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Speeches & Transcripts November 29, 2017

Philippines: Speech for Disaster Risk and Crisis Management Forum

Dr. Jikyeong Kang, President & Dean, Asian Institute of Management

Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippine Senate

Amy Leung, Director-General, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department of the Asian Development Bank

Vinod Thomas, Special Adviser to AIM, and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank

Members of the Knowledge for Development Community

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;

Good morning.

It’s an honor for me to open this international conference on climate change and disaster risk management. It is impressive to see such large participation in this conference from leaders and representatives from the private sector, civil society, development partners, the government, and other sectoral groups.  Your presence here today clearly shows the ever-increasing attention of the global community on these very important issues.

Climate change is an acute threat to global development and our collective efforts to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. Communities around the world are being devastated by droughts, floods, more intense and unpredictable storms, and sea-level rise.  And as we know, when disasters strike, it is always the poor who are most vulnerable and suffer the most.  Without urgent action, the impact of climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030.

The Philippines ranks high on most global indices for vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters. Over the long term, losses due to earthquakes, tropical cyclones and floods are estimated to be PHP206 billion or 1.8% of GDP in direct losses and PHP42.2 billion or 3.6% of total government expenditure in emergency losses per year.

Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, is still fresh in our minds. It took more than 6,000 lives, displaced many more, devastated livelihood and properties, and pushed more than 2 million people below the poverty line.

The long - term vision of Filipinos for the future of the Philippines, embodied in Ambisyon 2040, is for “a high-trust society where families thrive in vibrant, culturally diverse, and resilient communities.” Typhoon Yolanda continues to remind all Filipinos of the important task ahead to build the resilience of Philippine society and protect the country and its people from future disasters. 

The government is working hard in a proactive and responsive manner to achieve this vision. Its enactment of a comprehensive set of policies, programs and institutions for dealing with climate change and improving resiliency to natural disasters is commendable, and contributes to global efforts.

As early as 2009, the passage of the Climate Change Act creating the Climate Change Commission to lead the development of policies and coordinate government programs on climate change, is noteworthy.

The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (DRRM) Act of 2010 is also critical, as it has played an important role in shifting the country’s focus from disaster response to more proactive disaster risk reduction and preparedness, also enhancing the convergence between adaptation and disaster risk reduction actions.

Moreover, the DRRM Act laid the legal foundation in the Philippines for a strong reform agenda to strengthen the institutional capacity for climate adaptation and disaster risk management of national and local governments, and to integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in planning and investment prioritization at all levels of government.

The Philippines has also been a global leader in developing innovative financial solutions to mitigate the financial impacts of extreme climate and weather related events, as well as major earthquakes.  For example, just 5 months ago, the Philippines with support from the World Bank, launched a new catastrophe risk insurance program to help the country better respond to losses from climate and disaster risks.  This innovative insurance program, the first of its kind in East Asia, provides coverage for national government assets, and those of participating provinces, against losses from major typhoons and earthquakes.

But beyond planning and financing, there is also a strong recognition in the Philippines that much needs to be done on the ground to help Filipino citizens, especially the poor, adapt to the effects of climate change. On this front, the government is rolling up its sleeves and taking action. One important activity worth highlighting is the implementation of the flood management master plan for Metro Manila and surrounding cities.  The first stage in the implementation of this master plan - the Metro Manila Flood Management Project Phase 1 – will begin early  in 2018 with support from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In recent years the Philippines has also played a significant role within the global community, through the COP21 in Paris and subsequent Senate ratification this year of the Philippines’ commitment, and as an active participant and leader in the V20 – the Vulnerable 20 Group of Ministers of Finance.

A common thread through all of these accomplishments in the Philippines so far is convergence.  Climate change is a complex problem. Actions, whether they be policy or project implementation, require the convergence of efforts from many stakeholders.  Only through joint efforts, will the Filipino vision of a resilient society be realized.

I am proud to say that the World Bank Group, together with other development partners, has been supporting the Philippines in its efforts to increase resiliency to disasters and climate change. Reducing vulnerability, especially of the poor, to global challenges such as climate change is an important priority for the World Bank Group across the world including here in the Philippines.

I’d like to thank the Asian Institute of Management, a member of the Knowledge for Development Community of the World Bank Office in Manila, for co-organizing this event. I hope today’s conference will deepen our discussion and our understanding, strengthen our resolve, and promote greater collaboration toward a more resilient and prosperous Philippines.

Once again, thank you very much.