By Yuki Matsuoka
Kobe, 22 December 2011 - UNISDR has organized an exchange visit between the Philippines and Japan, two of the countries worst-affected this year by a series of disasters ranging from a major earthquake which triggered a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown in Japan, and back-to-back typhoons in the case of the Philippines.
An eleven strong Filipino delegation of mayors, local government representatives, members of the National Disaster Reduction and Management Council, Senate and media professionals paid a four day trip to Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, where they met with Japanese counterparts for four days of discussion and field visits.
An opening message from Senator Loren Legarda, UNISDR Disaster Risk Reduction Champion for Asia, stated: “I believe that your discussions are crucial in defining what remains for national and local governments to do in order to deliver to the Filipino people at the soonest possible time the benefits of reducing risks from disasters and climate change.
“If there is one issue that cuts across all development concerns and all sectors, and involves everyone, is disaster risk reduction. It is a fundamental strategy for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”
Disaster management experts from Hyogo Prefecture gave the delegation a tour of facilities such as the Sabo dam which protects people from landslides and debris flow. They also visited the Toga River to learn about the measures in place for early warning and for raising risk awareness among the general public.
The visit also marked the first meeting between two UNISDR Champions of the “Making Cities Resilient” Campaign, Al Arquillano, vice-mayor of San Francisco, Philippines, and Toshizio Ido, the Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, who had a fruitful exchange of experiences.
Governor Ido stressed: “We cannot prevent natural hazards nor disasters fully, but can minimize the impact and damage through a number of counter measures and preparedness actions. We should also prepare for an effective recovery scenario and plan in advance for future disasters which would make a difference to our citizens.”
One outcome of the visit was the official signing of the Kobe Resolution of Local Government Officials on Effective Disaster Risk Governance in the Philippines which resolved to support strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations relevant to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, such as on solid waste management, clean air, rainwater collection, building codes, and land use and zoning.
Other action points in the Kobe Resolution comprise improving multi hazard and climate risk information through updated and reliable damage and loss database, adopting risk financing strategies, putting in place business continuity plans for local governments and having climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction city comprehensive land use plan aligned to national policies.
Also in Hyogo, visiting officials listened to several lectures on disaster risk reduction and management of climate related hazards by the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), International Center for Hazard Risk Management (ICHARM), and International Recovery Platform (IRP).
The Philippines has already completed the geo-hazard mapping of about 1,600 municipalities and enacted two important laws namely the Climate Change Adaptation Act in 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk reduction and Management act in 2010 which clarifies the roles of the national and local government.
The Kobe resolution was signed on November 24 by Mr. Ramon Abulon Ilagan, Mayor of Cainta, Province of Raizal; Ms. Ma. Josefina Belmonte Alimurung, Vice Mayor of Quezon City, Metro Manila; Alfredo Aranas Arquillano Jr., Vice Mayor of San Francisco, Camotes Island, Province of Cebu; Mr. Plaridel Escalona Sanchez VI, former Mayor and Incumbent Board Member of Pandan, Province of Antique; Ms. Corazon Tecscon Jimenez, Undersecretary and General Manager, Metro Manila Development Authority; Mr. Eduardo Garcia Batac, Undersecretary for Civil Veterans and Reserve Affairs, Department of National Defense; Mr. Ronald Ignacio Flores, Director, Office of Civil Defense; Ms. Susan Rachel Galang Jose, Director, Regional Development and Coordination Staff, National Economic and Development Authority; Ms. Maria Cecilia Dayot Panlillo, Director, Philippine Senate; Ms. Maria Editha Regalado, media professional, the Philippine Star, and Ms. Nimfa Rogado Ravelo, media professional, DZBB.