By Herminia S. Jacinto
"Buhay, kabuhayan at kinabukasan ng bawat Pilipino ang nakataya sa hamon ng nagbabagong klima."
THE quote is taken from the paper presented by Assistant Secretary Rommel Cuenca of the Climate Change Commission at the 16th Philippine Insurance Summit held last April 26, 2023 at the Dusit Thani Hotel. This summit was hosted by the Insurance Philippines, the Philippine insurance publication, and the Insurance Institute for Asia and the Pacific.
The topic of climate change has become even more relevant and timely after a series of natural catastrophic events which occurred last year. The unusual weather conditions we are experiencing now are just one of the signs that the effect may be more serious than originally thought of. The summit was graced by the presence of our newly appointed Insurance commissioner, Reynaldo Regalado, and deputy commissioner Erickson Balmes. The keynote speaker was the one and only Dean Tony la Viña of the Manila Observatory and a popular TV personality.
Various speakers and presenters both from government and the private sector described the various threats that our people and properties can be exposed to because of the worsening climate changes. Typhoons are super strong, flooding cover wider areas and take a long time to recede destroying plants and vegetation that are the source of income of the greater part of our population. There are many initiatives that have been undertaken by both the government and private sector to provide education and funding to places where these are needed most. My colleague in insurance has written extensively about Arise Philippines, the organization whose mission is aligned with the Sendai Framework Disaster and Risk Reduction. Risk management and disaster resilience in all sectors of society should be promoted in all sectors of society and this can be achieved through dissemination of the information by educational institutions.
The Climate Change Commission, an agency under the Office of the President, is tasked with developing the country's strategies, positions and plans on climate change among relevant stakeholders by establishing and strengthening partnerships with important sectors of society. They are ready to guide the pertinent government agency/agencies and the communities in adopting the sustainable practices needed to mitigate severe climate change conditions. Dr. Renato Solidum, the head of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), correctly said in his presentation that we should be resilient — "reduce various losses before the occurrence of the hazards and insure effective and efficient disaster response, rehabilitation and recovery programs"
The insurance industry has programs and projects which provide protection and mitigate the risks even before they happen. Speakers from the global reinsurance players like the Munich Re and Swiss Re as well as the Howden Brokers and Milliman Consultants have designed solutions and products that can ensure protection just in case these events happen. Solutions like parametric insurance are now being introduced in the global market. The local insurance industry can do an intensive study on how this product can be an alternative to the traditional insurance solutions.
A very interesting part of the Insurance Summit was the panel discussion on the role of each stakeholder in countering the effects of climate change in which various speakers/presenters participated, including veteran media practitioner Ted Torres and a representative from the agricultural sector, Mr. Michael Caballes of the Bukid Amara. We wish we had the whole afternoon to discuss the various issues and solutions presented by the participants.
Listening to all the discussions during the summit clearly gave me the impression that we know what to do and how to do them with regard to the impact of climate change in our country. But the question begging to be asked is how do we put together these ideas. Who will cascade them to the communities, to the people who are the most affected by these harsh conditions? The Climate Change Commission? The DENR? The DILG?