With the aim to contribute to efforts to minimize the effects of climate change, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) urged the consistent implementation of people-centered policies and programs in both the local and national levels to respond to calls for climate action.

Climate action is one of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) presented by the United Nations (UN) to “end all forms of poverty” across all nations and to achieve development that upholds the rights and prioritizes the needs of the people.

The statement was made by DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco in line with this month’s observance of the Earth Day celebration on April 22.

“As the global phenomenon of climate change continues to bring catastrophic events in different parts of our planet, we enjoin all Filipinos from all walks of life to come together and heed the call to address the climate crisis,” he said. “The Philippines is one of the countries that is most affected by climate change.

The effects of climate change manifest not only in the environment’s degradation. Global warming – one of the effects of climate change —  also affects energy, agriculture, health, water, and marine resources. All these aggravate environmental hazards and exacerbate disasters.

“Whether climate-induced or not, disasters worsen the poverty suffered by Filipinos who already live under the poverty line. The harmful effects of climate change and the disasters it induces have very severe repercussions on the most vulnerable and marginalized segments of the country’s population,” he said.

He noted the UN’s findings on the rising level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere and the continuing use of fossil fuel for large-scale industrialization and other human activities and practices as the main contributory factor that destroys the environment and causes climate change.

“We cannot deny that in the pursuit of development, many countries including the Philippines end up damaging our ecological system because of the various human-induced activities. Many of these activities contribute to global warming leading to climate change. Climate change already affects millions of lives by causing extreme weather conditions in different parts of the world. Some examples are the deterioration of land areas  causing the shortage of agricultural production, reduction of biodiversity, and the increasing intensity of natural calamities such as typhoons, drought, flooding, and storm surges,” said OIC Leyco.

Risk Reduction and Resiliency

As the lead disaster response agency, the DSWD acknowledges the need to implement disaster risk reduction, mitigation, and management measures that will help lessen the impacts of the severe weather conditions brought by climate change, especially to the poor and vulnerable sector.

“One of the things that we in government need to consider is to ensure that the people, especially the poorest of the poor, will be able to withstand the effects of climate change. This includes allocating government resources for people-centric disaster mitigation and management measures that will directly benefit the masses, who are the most vulnerable during disaster situations,” OIC Leyco said.

For instance, the OIC explained the need for sustainable activities to capacitate farmers and fisherfolk by providing them with financial and technical assistance such as free irrigation, cash-for-work activities, and skills training to prepare them during drought or storm seasons.

The DSWD also encourages local government units (LGUs) to persuade their constituents to become disaster response volunteers and leaders by regularly participating in evacuation and disaster drills.

OIC Leyco also said that government funding for disaster risk reduction and mitigation projects should also be a government priority and to curb destructive practices that destroy the environment such as open-pit mining and illegal logging.

“Do we want the future of our children destroyed because of poisoned waters and contaminated lands? We need to support genuine and sustainable people-centered, pro-environment policies and programs that uphold people’s rights and give priority to the Filipino people. We must consider the interest and future of the people first as we go about efforts to pursue national progress and development,” he said.

“Protection and conservation of the environment must go beyond government policies. It requires collective action of communities, of nations, of peoples around the world towards building and advancing ecologically sustainable and lasting solutions to climate change,” OIC Leyco ended.