The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed readiness to support the development and execution of programs aimed at enhancing community resilience and preparedness in responding to disasters and other emergencies. DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga emphasized the paramount importance of barangays—the smallest administrative units in the country, in disaster risk reduction and resiliency.

“We hope from the DENR that we can offer support to all our communities and barangays in terms of their evidence-informed programs at the local level. This forum is a manifestation of our commitment to working inclusively in a multistakeholder fashion towards disaster resilience,” said Loyzaga.

Over the past several months, the DENR has been conducting capacity-building and training activities across the country to reaffirm the crucial role of the barangay as the first line of defense against disasters in their communities. The most recent of which is the Barangay Leaders Resilience Forum last October 12 which brought together over 300 barangay leaders from across the country, local chief executives, development organizations from the private sector, civil society, and academic institutions to explore context-specific, innovative, and responsive approaches to risk reduction, risk management, and resilience-building.

Barangay leaders hailing from Limay, Orion, and Mariveles in Bataan; Tanay, Antipolo, San Mateo, Rodriguez, and Baras in Rizal; Del Carmen and Burgos in Surigao del Norte; and Ormoc City in Leyte, reaffirmed their commitment to build knowledge, skills, and capacities to manage and reduce disaster risks and lead resilient communities. Simultaneously, barangay officials from the cities of Pasay, Parañaque, Quezon, and Manila in Metro Manila also expressed similar commitment.

Additionally, the barangay leaders expressed their support for DENR's Project TRANSFORM, or Transdisciplinary Approach for Resilience and Environmental Sustainability through Multistakeholder Engagement. This integrated program aims to combat poverty, enhance community resilience, and foster public-private partnerships by involving all segments of society.

Republic Act 1760, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991, recognizes local government units (LGUs) as the central actors in disaster risk reduction (DRR). Barangays are mandated to establish and operationalize Barangay Risk Reduction Management Committees, develop barangay disaster risk reduction and management plans, and allocate funds and resources for disaster response and recovery.

“The task of building resilience and preserving life is not just the government’s alone. We all have a role to play to ensure the quality of life for generations to come,” said Loyzaga.

The DENR is leading efforts and initiatives in the run-up to the upcoming Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR), where the Philippines will host the event with Secretary Loyzaga and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. serving as Co-Chairs. Set for October 2024, a central focus of the biennial conference will be on Localization and Urban and Rural Resilience.###