilt.

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