The Philippines is urging fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member countries to build a region-wide database on disaster risk management, in order to facilitate information-sharing on mitigating the effects of climate change and timely cooperation in the face of calamities.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued this urgent call following a joint meeting with counterparts in Singapore last month, where fellow ASEAN finance ministers and the central bank underscored the importance of strengthening their respective countries’ resilience against natural disasters.
He noted that within “existing capacity constraints,” the Philippines is now spearheading this initiative by sharing information with its private sector to enable better coordination in times of disasters and other emergencies.
“This is a continuing effort…down the road, we are encouraging our partners in the ASEAN to participate in building a region-wide database for disaster risk management and possibly institutional structures that will enable timely cooperation in the face of calamities,” he said.
In their Joint Statement issued after their meeting, the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors had said the resilience of the ASEAN member-states against natural disasters “is important for sustaining growth as well as protecting our people’s well-being”.
“We note the ongoing ASEAN Disaster Financing and Insurance (ADRFI) initiatives to enhance the region’s capacity to adopt and implement ex-ante and ex-post disaster risk management measures. Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are working together to launch the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF) as a disaster risk management solution for the region,” said the clause on disaster resilience in the statement.
Mr Dominguez said the Philippine government is carrying out its disaster risk management measures with a “sense of urgency” to best safeguard the country’s vulnerable communities against climate change.
Aside from setting up a disaster risk management database that also involves digitising government assets and infrastructure, the Philippines is also pushing legislation that will institutionalise disaster risk financing strategies such as reinsurance and government-sponsored risk pools to enable communities to swiftly get back on their feet in the event of calamities.
Pilot studies for a parametric insurance scheme covering the country’s most vulnerable local government units (LGUs) are now being undertaken, said Mr Dominguez.
The Philippines also enacted a law two years ago called the Green Jobs Act which provides government incentives for the creation of “green” or environment-friendly jobs, such as those that help preserve the quality of the environment, decarbonize the economy, protect ecosystems, reduce pollution and restore biodiversity.
Mr Dominguez, who was environment minister during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino, said the incentives being considered to encourage the creation of “green” jobs include tax deductions and the exemption of capital equipment from customs duties.
“Programmes such as this one support the general effort to encourage our enterprises to adopt sustainable business practices,” Dominguez said. “When they comply with benchmarks set for sustainability, businesses qualify for insurable risks. Such incentives will go a long way towards building a more environmentally sensitive national economy.”
ASEAN has already initiated a programme to coordinate the sharing of disaster risk financing, with its first phase completed in June last year. The region wide disaster risk insurance facility, with funding support from the German development institutions GIZ and KfW, is “a pioneering ASEAN project that could be adopted in other parts of the world,” said Mr Dominguez.