UN expert cites PH efforts on climate change, calls for int'l support

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

November 16, 2023, 6:13 pm

MANILA – United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. Ian Fry on Wednesday said the Philippines has “very good” policies and legislation on climate change yet there is more to be done.

In a news release, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that Fry’s 10-day official country visit ended with a meeting with representatives from the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the DFA others.

During the meeting, Fry shared a summary of his preliminary observations as he conducted site visits across the country, including in Manila, Valenzuela City, Leyte and Iloilo City, and discussions with national and local government officials, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

He cited the relevance of the Loss and Damage Fund under the UN Conference of Parties (COP) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the need to make it meaningful and operational.

In line with this, he underscored the critical role of the international community —particularly developed countries— to provide enhanced climate financing and support to the Philippines and other vulnerable countries to effectively combat climate change.

For his part, CCC Vice Chairperson and Executive Director Secretary Robert Borje said international support for loss and damage must be ramped up.

“As details of the loss and damage fund are still being ironed out, Annex 1 Parties as well as carbon majors need to deliver on scaled up means of implementation on climate finance, capacity building and technology development to developing countries as commitments under UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement as survival of developing nations and the fundamental human right to life are impacted by compliance with these treaty obligations and moral imperative,” he said.

He added developing nations which are least responsible for global warming and climate change take on disproportionate burden of the responsibility.

In terms of gender-related issues, Fry highlighted the country’s good practices in terms of action at the local levels and mainstreaming them — being “more progressive than a lot of other countries.”

He said the work of the Commission on Human Rights on the responsibility of large petroleum companies.

Meanwhile, the government urged Fry to have a more comprehensive appreciation of the Philippine context and engage in a genuine dialogue with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict with regard to his marks on political and security matters.

PHRCS Undersecretary Severo Catura conveyed the government’s willingness to further engage Fry to clarify ongoing complex challenges which he may not have fully appreciated during his short visit.

He said this will ensure a broader perspective that will inform an objective, constructive and complete report.

DFA Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa Almojuela said the Philippines’ new Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework with the UN 2024-2028 makes climate action and resilience a joint strategic priority for activities at the national, local, regional and international levels.

She also brought attention to government efforts for skills upgrading and promoting a just transition to a low carbon economy.

Fry expressed sincere gratitude for the “hospitality and openness” of government authorities and stakeholders throughout his visit.

He said the discussions with the officials and other representatives were “frank and constructive.”

His final report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2024. (PNA)