MANILA – The Climate Change Commission (CCC) on Tuesday pushed for strengthened policies to address migration in Asian and Gulf nations, which was driven by climate change.
During the dialogue session of the Asia-Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) senior officials, CCC Commissioner Rachel Anne Herrera underscored the need for stronger regional cooperation to find a solution to the pressing threat of climate change and its profound impact on human mobility.
“It’s not just about being forced to evacuate or move during times of calamities and distress; it’s also the element of choice – it’s choosing to evacuate, choosing to move, choosing to relocate, while others choose to stay behind. It’s this element of choice that brings people from danger to safety, from doubts to certainty, from risk to resilience,” Herrera said.
“As climate change impacts continue to significantly drive migration and forced displacements, government policies and programs must be able to respond to the complex issues that surround or arise from these movements – issues, such as loss of livelihoods, armed conflict, gender-based violence, lack of access to appropriate health care services, and so on.”
She said a comprehensive approach is needed to address the challenges faced by displaced individuals, including employment, health care, and security.
Herrera also acknowledged the importance of international support in integrating human mobility into national climate policies and programs.
She likewise emphasized the crucial role of local government units (LGUs) in addressing climate risks and developing local climate change action plans.
Herrera recommended the collaboration on climate risk and loss and damage assessments; enhancement of climate targets and Nationally Determined Contributions; formulation of science-based National Adaptation Plans; and providing support for local governments’ risk-based adaptation interventions.
She made the proposals to strengthen the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration for the Asia-GCC.
“For millions of people exposed to climate hazards now and in the future, I believe it is our obligation, as leaders in our governments and as members of the Asia-GCC, to open real opportunities for them to choose and live a better life,” Herrera said.
Prof. Saleemul Huq OBE, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), backed Herrera’s statement, acknowledging that migration is also a viable adaptation strategy.
“Migration is not just a problem but is actually a solution. We need to think of helping migrants, provide support for those who are forced to leave their homes, and of course, address the underlying causes of climate change,” Huq said.
CCC vice chairperson and executive director Robert Borje said the commission is committed to advancing climate action and collaboration with stakeholders by leveraging expertise and insights on the complex relationship between climate change and migration.
“Addressing issues related to migration and forced displacements directly translates to saving lives, livelihoods, and future of population and communities,” Borje said. “In the long run, this intervention does not only address loss and damage but likewise contribute to the larger scope of climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
Climate hazards drive involuntary global migration and displacement, with weather-related extremes displacing more than 20 million people annually since 2008, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The International Organization for Migration projects that up to 113 million people could internally migrate by 2050 due to water stress, crop failure, sea level rise, and other slow-onset climate impacts.
The dialogue session serves as a platform for labor migration officials from Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates to discuss issues of common interest, which affect labor mobility, including climate change.
The dialogue was hosted by the Department of Migrant Workers of the Philippines, in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and the City of Taguig.
The event has the support of the United Nations Network on Migration, the International Organization for Migration, the International Labor Organization, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Greenhouse gas emissions reduction
Meanwhile, the CCC led a community-level greenhouse gas inventory (GHGI) training in Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, in partnership with First Gen Corp., to support the LGUs’ initiatives toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
LGU representatives from Pantabangan, Ma. Aurora, and Carranglan in Nueva Ecija, and Alfonso Castañeda in Nueva Vizcaya participated in the pre-orientation training, which aimed to equip LGUs with the necessary knowledge and skills for conducting community-level GHGI, the CCC said in a separate statement.
Borje said the initiative is part of the collaborative efforts of the CCC and First Gen under the "Create for the Climate" program to support LGUs in First Gen's host communities in formulating and updating their enhanced Local Climate Change Action Plans (eLCCAP).
The GHGI is one of the modules included in the LCCAP.
“We are providing support for our LGUs to identify and prioritize climate actions that are appropriate and relevant to their respective communities and contribute to the country's overall climate change mitigation efforts,” Borje said.
The LCCAP outlines the LGUs’ vulnerabilities and risks related to climate hazards, along with the corresponding adaptation and mitigation actions to be undertaken.
The CCC and First Gen have expressed their commitment to supporting LGUs in their climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Collaborative initiatives like the GHGI pre-orientation training aim to enhance local capacities and promote sustainable development for a climate-resilient future. (PNA)