Friday, January 17, 2014
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) are organizing a high level forum on strengthening disaster risk insurance in the Philippines as part of an effective strategy to improve the country’s resilience.
“This forum will focus on the need to protect our properties and our economy from the growing strength of natural hazards. While our foremost concern in times of disasters is to secure lives, we cannot overlook the need to protect as well the things that would sustain life such as the sources of livelihood and employment,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change
The high level forum, which will be held on January 21, 2014 at the Senate, will gather experts on disaster risk insurance led by Rowan Douglas of the Willis Group and Ernst Rauch of Munich Re, Philippine government officials led by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, members of the business sector, and other stakeholders to discuss about how the government, private sector, and citizens can work together to build disaster resilience by protecting properties and the economy from disaster risks.
Legarda, who is also UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said that the forum will highlight the need to strengthen disaster risk management, primarily by promoting risk transfer mechanisms like insurance, which is vital for the future resilience of the Philippines.
“While we are grateful to nations that generously donate to us for our post-disaster needs, we cannot always and greatly depend on them; we must instead strengthen our capability to get back on our feet on our own immediately. We cannot always divert development funds to rehabilitation projects because that would cause great setbacks on our national growth; we must instead promote risk insurance and set up guarantee funds that we can tap for post-disaster activities. Moreover, the cost of relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts would be much less if we strengthen our resilience to disasters,” she stressed.
“The Department of Finance is on the right track towards building resilience with its proposal on a guarantee fund for lending institutions and an insurance mechanism for local government units to facilitate speedy recovery and rebuilding of communities and industries affected by disasters,” she added.
The Senator also said that since disasters drive the poor deeper into poverty, the low-income sector must understand the importance of micro-insurance, which caters to their needs such as protection from health and property risks, so that they are aware of their options to ensure their safety and preserve their resources.
She added that social protection schemes, such as crop insurance to ease impact on highly vulnerable groups including farmers and fisherfolk during disasters, must also be promoted.
“This forum will provide us with fresh insights on the importance of affordable and cost-effective disaster risk financing and insurance programs, which are key components of disaster risk management strategies. The best choice we have is to make our nation disaster-resilient to free us from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time nature unleashes its wrath,” Legarda concluded.