The air is charged with anticipation as the Philippines gears up for the crucial COP28 meeting in Dubai next week.
This year brings a series of groundbreaking milestones marked by the participation of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr in the World Climate Action Summit and the debut of a dedicated Philippine pavilion.
Advocates are calling on Marcos to push for decisive and urgent action, emphasizing the need for holding polluters accountable for their role in the climate crisis.
Marcos has recently urged global leaders to acknowledge ‘historical climate injustice’ and expedite the implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund, which aims to swiftly provide financial aid to nations disproportionately affected by climate change, like the Philippines. This is why the country’s delegation to COP28 is keen on monitoring developments on the long-awaited fund.
The final list of the Philippine delegation has yet to be disclosed to the public but Atty. Angela Ibay, their technical advisor said, they won’t be confined to familiar faces. Instead, it will be a collaboration of agencies addressing pivotal cross-cutting concerns like women, youth, and health.
Atty. Angela Ibay, technical advisor of the COP28 Philippine delegation at the 6th Renewable Congress in Davao City, November 2023.
“There are many new themes that have been included in the thematic program for the COP, because of that the Philippine government has seen it proper to involve many other government agencies,” she explained.
‘Manila Support Hub’
Ibay, however, said that there is no guarantee that all agencies included in the delegation list will be able to make the journey to Dubai.
”The agencies are in the delegation list but the issue of whether or not they will be able to get there is another thing because it also takes money to be able to participate,”
But Ibay noted, those who will stay in the Philippines will still play a crucial role by contributing to the ‘Manila Support Hub’. They will facilitate streamlined research and offer essential background information to the delegation in Dubai, as needed.
Where are the Indigenous Peoples?
Rodne Galicha, National Convenor of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, the country’s largest civil society network for climate action, welcomes the inclusion of cross-cutting sectors in the Philippine delegation. However, he raises a crucial question about representation for Indigenous peoples (IPs).
“[B]asic ‘yung Indigenous Peoples na dapat nandoon din. Hindi ko nakita sa listahan ang NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), that’s an important constituency especially for the Philippines,” said Galicha.
Grace Balawag of Tebtebba speaks at the Asia Pacific Climate Week in Johor Bahru, November 2023.
IP groups, however, are not concerned. Grace Balawag, deputy coordinator of indigenous peoples’ organizations, Tebtebba, shared that the COP28 presidency has been supportive of their cause and has even allocated a pavilion for their events.
“We will be having spaces where we can intervene in some official meetings so we are looking forward to that. We are thankful that the COP28 Presidency is much more open to our more effective participation in the global process,” said Balawag.
The Philippines first-ever Pavilion
A pavilion is a dedicated space for countries and observer organizations, providing room for events, research showcases, and informal discussions with COP attendees.
This year, the Philippines will open its first-ever country Pavilion and the government accepted concept notes for side events. According to Ibay, the final list is still being curated to ensure diverse side events aligned with the themes of COP28.
Rodne Galicha of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas with youth climate activist Marinel Ubaldo during COP26 in Glasgow, November 2021.
Galicha sees this as an opportunity for the government, civil society and the private sectors to converge. He stressed the necessity for a genuine ‘whole-of-society’ approach, not just a ‘whole-of-government’ approach within the pavilion.
“We are hoping there will be more spaces for the civil society in the Philippine pavilion,”
First-ever COP28 Health Day
COP28 will also mark a significant first with a dedicated health day on December 3rd. The day features a ministerial meeting where key sectors, including health, environment, and finance, will strategize a roadmap to tackle the escalating burden of climate change on healthcare systems.
Jit Sohal of Health Care Without Harm speaks at the Asia Pacific Climate Week in Johor Bahru, November 2023.
The Philippine Health Department was invited to participate in the meeting where a pivotal political declaration will be adopted to reflect country priorities.
“We are hoping that stronger commitment both on adaptation and mitigation for the health sector and beyond will be adopted at COP28 but also how we can make sure that health is placed at the center of the climate negotiations,” said Jit Sohal of international group, Health Care Without Harm.
As the Philippines steps onto the global stage at COP28, it unifies under one resolute goal: to be heard. This collective ambition echoes through all sectors, emphasizing the critical goals of finalizing the Loss and Damage Funds, setting ambitious targets in the Global Stocktake, and securing increased climate financing. The nation stands united, unwavering in its call for inclusion and decisive action on dealing with the crisis of our generation: climate change.