Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP131017 - Risk Analysis for Ready, Safe, Resilient Communities

Risk Analysis for Ready, Safe, Resilient Communities
Message by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Launch and Handover of Multi-hazard and Risks Maps for Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA)
17 October 2013, 9:00 am
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ortigas Center, Pasig City


 - Undersecretary Eduardo Batac, Department of National Defense
 - Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario, Office of Civil Defense
 - Chairman Francis Tolentino, Metro Manila Development Authority
 - Dr John Schneider, Assistant Director General, Geoscience Australia
 - Ms Amelia Supertran, United Nations Development Programme
 - Commissioner Linda Hornilla, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
 - Dr Flaviana Hilario, PAGASA
 - Dr Renato Solidum, Director PHIVOLCS
 - Mayor Herbert Bautista, President of League of Cities of the Philippines and Mayor of Quezon City
 - Metro Manila mayors present or on route
 - Partners in Government and non-government sectors
 - Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me here today. I am very happy, along with my colleague Layton Pike, Minister Counsellor Development Cooperation and other embassy colleagues, to be a part of the launch and official handover of multi-hazard and risk maps for communities in Metro Manila. This is a timely event for Australia and the Philippines to celebrate together the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Firstly, however, may I take a moment to extend on behalf of the Australian Government and people, our heartfelt sympathies for the loss of lives and destruction caused by this week’s devastating earthquake in Bohol. This unfortunate event, occurring in the same week as the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, is a timely reminder of the importance of disaster preparedness and resilience. It also highlights the importance of having information on hazards and risks and understanding how to use this information.

In a media comment I expressed,
“On behalf of the Australian Government and people, heartfelt sympathies for the loss of lives and destruction resulting from this devastating earthquake.”

I went on to say that,
“The Australian Government is working with our partners, including the Philippine Government, to assess the extent of the damage caused and the needs of local communities.”

Australia stands ready to assist should the assessment result in a request for international assistance. When our friend and neighbour hurts, we hurt.

Australia has always stood by the Philippines in times of need. Most recently we provided Php10 million (A$252,000) in emergency aid for families left homeless by the humanitarian crisis in Basilan and Zamboanga City.

Let me congratulate our partner agencies, the group called Collective Strengthening of Community Awareness on Natural Disasters or CSCAND, which made this day possible:
• the Office of Civil Defence;
• the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB);
• the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA);
• the Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA); and
• the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

Today is a testament to their relentless work, and the value of their partnership with Australian Aid Program and Geoscience Australia.

Australia has been a long-standing partner of the Philippines in enhancing disaster and climate risk management and promoting inclusive growth. We promote aid to advance the common interest of both countries for economic development and poverty reduction.

In 2012, Australia signed a Statement of Commitment from 2012 to 2017 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 arising from a more prosperous, stable and resilient Philippines.

Disasters are barriers to development – they erode progress and push back people into poverty.

That is why our aid program in the Philippines places high priority on reducing risks and enhancing resilience to disasters. Since 2006, Australia has committed almost two billion pesos (AUD48.15 million) to support disaster risk reduction and climate resilience activities in the Philippines.

Australia’s support on Disaster and Climate Risk Management is focused in the urban space where the human and economic costs of disasters are potentially high. Metro Manila is a priority area because of its strategic importance. Any disruption in economic or governance activities in Metro Manila will affect the entire country; thus this geographic focus.

The Philippine Government at both the national and local level has a role to play in implementing effective disaster and climate resilience policies and programs and in securing government assets and investments.

Australia is strongly encouraged by the strategic leadership being demonstrated by national agencies in this field. We are happy to note the planning and governance agencies, including the Metro Manila Development Authority, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and the Climate Change Commission, have been leading the way in incorporating the hazard and risk information into local land use and contingency plans.

We are also encouraged by the leadership of the Government through the Department of the Interior and Local Government in securing the safety and security of informal settlers living in hazard-prone areas in Metro Manila, and in providing them with housing options in safer locations.

Australia is glad to support the Government partners and key civil society organisations in undertaking this strategic and important agenda.

Floods, earthquakes and severe winds due to tropical cyclones are forces of nature – we cannot stop these from happening, but we can act to prevent the deaths, hardship and economic damage these hazards can cause. It starts with being aware of what hazards can affect us, where and how.

Through risk analysis, we generate credible, comprehensive and accurate information about hazards, their potential impacts, and the capacity of communities to cope.

Australia committed to support the Philippines in enhancing its capacities on risk analysis. The past three years, Australia has been delivering on that commitment through the GMMA Risk Analysis and the READY Projects.

• Geoscience Australia experts are working side by side with technical officers of mandated Government agencies (the CSCAND agencies, Department of Public Works and Highways, Laguna Lake Development Authority and Metro Manila Development Authority), and experts from the University of the Philippines on undertaking hazard, vulnerability and risk analysis; and developing exposure database.

• In 2011, we supported the first LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey for Greater Metro Manila Area, which we understand was the first LiDAR survey and dataset generated in the Philippines, and even in Southeast Asia.

• We shared the LiDAR dataset and incremental work on hazard and risk analysis with Government agencies to inform their key programs (the Department of Public Works and Highways to inform their flood control projects, the Department of the Interior and Local Government to inform their program for informal settlers, and the Department of Science and Technology to inform their work in Metro Manila under the NOAH Project).

And today, Australia and the Philippine Government partners further deliver on that commitment to 17 local governments in Metro Manila and seven from the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal by officially handing over 87 maps per local government unit containing:

• Hazard maps showing the area affected and strength of nine hazards (namely: flood, earthquake, severe wind, rain and earthquake-induced landslides, ground rupture, liquefaction, storm surge and tsunami).

• Risk maps showing the likely impacts of flooding, earthquakes, and severe wind in terms of potential damage to buildings, monetary value of those damages, and potential number of people affected.

We also hand over the Exposure Database containing physical information (such as building types and heights, building construction statistics, land use and land cover, administrative boundaries, and land ownership), population and socio-economic characteristics of communities. These are vital information in determining people, assets, and activities that will likely be affected when a hazard event occurs.

An awareness of risks through this information can drive practical action on the ground – through empowering communities, informing policies, and implementing projects that tackle the issue head on.

Now, moving on, the challenge is finding convergence, encouraging local action and investments that will address risks in more concrete terms. Australia will be happy to support further work on this area.

The knowledge that we now have as contained in these data products is an important step towards that goal. Let us use and make this information widely available.

On behalf of the Australian Government, allow me to thank you, our partners, for your collegiality, your support, and your commitment to work together to achieve a safer Philippines that is more resilient to natural disasters and their impacts.

Congratulations to everyone.