Welcome address by Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the Asia Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment

8 October 2016 — Manila, Philippines

Honourable ministers;
Distinguished representatives;
Colleagues from United Nations agencies;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Welcome to Manila and this forum for health and environment ministers in the Asia Pacific region.

I am delighted to welcome you to the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific and this historic conference hall.

I would like to welcome Senator Risa Hontiveros, Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography, Senate of the Philippines. Thank you for joining us this morning. Your deep interest in health and the environment is greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Health for hosting this forum.

As many in this room may remember, seven years ago, Typhoon Ketsana — known locally as Ondoy — struck the Philippines. The storm caused more than 700 deaths and a billion dollars in damages.

The storm also left four feet of water where you are now seated.

This conference hall was built in 1958 and is considered an architectural treasure. It was designed by one of the leaders of the modernist architecture movement in the Philippines.

We have made every effort to restore this hall to its original glory and beyond. Along the way, we made many technological and structural improvements, including making the building more weatherproof.

Indeed, wherever we are, adaptation and resilience to extreme weather events should now be part of our core business.

When this regional forum was conceived 12 years ago, we did not foresee the high-level interest from so many countries in Asia and the Pacific. I am pleased by the success of the forum, and warmly welcome those who are participating for the first time.

Two WHO regions are represented here today. Later you will hear the opening remarks of Dr Poonam Singh, my counterpart in the South-East Asia Region.

I would also like to acknowledge our partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme. The collaboration has been invaluable in inviting environment ministers and preparing this scientific meeting.

We are also fortunate to have James Chau as moderator of our panel discussions today. Mr Chau is a well-known journalist and a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals. He brings great energy and interest to this discussion.

Now if only the weather cooperates, I am certain you will have an interesting and enjoyable stay in Manila.

Thank you.