Loren: Implement Climate Change Act nationwide, now!

PNS — ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat (Nov. 11) –Senator Loren Legarda today urged the immediate implementation nationwide of the 2009 Climate Change Act, including IN THOSE areas in Mindanao threatened by natural disasters.

The chair of the Senate Climate Change Oversight Committee, Loren issued the statement in keynoting the National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Watershed Context organized by the Philippine Watershed Management Coalition.

The senator stressed that the conference’s theme highlights the multifarious environmental challenges the country is facing because of climate change.

“One such challenge is on our watersheds. With climate change, exacerbated poverty, weak policies, deforestation, urbanization and industrialization, extreme whether events, temperature rise and excessive rainfall are expected to happen,” said Loren.

“Monsoon rains alone account for more than 60 percent of the total rainfall in the country and is associated with high intensity rains which are responsible for most of the soil erosion and sedimentation problems in the watershed. These cause changes in our land cover and water quantity, quality and demand.”

While typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi had raised calls for the immediate implementation of the recently enacted Climate Change Act in Luzon, Loren said that the law must also be IMPLEMENTED immediately in many areas of the country, including Sultan Kudarat, where poverty had been aggravated by the flash floods and massive soil erosion along the riverbanks in 2008.

She said that torrential rains easily caused the thinning of the tree cover in the mountainous areas of the Allah Valley and the subsequent overflow of the Allah River, a disaster that flooded farmlands and affected the livelihoods.

“I think the lack of a comprehensive national attention and action on that disaster is one of the reasons this conference is so important. Our experts and local government leaders are on the front lines in our efforts to safeguard our country’s watersheds. With you, we can give people who are suffering the impact of climate change but have largely been unnoticed the chance to make their voices heard all the way to the national government and to various international fora.”

Principally authored by Loren, the Climate Change Act incorporates climate change concerns, measures and actions, as well as disaster-risk reduction programs into government policies, programs and budgeting.

It creates a Climate Change Commission which will oversee all climate change related measures undertaken in the country, while seeking to empower local government units (LGUs) on climate change initiatives and disaster-risk reduction, LGUs being the first responders to disasters like those resulting from strong typhoons, floods, landslides and earthquakes.

“A basic premise of this legislation is that locally-designed initiatives can provide an effective way to achieve local, national and global sustainability objectives. It is my objective to put all local governments on top of the global climate agenda and send a message to our national leaders that climate change compels no less than a nationally coordinated action,” Loren said.

“With the Climate Change Act, we have moved to adaptation plans. The theme of this conference is appropriate because it emphasizes and recognizes that a key solution to the problems being spawned by climate change is adaptation. And in the watershed context as well as in other areas necessitating climate change action, adaptation requires putting all communities at the heart of the relevant programs and policies and gathering collective action that is rooted in a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility.”