Forester Vicente S. Paragas, Executive Director, National Water
Resources Board, Philippines and Chairman of ASEAN Working
Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM)
Workshop on Risks and Impacts from Extreme Events of Floods
in ASEAN Countries
9-10 June 2010, Denpasar, Indonesia
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
• It is an honor and pleasure to welcome you to this Workshop on
Risks and Impacts from Extreme Events of Flood in the ASEAN
Countries. I was appointed as Executive Director of the NWRB,
Philippines almost three months ago and I cannot turn my back
to the challenge to act as chairman of this prestigious working
group on water resources management. As I said this is an honor
• At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers of this very
important event, the Indonesia Ministry of Public Works,
Directorate General of Water Resource, ASEAN- US Technical
Assistance and Training Facility and the ASEAN Secretariat for
making this workshop possible.
• According to International Panel on Climate Change “water
and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on,
and issues for, societies and the environment under climate
change”. The ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on Water
Resources Management stressed that the AMS is faced with
significant challenges and issues in the years ahead. First, the
region’s population is projected to rise to 650 million by 2020,
with more than half living in urban areas. Hence, overall
demand is expected to increase by about one-third over the next
20 years putting undue pressure on our water resources.
• Climate variability like La Niña (associated with heavy rains)
and tropical cyclones have caused massive flooding in major
rivers in Southeast Asia; the events have become more frequent
and have caused extensive loss in livelihoods, human life, and
property. This also resulted in excessive runoff and water flows
to already fragile ecosystems (that is, due to poor land use
planning and unsustainable use) that cause massive flooding,
landslides, severe erosion of river banks, and sedimentation.
• Hydrological change and variability, including floods, droughts
and cyclones, are not new, but most developing countries like
the Philippines are not well equipped to address them. For
floods, for example, lack of early warning and preparedness,
human developments causing reduction in the retention capacity
of natural ecosystems, lack of protective infrastructure (dams,
dikes), lack of enforcement of flood plain zoning, lack of a
functioning disaster risk reduction framework etc. all result in
unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods every year in the
• Drought losses are similarly unnecessarily high due to poor
foresight and management. Any action to deal with the present
variability will help build robustness and resilience to face an
uncertain future. In other words there is no excuse not to start
now by addressing existing problems.
• There are many types of measures to take which at the same
time address existing problems and build resilience for the
future. Flood and drought management is just one example.
Others include better, more robust and less water intensive
agricultural practices ; measures to conserve water and reduce
domestic and industrial water demand through pricing and water
conserving technologies or termed as water
• Basically, this workshop is aimed to assess the existing flood
management in the ASEAN member states, learn how well each
country can cope with the situation, identify critical areas
needed to be addressed and to improve the current flood
management in ASEAN Member States, individually and
• This is also an important opportunity to share country’s
experiences on extreme flood event and flood management
initiatives and to take our partnership forward.
• I would like to note that successful programs require continuous
and sustained improvement including timely monitoring,
validation and appropriate action. As members of the
AWGWRM, we need to put our acts together and accept the
challenge ahead of us. Success stems from the collective effort
of the ASEAN and not from individual initiatives alone.
Members of the AWGWRM have their sharing responsibility to
contend with like water that knows no boundaries.
• And so I invite all of you in the next two days activities and
hope we will be able to achieve the objectives of this workshop
and to identify critical areas of cooperation to protect the most
vulnerable communities from the effects of floods, extreme
weather, droughts and rising sea levels.
• Because, ladies and gentlemen, what happens when there is not
enough water to go around? The global climate has been
changing since time immemorial. In the past, climate change
was due to natural causes. Now, we have witnessed rapid
changes and indications of more changes to come – and that
only a combination of natural and man-induced causes can
explain it. So, while climate change is not new, the present scale
of its worrying dominates the global political discourse.
• The debate has two dimensions: mitigation and adaptation. Like
two noted savants, I would to end by saying: If mitigation is
about energy, adaptation is about water.
Good day to all!