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Final opening remarks indonesia 9_june 2010

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Final opening remarks indonesia 9_june 2010

  1. 1. OPENING REMARKS by Forester Vicente S. Paragas, Executive Director, National Water Resources Board, Philippines and Chairman of ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM) Workshop on Risks and Impacts from Extreme Events of Floods in ASEAN Countries 9-10 June 2010, Denpasar, Indonesia Good morning ladies and gentlemen. • It is an honor and pleasure to welcome you to this Workshop on Risks and Impacts from Extreme Events of Flood in the ASEAN Countries. I was appointed as Executive Director of the NWRB, Philippines almost three months ago and I cannot turn my back to the challenge to act as chairman of this prestigious working group on water resources management. As I said this is an honor and privilege. • At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers of this very important event, the Indonesia Ministry of Public Works, Directorate General of Water Resource, ASEAN- US Technical Assistance and Training Facility and the ASEAN Secretariat for making this workshop possible. • According to International Panel on Climate Change “water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on, and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change”. The ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on Water Resources Management stressed that the AMS is faced with significant challenges and issues in the years ahead. First, the region’s population is projected to rise to 650 million by 2020, with more than half living in urban areas. Hence, overall demand is expected to increase by about one-third over the next 20 years putting undue pressure on our water resources. • Climate variability like La Niña (associated with heavy rains) and tropical cyclones have caused massive flooding in major rivers in Southeast Asia; the events have become more frequent and have caused extensive loss in livelihoods, human life, and property. This also resulted in excessive runoff and water flows to already fragile ecosystems (that is, due to poor land use
  2. 2. planning and unsustainable use) that cause massive flooding, landslides, severe erosion of river banks, and sedimentation. • Hydrological change and variability, including floods, droughts and cyclones, are not new, but most developing countries like the Philippines are not well equipped to address them. For floods, for example, lack of early warning and preparedness, human developments causing reduction in the retention capacity of natural ecosystems, lack of protective infrastructure (dams, dikes), lack of enforcement of flood plain zoning, lack of a functioning disaster risk reduction framework etc. all result in unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods every year in the developing countries. • Drought losses are similarly unnecessarily high due to poor foresight and management. Any action to deal with the present variability will help build robustness and resilience to face an uncertain future. In other words there is no excuse not to start now by addressing existing problems. • There are many types of measures to take which at the same time address existing problems and build resilience for the future. Flood and drought management is just one example. Others include better, more robust and less water intensive agricultural practices ; measures to conserve water and reduce domestic and industrial water demand through pricing and water conserving technologies or termed as water demand management. • Basically, this workshop is aimed to assess the existing flood management in the ASEAN member states, learn how well each country can cope with the situation, identify critical areas needed to be addressed and to improve the current flood management in ASEAN Member States, individually and holistically. • This is also an important opportunity to share country’s experiences on extreme flood event and flood management initiatives and to take our partnership forward. • I would like to note that successful programs require continuous and sustained improvement including timely monitoring, validation and appropriate action. As members of the
  3. 3. AWGWRM, we need to put our acts together and accept the challenge ahead of us. Success stems from the collective effort of the ASEAN and not from individual initiatives alone. Members of the AWGWRM have their sharing responsibility to contend with like water that knows no boundaries. • And so I invite all of you in the next two days activities and hope we will be able to achieve the objectives of this workshop and to identify critical areas of cooperation to protect the most vulnerable communities from the effects of floods, extreme weather, droughts and rising sea levels. • Because, ladies and gentlemen, what happens when there is not enough water to go around? The global climate has been changing since time immemorial. In the past, climate change was due to natural causes. Now, we have witnessed rapid changes and indications of more changes to come – and that only a combination of natural and man-induced causes can explain it. So, while climate change is not new, the present scale of its worrying dominates the global political discourse. • The debate has two dimensions: mitigation and adaptation. Like two noted savants, I would to end by saying: If mitigation is about energy, adaptation is about water. Good day to all!