Dr. Jerry Velasquez, my classmate at Nagoya University (Japan) in the Master's and Doctoral programs is now the senior regional coordinator of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), based in Bangkok, Thailand. One of his mission is to promote Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Philippines and other developing countries to address the threats to life and property by climate change and natural disasters.
Here are quotes from his interview which appeared in the article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (28 Oct 2009) entitled: "UN on RP Disasters: Worst Yet to Come."
- The Philippines was even worse than military-ruled Burma (Myanmar) in coping with natural calamities
- Studies projected a massive destruction of Philippine rice crops in a little over a decade owing to climate change, and severe flooding in Metro Manila affecting 2.5 million people by the year 2080.
- The Philippines ranked 12th among 200 countries at risk from tropical, cyclones, floods, earthquakes and landslides.
- In coping capacity to disasters, the Philippines ranks seventh among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), just behind Laos, Malaysia and Burma.
- The coping capacity refers to a country’s capacity for hazard evaluation, structural defenses, early warning, emergency response, insurance and disaster funds, and reconstruction and rehabilitation planning.
- The “deadly trio” that worsen natural disasters were “poor urban government, unstable rural livelihood, and ecosystem decline.” So it’s not God who is doing it. It’s man who is at fault.
- A single event cannot be attributed to climate change because the climate system is in constant state of flux and has always exhibited natural fluctuations and extreme conditions.
- With the signing into law of the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009, hopes are high that the new law’s focus on strong government-wide coordination, high-level leadership, links to science, and local level action, will be necessary ingredients to ensure immediate, comprehensive and sustained action by the Philippines in the face of this climate crisis. It is one of the most comprehensive and the most integrated legislation so far in the region. We now wait with breathless anticipation.