Philippine Flood Management Knowledge Sharing Forum

Welcome Remarks by ADB Vice-President Stephen P. Groff on 4 December 2012 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Good morning, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Asian Development Bank.

I would especially like to welcome Secretary Rogelio Singson, Department of Public Works and Highways.

Thank you very much for joining us today. ADB is pleased to co-organize the Philippine Flood Management Knowledge Sharing Forum with the Department of Public Works and Highways. This Knowledge Sharing Forum is timely, as flood disasters continue to underscore the need throughout the region to build and maintain resilience to such catastrophes.

Between 2001 and 2005, Asia and the Pacific suffered an estimated $270 billion in water-related hazard damages. This accounted for 85% of the region’s natural disasters, 23% of all deaths in the region caused by natural calamities, and 56% of the economic damage.

The Philippines is especially vulnerable to flood disasters. We still recall the devastation caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009. This year, just four months ago, heavy rains in northern and central Luzon were caused by Typhoon “Gener” (Saola) and the southwestern monsoons, exacerbated by Typhoon Haiku. In Metro Manila, the total rainfall reached just over 1,000 mm, nearly twice the estimated accumulated rainfall for the month of August.

Every flood incident represents a setback to development. Every disaster leaves us more vulnerable and exposed. We need to reduce these setbacks as much as we can, otherwise we are simply spending valuable resources to start over, rather than stride forward.

We need to collectively find ways to reduce risks and mitigate future flooding. Planning for a disaster is one of the best ways to prevent loss of life and livelihood. Urgent actions are therefore needed to reduce flood risks, including measures to manage hazards, exposure and vulnerability. This will require critical decision-making, accompanied by a balance of structural and non-structural solutions to improve flood management across the Philippines.

Events such as this Philippine Flood Knowledge Sharing Forum are an important mechanism to improve knowledge on flood risk management and mitigation, and to share valuable lessons from colleagues from the Philippines and beyond. I note that later today you will be hearing about experiences from Thailand, Australia and the United States.

I am pleased that the program places a strong importance on discussions, which will enable a rich exchange between participants from the government agencies, local government units, civil society organization and development partners. You will touch on a wide range of topics which form important pieces of the complex puzzle of flood management, such as implementation of flood management plans, new innovative technologies for managing flood hazards, non structural measures such as flood forecasting and warning, community based flood risk management, watershed management, policies and plans for flood management and how to best manage the social aspects of flood management in a participatory manner.

I sincerely hope that the presentations and panel discussions of the collective experiences at this Knowledge Sharing Forum will provide the Philippines with valuable insights on flood risk management and mitigation. I wish all of you a successful Forum.

Thank you.