The Philippines, which serves as host to the 2015 year-round meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), is pushing to build regional structures making member-economies more resilient to natural disasters.
With the Philippines and other APEC members prone to the adverse effects of climate change, measures to improve resiliency are vital in ensuring sustainability of the region’s economic gains.
Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima emphasized the importance of this segment of the APEC agenda saying, “Our focus on disaster risk finance springs deep from our personal experience. We want the region to have solid financial structures to buttress against disasters. Growth is only meaningful for our people if it remains robust after each shock.”
“It is true that environmental issues are in fact, issues of social justice. The region protects its most vulnerable citizens best if we give them the means to stand right back up in the wake of devastation. Disaster’s shadow must never loom large over our economies again,” Purisima also said at the sidelines of preparations by the Department of Finance for an APEC meeting in Bacolod City titled “Disaster Risk Finance – APEC Roadmap for Resilient Economies.”
In the meeting, which runs from 29–30 April 2015, delegates from the APEC member-economies as well as experts in the fields of insurance, credit and finance, and disaster risk mitigation will discuss potential financing initiatives on a regional scale to address disaster risk.
“Natural disasters are capable of easily wiping out gains from poverty-reduction and development efforts of any economy. As such, concrete plans to boost resiliency are indispensable,” said Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, who serves as chair of the overall coordinating and planning committee of finance-related meetings of APEC 2015.
Discussions will also touch on strategies to widen the penetration of micro-insurance products, which are seen effective in raising resiliency of low-income households and micro enterprises to natural disasters.
The Philippines is expected to share its own experience in promoting microfinance, which has been its bid to prevent natural disasters from dragging households into poverty.
Due to government efforts enabling financial institutions to offer micro insurance products and given programs aimed at raising financial literacy, about 25 million Filipinos—equivalent to about a fourth of the country’s population—are already insured.
Compared with regular insurance products, micro insurance products are much cheaper and are targeted toward the low-income market.
In the Philippines, some micro insurance policies cost less than P100 each and have coverage amount of P5,000 to P20,000.
Some of the measures to be proposed during the meeting may be included in the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), which is a development roadmap for APEC member-economies that is drafted and pushed by the Philippines.
CAP has four pillars, namely: financial integration, fiscal transparency and policy reform, financial resiliency, and infrastructure development & financing.