There is something loud in the second Wednesday of October that is needed for the entire world to listen to.
Before we try diving into the sea of disaster risk mitigation, it is centrally a requisite to firstly understand the cyclical interlinkages between disaster risk reduction and environmental management. Given as it is, our heavenly environment brings all likely proteins and nutriments we have to have but contrarily spoils it back upon the time when we least expect it and during the time when preparedness and vigilance are nowhere to be found.
As divulged by Emergency Events Database being maintained by the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, Philippines topped the list of countries that were most frequently hit by natural disasters. Fact. We all were eyewitnesses to that. And we see how relative it was, of how extensive it can become and of how devastating it can get. But blame is to be put on nobody now. The grasslands and even concrete quarters have been mudded by torrent of unfriendly waters. Allow not our skyscrapers, tall as it may be, soon might find no sunlight so as Philippines will be the next Atlantis, the lost empire.
Call this thing a corrosive jewel tunneling deep inside your funny bone forcing you to laugh out loud even when every tissue in your body tells you doing so just isn’ right but this is not impossible. This is never impossible.
“Natural hazards such as floods, droughts, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, and earthquakes have the potential for causing massive harm to vital infrastructure. One of the most serious threats that faces communities and nations directly after disasters is the disruption of access to safe water. This problem is particularly serious for developing countries, due to their higher levels of vulnerability”, said Salvano Briceño, Director of UN International Strategy of Disaster Reduction during the World Water Day celebration.
Environmental management is one important item to be considered in eyeing for implementing an effective disaster risk reduction system. Societies, all-inclusive and globe-reaching, have been facing in rising regularities and assortment of disasters having number of direct and indirect causes as well as effects. One of the prime cause-effect factors that has received considerable interest is the environment. While much attention has been given to the off-putting end products of disastrous happenings on the environment, less attention has been focused on the implication of weak environmental management practices and ecological dreadful conditions, which subsequently fans the flames of that certain disaster. It all starts from it and positively, it is from it that we can also find refuge and inspiration to seek for better ways of mitigating all potential perils it may cause. Let us believe in the “P” word: the Power of Prevention and on the Principle of Precautionary Procedures.
Precautionary principle encompasses aspects counting proportionality of response, safe-guarding of biological ecosystem, endorsing the cause of intrinsic natural rights, preventative anticipation of results, responsibility of care and paying for past ecological debt or the differing side of precautions’ coin.
Counting Proportionality of Response. We must recognize that the margins of errors of the degree we’ve put our efforts on don’t anticipate for greater and any other internal motives and that the level of restraint is not disproportionately costly. Within this principle lies the communal profiling of eco and hazard mapping to locate inventory of environmental assets of an area or community, and the vulnerabilities and risks it faces.
Safeguarding of Ecological Bionetwork. Green space for contrived maneuver as to recognize that boundaries of tolerance should not even be approached, let alone breached. It is when dogs pee on walls with “indi pwede kapangihi diri” sign and boys just can’t hold it a minute more. It is when La Ratatouille was established with rats cooking for men. It is responsibility, nothing less.
Endorsing the Roots of Intrinsic Natural Rights and Duties. The domains of where the legal concept of disaster is being expounded to include the need to allow natural processes to function to support all life on earth. Citizen Disaster Response Center, Philippines has challenged President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to heighten government’s disaster-preparedness and response systems with enthusiasm and focus with the Executive Director Lourdes Louella Escandor saying, “Let’s not wait for the next disaster to hit the Philippines before we reinforce our systems,” during a gathering on Disaster Risk Reduction in Antipolo City, attended by its network partners all over the country.
Paying for Past Ecological Debt or the Differing Side of Precautions’ Coin. Problem here is that we always look forward all the time. We may think of the past but that’s it. We just think of it and treat it as a memory alone. Where precaution is essentially forward looking, we don’t recognize that in the application of care and burden sharing there ought to be a penalty for not being cautious or caring in the past.
There is an apparent need to lift wakefulness and develop strong strategic lines of attack in stressing the positive externalities of good environmental practices for disaster management, and taken as a whole, the cyclical interwoven relations between environments and disasters and the important “P” word in between. But let us not mention those names of super typhoons and recent earthquakes that caused bedlams. It may rather cause us melancholy remembering our brothers’ poor and tragic deaths.
There is indeed something loud in the second Wednesday of October that is needed for the entire world to listen to. It has been designated as the International Day for Disaster Reduction and hopefully, there will be rains of cocoon sleeping bags. For wherever and whenever it will be, it’s a reminder that before, during and after a certain disaster strikes, there are always cocoon sleeping bags we can bring with ease; more conducive compared to floating sofas, water beds and boat houses.
Official Website of the Citizens Disaster Response Center, Philippines.
UN HABITAT, “Preparing an Environmental Profile”. The Sustainable Cities Programme, United Nations Human Settlements Programmes (UN-HABITAT), 1998
UNEP, “Environmental Risk Assessment: A Practitioner’s Guide” United Nations Environment Programme, 2003.