The Philippines has been elected as chair of the eighth session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand from July 25 to 27.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Strategic Communications Marilou G. Erni, designated head of the Philippine delegation, was elected by delegates from other member states to chair the committee sessions.

“A riskscape of complex, compound and cascading disasters is emerging. Forecasts are for risks in existing disaster hotspots to intensify and for new disaster hotspots to appear. There is an urgent need to strengthen disaster resilience particularly through enhancing early warning systems, in Asia and the Pacific,” said Erni at the opening session on July 25.

The sessions aimed to promote economic and social development through regional and subregional cooperation and integration by discussing the following agenda: targeting transformative adaptation; building resilience to compounding and cascading risks and highlighting the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030); regional plan of action to achieve early warning for all by 2027 in Asia and the Pacific; and status of regional cooperation efforts.

Erni also served as panelist on the session on transformative adaptation. She delivered the national statement of the Philippines on key emerging outcomes expected from the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR) in 2024, which the Philippines will be hosting in October this year.

“At the APMCDRR in 2024, we will put a spotlight on the private sector, and advocate for their full engagement in disaster risk reduction,” Erni said. “The private sector has shifted to implementing disaster risk reduction with a development framework and whole-of-society approach, and with resilience as a goal.”

She added that the private sector has been working closely with the Philippine government in natural resource management, energy efficiency and transition to renewable energy, support for resilient infrastructure, and access to health services.

Through the DENR’s support, the private sector has also been aligning their respective environment, social and governance (ESG) targets and investments with local priorities and targets on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. They have also begun integrating resilience into ESG investing.

The Philippines, Erni added, is also one with the global community in calling for accelerating actions towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

“We reiterate the call for concrete actions that will address risk with a fundamental shift towards an all-hazards, whole-of-society, anticipatory, integrated approach to climate and disaster risk governance, and transformative adaptation across the Asia Pacific region,” she said.

The Philippine delegation was composed of officials from the DENR, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Thailand. ##