Press Release
March 6, 2011

Loren Urges ASEAN Leaders to Prioritize Disaster Risk Reduction
and Climate Change Adaptation

Hanoi, Vietnam -- Senator Loren Legarda, Chairperson of the Philippine Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, called on the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prioritize disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in national development agenda to avert further losses of lives and livelihoods from disasters.

"We cannot content ourselves with merely reacting to disaster events that claim countless of lives, ruin properties, and leave lingering effects on people's livelihoods and the environment. We need to protect our development gains from the regressive impacts of disasters," said Legarda in addressing high-level officials of the Government of Vietnam led by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai at the Second National Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation held today in Hanoi.

"We need to be proactive if we are to win against disaster and climate change," she added.

She noted that the 3rd ASEAN-UN Summit held in Hanoi, Vietnam last October, the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the United Nations Regional Coordinating Mechanism (UN-RCM) agreed to prepare the ASEAN-UN Strategic Plan of Cooperation on Disaster Management for 2011-2015, which shall cover risk and vulnerability assessment, preparedness and early warning, among other disaster risk management activities.

"The rising trend of disaster risk can be stopped if national leaders govern with commitment, responsibility, and accountability to bring about a safer and more resilient society," challenged Legarda.

"Climate change has already made its presence felt in our region. Extreme weather events, stronger typhoons, heavier rains, severe floods, and devastating droughts have become recurring events, a common concern for many countries in Asia," she added.

ASEAN member-states, based on what was agreed upon at the ASEAN Summit, must actively collaborate and pursue efforts to build disaster and climate-resilient communities within the region.

"Disasters can be prevented if national leaders consider risk reduction not as a cost but a wise investment," she explained.

"No conscientious leader would want to see the poor and most vulnerable constantly drawn back by disasters into abject poverty for lack of government action. No responsible politician would want the government to waste millions on public infrastructure that can be instantly destroyed by earthquakes and floods," Legarda added.

Legarda was in Hanoi on the invitation of the Government of Vietnam to share the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, two landmark laws that she authored and sponsored and now considered legislative models by the UNISDR and the Inter-Parliamentary Union for other nations to emulate.

"Asia is the world's most disaster prone region. Peoples in Asia are four times more likely to be affected by disasters caused by natural hazards than those in Africa; and 25 times more likely than those in Europe or North America, based on a recent UN report," revealed Legarda who is also UNISDR champion for Asia and the Pacific.

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