Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP130724 - Speech at the SM Symposium on Green Retail Agenda

Speech by Ambassador Tweddell
SM Symposium on "Green Retail Agenda"
Promoting Awareness of Metro Manila Communities to Impacts of Natural Disasters and Climate Change
SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia
24 July 2013


Thank you for inviting me today. I am grateful for this opportunity. Australia has been a long standing partner of the Philippines in disaster preparedness, risk reduction and humanitarian response. It is an area where Australia is proud to be making a difference.

Making people aware of the risks and reducing the impact of disasters is an important part of Australia’s national agenda. Thus, Australia is proud to work with the Philippines Government to advance this agenda here.

Australia places a high priority on being a responsive neighbour in times of disaster. We are committed to working with the Philippines to improve disaster preparedness and resilience.

Since 2006, Australia has committed one billion Pesos (AUD25 million) to support disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Philippines. Australia has also provided more than PhP1.50 billion (over AUD35 million) in humanitarian and emergency assistance since 2006.

Most recently Australia contributed 351 million Pesos (AUD7.8 million) in response to Washi, and 443 million pesos (AUD10.55 million) in response to Pablo. Our contribution provided immediate and life-saving help and aided with early recovery. Australia continues to stand at the ready, and has prepositioned 80 million pesos (AUD2 million) worth of food and supplies with our partners for rapid response.


Last year, Australia signed a six-year Statement of Commitment with the Government of the Philippines. Our commitment is to the poor and vulnerable. Our goal is to ensure that they are able to take advantage of the benefits that development has to offer.

An important part of achieving this goal is to build disaster and climate resilient communities.

It makes economic sense to prepare for disasters.

For example, after Ondoy and Pepeng, recovery was estimated to cost 186 billion Pesos (or USD4.42 billion). In comparison, an investment in Manila of around 2.5 billion Pesos in improving flood control measures would substantially reduce the impact of flooding such as was seen with Ondoy.

Our rapidly growing cities are becoming more vulnerable to disasters. This is particularly true in the Philippines. Here, as elsewhere in the world, poorly planned urbanization puts communities at risk.

Australia’s support on disaster risk management is therefore focused in the urban areas.

Metro Manila is a priority. It is a priority because any disruption in economic or governance activities in Metro Manila affects the entire country.

Australia’s package of assistance for Metro Manila includes three major programs.

First, Building the Resilience and Awareness of Communities in Metro Manila (or BRACE) is Australia’s most important disaster risk management program. We are working with Philippines Government technical agencies and Taguig City to implement a 1.2 billion peso (or A$30 million) program for:
• improved understanding of natural disasters
• better informed and prepared communities;
• better informed land use planning and investments; and
• safer communities for the poor and vulnerable.

We are also investing with the Philippines in improved land use and disaster contingency planning.

And finally we are supporting technical and policy oriented work to build the disaster preparedness and resilience of informal settler communities in Metro Manila.

The private sector also has a role to play in public information, community preparedness, and in securing its assets and investments.

Through your strong corporate social responsibility, the private sector can play a role in:

• building the capacity of the business sector and Filipino communities to prepare effectively for and deal with disasters
• strengthening local emergency services and search and rescue teams
• prepositioning food and supplies for emergency response
• supporting research and innovation on disaster preparedness; and
• promoting environmentally sound practices.

Australia is at the forefront of green building and sustainable building practices, using design and planning processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient. The 2000 Sydney Olympics drew world attention to Australian capabilities and expertise in this area. Since then, Australian green building expertise has continued to deliver practical and commercial benefits, both domestically and internationally. Australian expertise in green and sustainable building encompasses a range of industries including: healthcare, education, infrastructure, industrial, public buildings, residential, commercial and sporting facilities. The Australian green building industry is an ideal partner in developing sustainable projects around the world. Two examples in Manila are:

• Arya Residences, in Fort Bonificio - designed by Australian firm, Crone Partners, Arya Residences is the first top-end development in the Philippines built to achieve dual green building certification

• Zuellig Building - First Gold level LEED Core and Shell Pre-certified structure in the Philippines. The general contractor was an Australian company - Leighton Contractors.

We see great value and the potential to make a difference by working in partnership with the government, communities, civil society organisations and the business sector to address the pressing issues on disasters and climate change. We hope you will, too.

Thank you again for this opportunity to share my views with the business community on promoting awareness of Metro Manila communities on natural disasters and climate change. Congratulations to the SM Group for organising this symposium.

I wish you a productive conference. Good morning.