In a statement issued by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) in Manila last July 10, world leaders have been urged to integrate climate resilience in decisions at all levels of government, and calling on businesses, organizations, and communities to do the same with particular focus on resilience in infrastructure and financing. The statement, called the “Call to Action for a Climate-Resilient Recovery from CoViD-19”, put a spotlight on the threats arising from the CoViD-19 pandemic in terms of people’s health, well-being, and livelihoods and how these will be multiplied by the worsening impact of the climate crisis with more extreme storms, droughts, heat waves, food crises and diseases.
As one of the Commissioners of the GCA, Philippine Congress’ House Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda has joined the call for governments and businesses to integrate climate resilience into their CoViD-19 recovery packages.
“The pandemic has brought out the sobering reality that the world is not as advanced, prosperous and as resilient as we thought it to be. We have realized that our societies and economic systems are fragile and dependent on the health of our natural environment, and that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable,” said Legarda. “As the GCA has observed, the pandemic has tragically exposed the risks humanity faces and how unprepared we are to respond,” she added.
Legarda said that the Call to Action builds on the Commission’s 2019 flagship report, “Adapt Now”, laying down a triple dividend from embracing climate adaptation “by averting future losses, spurring economic gains through innovation, and delivering social and environmental benefits to everyone, but particularly to those currently affected and most at risk.”
The GCA seeks to raise the profile of adaptation work by bringing together stakeholders and investments along seven Action Tracks: Locally led adaptation, urban resilience, water resources management, social safety nets, food security, nature-based solutions, and disaster prevention. These sectors are considered the most vulnerable to climate impacts or most critical for climate action under international frameworks including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement on climate change, and Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Legarda said that she will work with the Climate Change Commission towards ensuring that the need to strengthen public health standards to fight CoViD-19 is aligned with the goals of a sustainable and resilient pandemic recovery. She recently authored and sponsored House Bill No. 6864 or the “Better Normal for the Workplace, Communities and Public Spaces Act of 2020,” which seeks to establish safety measures and protocols in place in light of the CoViD-19 pandemic, and emphasizes the significance of pursuing sustainable pathways, protection of biodiversity, and the strict implementation of environmental laws.
“I hope that this crisis has taught us well to be more cautious and approach today’s risks with concrete measures that will diminish our present vulnerabilities. As the world responds, it must build back better, towards a recovery that values the complex and interconnected relationships of human health, the economy, the climate, and the environment,” Legarda concluded.
In a series of FAQs prepared by the World Health Organization, the United Nations’ specialized agency responsible for international public health has clarified the link between climate change and global viral outbreaks such as CoViD-19.
It said, that though “there is no evidence of a direct connection between climate change and the emergence or transmission of CoViD-19 disease, climate change may indirectly affect the CoViD-19 response, as it undermines environmental determinants of health, and places additional stress on health systems. More generally, most emerging infectious diseases, and almost all recent pandemics, originate in wildlife, and there is evidence that increasing human pressure on the natural environment may drive disease emergence. Strengthening health systems, improved surveillance of infectious disease in wildlife, livestock and humans, and greater protection of biodiversity and the natural environment, should reduce the risks of future outbreaks of other new diseases.” (https://www.who.int)