Opening address at the Working out of disasters: job-led growth after Bopha (Pablo)

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Working out of disasters: job-led growth after Bopha (Pablo), Makati City, Philippines, 26 September 2014

Statement | Makati City, Philippines | 25 September 2014
  • Undersecretary Lagunzad of DOLE
  • Mr Geoff King of the Australian Embassy
  • Partners from Baganga, Boston and Cateel in Davao Oriental;
  • Partners from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, academe, civil society and our humanitarian and international development partners;
  • Colleagues from the ILO, the UN and the Humanitarian Country Team;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
I would like to welcome you to this forum on “Working out of disasters: job-led growth after Typhoon Bopha”.

I would also like to welcome personally Ambassador Hirubalan of the Singapore Embassy, Mr Corbett, Charge’d’Affaires of the New Zealand Embassy and Mr Bolt, ADB Country Director.

As we all are quite aware, the Philippines, with a population of more than 100 million, is the third most at risk nation in the world to natural disasters, behind only Tonga with an estimated population of 105,000 and Vanuatu with about 257,000.

The ILO, working with our sister agencies in the Humanitarian Country Team are committed to work towards supporting the communities’ desire to be placed on a sustainable path to recovery and development.

The approach that the ILO has refined after more than 95 years in existence, 26 years longer than the UN has been in existence, places livelihood at the forefront of the recovery effort while ensuring decent and productive work. Work that ensures minimum wage rates, social security and health and accident insurance and the rights at work, which are part of human rights.

Over the course of the last three years, the ILO, working alongside our sister agencies, and our partners have responded to disasters from Typhoon Pablo, the conflict in Zamboanga, the earthquake in Bohol and recently Typhoon Haiyan by bringing not only resources but also technical expertise.

In my previous position with the ILO, I worked to support efforts in Banda Aceh, Pakistan, Liberia and Haiti. The ILO realized the need to link relief, recovery and development to ensure sustainability.

These approaches can and have been used and adapted to non-disaster settings, supporting isolated and vulnerable communities, such as those found throughout Mindanao and working to bring about peace and sustainable growth.

Today, our intention is to share experiences and listen to our partners on the ground.

The ILO has also been coordinating with key government partners particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development, who lead of the Livelihood Cluster, and the Department of Labor and Employment to ensure that we support government and ensure labour rights and human rights are met in order to place these communities on a sustainable recovery path.

In areas affected by Typhoon Bopha (known locally as Pablo) the ILO and the Australian government partnered with local communities and government agencies such as: the Department of Labor and Employment, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Agrarian Reform, to help those people living in remote areas.

Many people are still recovering from Typhoon Pablo and trying to work their way out of poverty, when another disaster struck, which caused flash floods and landslides.

The programme helped affected communities to recover from the second disaster more quickly and more effectively than in the past.

When we talk about building back better, the communities were able to come together and reach out to the most vulnerable and provide assistance.

Through decent work and sustainable livelihood programmes, recovery efforts get people back on their feet more effectively, and the communities are again moving forward.

Many of us in this room continue to respond to the damages brought by Typhoon Haiyan and disasters that recently hit the country like the typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions and conflict.

Today’s discussion is an opportunity to see how different approaches and lessons learned can be taken forward into new and continuing work.

We look forward to a robust discussion and exchange of information throughout the morning. To start with, I would like to share this video, highlighting some of the achievements that have been made in Davao Oriental through partnerships that placed decent work and livelihood at the forefront of recovery.

Our special thanks goes to the Australian Government for supporting this work and making it possible.

Again, welcome and thank you for being here with us despite your busy schedules. Mabuhay!