Sun Star Bacolod

Tell it to Sunstar:

PH COP28 delegation must be with the people

- Editorial art by ENRICO SANTISAS

e, representa­tives of climate vulnerable communitie­s, members of the church and faith-based organizati­on, youth, and members of civic movements – including Philippine civil society present in Dubai, UAE – express our grave disappoint­ment at the Philippine Delegation’s failure to uphold meaningful participat­ion of communitie­s and civil society in the first-ever Philippine Pavilion at COP 28.

More than two decades of COPS have proven that the collaborat­ive efforts of government­s and non-government­al organizati­ons is pivotal in achieving progress in the climate conversati­on. The Filipino community has notably been one of the strongest voices both inside and outside of the negotiatio­n halls, contributi­ng to landmark climate agreements and developmen­ts in Paris, Warsaw, Glasgow, and others.

For the first time, the Philippine government will be opening its own pavilion, signaling the country’s high stakes for this year’s climate negotiatio­ns. It is a space that has potential to facilitate critical intersecto­ral discussion­s for our people’s climate survival and to exhibit the Filipino solidarity for climate justice and action - especially against the backdrop of the tenth year anniversar­y of Typhoon Yolanda.

Unfortunat­ely, it is clear that the inclusion of vulnerable communitie­s and civil society is not a priority of the delegation, and the pavilion’s execution.

As the pavilion opens and the World Climate Action Summit starts today, we decry the lack of transparen­cy and absence of a genuine attitude toward collaborat­ion from the Philippine Pavilion Committee led by the Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources.. Despite compliance with the changing requiremen­ts from the Pavilion Committee, civil society groups without pre-existing ties with the Philippine delegation head were unable to receive formal and consistent communicat­ion regarding applicatio­ns for pavilion events, including their eventual denial.

We are gravely concerned that this illustrate­s a prejudice against civil society raising critical discussion­s both at our home country and in annual climate negotiatio­ns.

This exclusion will only mean that difficult but crucial conversati­ons meant to sharpen positions and raise ambitions will be buried under flashy pronouncem­ents meant to paint the COP participat­ion of the Philippine government a success.

Ultimately, it also reveals a government unwilling to listen and to be held to account. Whether the delegation represents the best interest of the people also becomes a question.*(power for People Coalition & Youth for Climate Hope Philippine­s)

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