The Philippines: Prospects in pursuing climate justice, eradicating poverty and inequality
The climate crisis has drastically increased the occurrence of weather-related disasters, affecting millions of families especially those in the global South and causing billions in losses and damages annually. Institutions and actors are forced to reevaluate accustomed frameworks of development, and incorporate sustainability and environmental policies. However, civil society organizations (CSOs) are concerned that economic and political policies remain incoherent with the climate agenda.
The Council on People’s Governance and Development (CPDG) hosted Addressing Poverty and Inequality Towards Agenda 2030: A Policy Forum last August 23, 2019 at the International Center for Public Administration, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
Agenda 2030 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 in line with its principles of sustainable development and involving 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Various people’s organizations, civil society organizations, and government actors attended the forum to lay their stakes and vision towards sustainable development.
Among the CSOs that participated were Climate Change Network for Community-Based Initiatives (CCNCI) and the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) who talked about climate justice in the Philippine context and in relation to people’s right to development. In their statement, CCNCI and CEC showed how environmental policies and programs are frustrated and undermined by the country’s supposed development framework, with political and economic policies that endorse the exploitation of natural resources and, in turn, heighten the vulnerability of affected communities.
Limits of current climate change policy in the Philippines
To supposedly corroborate its commitment to the SDGs and to reduce greenhouse gas emissionsby 2030 under the Paris Agreement, the Philippines enacted the Climate Change Act (Republic Act 9729) which established the Climate Change Commission (CCC). RA 9729 was amended as RA No. 10174 in 2011 to create the People Survival Fund (PSF) which will finance climate change programs and projects based on the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) 2010-2022 drafted by CCC.
The NFSCC is the basis for the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028, with the latterhaving identified seven priorities to attain climate resilience: food security, water sufficiency, ecological and environmental sustainability, human security, climate-friendly industries and services, sustainable energy, and knowledge and capacity development.
The “ambitious mandate” of the CCC is limited in scope. CCC coordinates, evaluates, and monitors its own policies and programs, but policies and programs of other agencies that negatively impact the environment and heighten people’s vulnerabilitiesare outside its mandate. Such policies and programs include theMining Act of 1995, ongoing Manila Bay reclamation, the Build BuildBuild infrastructure program, continuing land and water use conversions, expansion of mono-crop plantations, among others. While the PSF, which is supposed to support community-based climate change adaptation strategies, is hampered by its highly technical requirements that impedes its use by local government units and people’s organizations.
CCC’s priorities for climate resilience involve issues and concerns that are not covered by its scope. For instance, food security cannot be achieved without genuine agrarian reform and fisheries and aquatic reform. Until now, national agriculture and fisheries and aquaculture are disposed to development aggression, and