Legarda bats for green COVID-19 recovery plan to promote economy, climate resilience

House Deputy Speaker and Antique lone District Rep. Loren Legarda has batted for a sustainable and resilient pandemic recovery plan that would promote environmental protection and economic resilience.

Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda (Congresswoman Loren Legarda Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

She made a pitch during a recent virtual online forum dubbed “Taking Stock: Why Should We Be Concerned About the Climate and Sea Level Changes?”, which was attended by members of the academe and research institutions, government agencies, private sector, and civil society organizations (CSO).

“With the urgent need to address extreme weather and other climate-related events, adaptation strategies will be very crucial to prepare and build resilience against the impacts that sea level change will bring. But aside from these climate challenges, our country’s resilience is already severely tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our country therefore needs a green COVID-19 recovery plan that can support the resilience of our economy, environment, and climate,” Legarda said.

She said given its geographical location and for having one of the longest coastlines in the world spanning at roughly 36,000 kilometers, the Philippines is considered as “highly vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise.”

Legarda expressed serious concern over satellite observations from 1993 to 2015 showing that the Philippine region experienced a 5 to 7 millimeters/year rise of sea level, which was twice the global average.

Citing the study made by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the seven cities in the country, namely: Manila, Taguig, Caloocan, Davao, Butuan, Malabon, and Iloilo, are among the 25 cities most exposed to a one-meter sea level rise in the Asia and Pacific region, she said.

The former senator said the policy decision makers should also seriously consider the findings of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report.

In its report, the IPCC warned that the "sea level rise will accelerate and will have devastating consequences for the country and will lead to the destruction of livelihood and infrastructure, trigger population displacement, worsen unemployment, and disrupt the delivery of basic goods and services—which will affect about 60 percent of the total population of the Philippines living in coastal cities and municipalities, including Antique,” she noted.

Legarda, a Commissioner of the Global Commission of Adaptation (GCA), renewed the call of the GCA for world and business leaders to integrate climate adaptation and resilience into their economic stimulus and  recovery packages to cushion the impact of COVID-19.

“Investing in climate resilience is better and less costly than waiting until after a disaster strikes,” she said.

“Over the long run, inclusive, sustainable and equitable economies are more robust. With our transition to a “better normal” there is no better time to infuse low-carbon investments to the economy and promote inclusive and sustainable development to ensure that no one gets left behind,” she stressed.

The virtual forum, conducted on August 5, 2020, was organized by the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) and the Oscar M. Lopez (OML) Center to deepen the public understanding of the risk of sea level rise (SLR) in the country, as well as assess its projected impacts on the local communities.