President Aquino III highlighted ‘simple, creative methods of problem solving’ as a key to a resilient recovery post-Haiyan as embodied at this reconstruction site on higher ground outside of Tacloban. (Photo: Kenly Monteagudo)
MANILA, 17 June 2014 –
As Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts continue and the country prepares for a new typhoon season, President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines has stressed the importance of mounting “a focused international effort to address the threats posed by climate change, and to build communities that are resilient in the face of disaster.”
He was speaking earlier this month at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Manila, “Post-Haiyan/Yolanda – A Way Forward,” hosted by the Philippines, co-hosted by the European Union, Japan and Switzerland, and co-sponsored by Belgium, German, Hungary, Indonesia, Spain, Sweden and Viet Nam.
President Aquino described Typhoon Haiyan as unlike anything the country had previously encountered. The most intense storm the country has experienced claimed 6,201 lives with 1,785 people reported missing. Over 16 million people were affected.
“The Philippines sees some 20 storms a year. Not only have they become more powerful, they have also begun shifting tracks, hitting areas that are not normally frequented by typhoons,” he said.
President Aquino highlighted the importance of science in strengthening resilience as he opened the ASEM Conference which produced the Tacloban Declaration and was attended by more than 280 officials and representatives from ASEM Partners, UN , civil society, academia and the private sector.
His emphasis on “available, accessible and affordable” disaster risk information emerged as one of the key themes in the Conference’s closing ‘Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration’.
The government is deploying Doppler radar for better estimates of rainfall with incoming cyclones; early-warning systems in major river basins are being integrated as part of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards project; hundreds of hydro-meteorological gauges are being installed countrywide; and a new website is providing the public with real-time weather information.
“These efforts go hand in hand with training our personnel working with the local communities in the use and maintenance of these new technologies,” President Aquino said.
The Tacloban Declaration affirms the central role of national governments particularly in large scale and mega-disasters while recognizing also the importance of international cooperation.
It calls on national governments to enhance coordination mechanisms and long-term partnerships among public authorities and relevant stakeholders including local governments, NGOs, civil society, academia, education and the private sector “bearing in mind that resilience building starts at the local level. In so doing, the national government could better utilize local knowledge, guarantee ownership, strengthen individual responsibility and reduce reaction time.”
The Declaration goes on to “affirm the important role of the local government as first responders and builders of local resilience.” This translates into tangible actions on the ground including community-based DRR, contingency planning, communications and early warning systems. “Local governments should be empowered with continuous capacity building.”
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, in her conference address praised the “remarkable” recovery since Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) but said the global challenge of disasters remained great.
“There is no time to waste. Because of climate change, disasters are more frequent and more severe. Because of population growth, urbanisation, and environmental degradation when they (disasters) hit more people are affected and there is more damage,” Ms Georgieva said.
Ms Georgieva said the Tacloban Declaration was an important springboard to seize the opportunity presented by next year’s World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.
“Let’s take the 2015 Sendai meeting on the post-Hyogo Framework for Action as a huge chance to set the world on a more sustainable course. I am confident that the ‘Tacloban declaration’ will feed straight into success in Sendai on 11 March next year,” Ms Georgieva said.
The head of UNISDR, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed the Tacloban Declaration. “The Declaration encapsulates much of the learning from one of the worst disasters in recent years and is a worthwhile contribution to the creation of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction. It is based on experience and the realities that face many vulnerable people living in exposed locations like Tacloban.”
The annual gathering of Asia and European leaders, the 10th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Summit, which will take place in Milan, Italy, in October, will consider the Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration as an ASEM contribution to the post-2015 global framework for disaster risk reduction.