House Deputy Speaker and Antique lone Rep. Loren Legarda has batted for a science-based disaster risk planning to reduce the irreversible impacts of climate change.
She made the call, as she expressed concern over the latest report from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) showing that climate change is largely to blame for a near doubling of disasters caused by natural hazards in the past 20 years.
“Our national and local leaders must implement an effective disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) scheme that requires action on several fronts such as good governance and institution building, social protection and anti-poverty effort, investment on augmented capacity and resilient infrastructure, and sustainable resource management,” Legarda said in a statement.
Citing the UNDRR report entitled “Human Cost of Disasters: An overview of the last 20 years, 2000-2019”, she said there were 7,348 major disaster events that occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people, and costing the global economy some US$2.97 trillion.
The figure exceeds the 4,212 major disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999, she noted, quoting the report.
According to the House leader, the UNDRR report highlighted the need to strengthen disaster risk governance for the entire range of both natural and human-induced hazards, including those related to environmental, technological, and biological hazards and risks.
“In the short-term, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) through the implementation of Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act has succeeded in saving many lives through improved preparedness and the dedication of its staff. But the odds continue to be stacked against them in particular by the business-as-usual case scenarios that are failing miserably on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels commensurate with the desired goal of keeping global warming to 1.5˚C as set out in the Paris Agreement,” Legarda said.
She cited the need to strengthen public awareness and understanding of DRRM and climate change so as not to put those vulnerable sectors into the brink of devastation.
“It really is all about governance if we want to deliver this planet from the scourge of poverty, further loss of species and biodiversity, the explosion of urban risk and the worst consequences of global warming. We must act collectively and educate people,” Legarda said.
She said the local and national leaders should consider adopting numerous proven life-saving measures for storm impacts, such as cyclone shelters, wind-resistant buildings, and preservation of protective ecosystems such as mangrove forests which also serve as carbon sinks, and coral reefs.
Effective deployment of early warning systems supported by increasingly accurate weather forecasts have the potential to protect vulnerable populations worldwide and save thousands of lives, she said.
“Standardized methodologies are needed to collect comprehensive national data on deaths from all-natural hazards; and better data collection would improve appreciation and understanding of disaster impacts and improve analyses,” Legarda said.
She cited the need for more in-depth data, such as disaster damage to buildings, disaggregated demographic and gender data, and impacts on local economies to help decision-makers prioritize and target new measures more effectively.
This underlines the importance of a national disaster loss database which is vital to the development of national and local DRR strategies aligned with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, she said.
“The only way forward is to heed the science and make decisive actions toward staging a recovery that will pave the way for a better normal for the Filipino people.” Legarda stressed.