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As a country highly vulnerable to climate change, the Philippines’ participation in the global climate change discussions at the 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is seen as crucial to the country’s climate resilience agenda.

“Climate change is a global problem that affects all nations,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, noting that the COP28 is the biggest platform for the international community where all stakeholders will have all-hands-on-deck to address climate change and help mitigate its impact, adding that, “Our continued engagement in the UN and other related international missions allows us to stand with other nations to build consensus and galvanize concrete and inclusive action against this threat.” 

The Philippine delegation to the 13-day COP28 event includes negotiators in seven workstreams, and other delegates from national government agencies, local government, non-government and people’s organizations and the business sector. Aside from mandatory meetings, and negotiations for country commitments to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avert climate change impacts, discussions and other bilateral meetings will be held during the conference, which takes place in Expo City, Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023.

The Head of the Philippine Delegation, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, emphasized that the Philippines will take on a whole-of-government approach in addressing climate change. Aside from the DENR and the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Department of Finance, Department of Energy, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Migrant Workers, Department of Agriculture, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Commission on Women and National Youth Commission are also part of the Philippine delegation. She added that significant participation by members of the Philippine delegation in these discussions is critical as the outcomes from COP28 will directly impact the climate mitigation and adaptation programs being implemented in the Philippines, which is among nations most affected by the impacts of climate change.

Secretary Loyzaga is the official representative of President Marcos as Chairperson-designate in the CCC—the government’s sole policy-making body on matters pertaining to climate change. Created under Republic Act 9729, the CCC is headed by the President as its Chairperson. 

“Climate finance is a huge theme in COP 28,” Secretary Loyzaga said. “We are working in seven major negotiating work streams: loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation, the global stocktake, the just transition, especially of our labor towards a renewable energy future, but also specifically our concerns about reskilling and upskilling our workforce. And finally, mitigation and Article 6 (of the Paris Agreement), for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and avoidance.”

COP28’s critical importance to the country becomes more evident as the first-ever “Global Stocktake,” which is undertaken every five years, is set to conclude during the conference. This assesses how far the world has come in tackling climate change and discusses how policymakers and stakeholders can strengthen their climate policies and commitments towards accelerated actions to meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Among the priorities of COP28 is the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund for countries greatly impacted by climate change. In the Philippine context, the said funding is translated as financing for social development and resilient infrastructure.

“The Loss and Damage Fund is extremely important because there are climate-related adverse impacts that are beyond our ability to finance,” said Loyzaga, citing that sea level rise and the massive destruction brought about by super typhoons that hit the country from Yolanda (Haiyan) to Odette (Rai) have crossed multiple regions “so the cost of really trying to recoup and recover from this is way beyond what we are able to afford as a country.” 

The DENR chief added that the Loss and Damage Fund is meant to cover all the financing needed that cannot be addressed by adaptation finance, regular climate finance, or mitigation finance. Developed countries and other sources such as private sources therefore will be called upon to contribute to its operationalization in a timely and locally-driven manner.

Loyzaga added the Philippines is at the point where it will need to do a thorough review of the country’s commitment to a 75% GHG emissions reduction. This represents the country’s ambition for GHG mitigation for the sectors of agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and energy for the period 2020-2030.

“I think it is extremely important for us to be heard by other countries because what we're trying to do is really approach our climate resilience by twinning adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction. And that will involve the social, economic, environmental, and scientific efforts of our whole government,” she added. 

The Paris Agreement calls for keeping global warming in check by limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C, and the reduction of GHG emissions by 45% by 2030, to reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means bringing down global GHG emissions to almost zero, while the residual or remaining GHG emission is captured or absorbed by, for example, the forests which sequester carbon dioxide, a major GHG.

“Our participation in COP28 seeks to amplify calls for developed nations to fulfill their commitments to developing countries in the areas of climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building.  Moreover, our exposure internationally will open opportunities for access to financial and technical support that we need as a country vulnerable to climate change.” 

In recognition of the country’s work on oceans and biodiversity, Loyzaga has been invited to speak at a number of side events. These include panel discussions on oceans and climate, minerals and climate, nature-based solutions, and innovative financing that needs to go into the work related to loss and damage and adaptation. The Philippines’ efforts on green shipping and supporting the reskilling and upskilling of seafarers and workers in the energy sector in relation to the transition to renewable energy has also been recognized.

Centered around the three major themes, Low Carbon Economic Development, Building Resilient Communities, and Protecting Biodiversity, Loyzaga added that the Philippine delegation will push for transformative climate governance, ramped-up efforts to decarbonize the global economy and implementation of nature-based solutions consistent with the country’s priority agenda. 

The Marcos administration has committed to reduce the Philippines' GHG emissions, aligning with global commitments under the Paris Agreement. 

COP28 is part of the broader 2023 UN Climate Change Conferences—the world’s highest decision-making body on climate issues. The annual conference gathers world leaders, top-level government officials, technical experts and other stakeholders to discuss and negotiate specific action plans to mitigate climate change risks, reduce GHG emissions and address global warming.

Aside from participating in the main meetings, selected national government agencies, development partners, private sector and civil society will be hosting over 30 panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities at the country’s pavilion as part of the conference’s Side Events.  Themed “Together Today for Tomorrow,” these events are designed to connect and unite a diverse range of stakeholders focused on climate solutions, such as in data governance, nature, land use and oceans, disaster resilience, energy transition, transforming food systems, and climate financing.

November ushers in the celebration of the National Environmental Awareness Month by virtue of R.A. No. 9512 or the “Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008”. It aims to highlight the Philippines’ rich biodiversity, inculcate the appreciation and consciousness of nature to the youth, as well as tackle environmental issues that Filipinos continue to grapple with at present like pollution, degradation of resources, and climate change.

In line with this, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), a line agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region VI, will be spearheading an activity to drumbeat the celebration. 

Student-Leaders from different higher learning institutions in the region are expected to attend this year’s Youth Climate Congress on November 17, 2023. The event is also organized in celebration of the Climate Change Consciousness Week and Clean Air Month. It will endeavor to strengthen awareness about climate change, empower the youth to become advocates for action and sustainability, provide support for youth eco groups, and equip participants with effective communication skills using social media.

“It is best that we involve the youth in matters relating to protection and conservation of the environment. We innovate ways and means to help them understand and embrace their role. We can only promote sustainable development if we all work together,” said Atty. Ramar Niel Pascua, EMB 6 Regional Director.

Several sessions discussing climate-related topics and corresponding workshops about Communicating Climate Change through Social Media, Climate Change and Agriculture, and Climate Change and Air Pollution will be conducted.

DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran called on all sectors of society to contribute to supporting environmental initiatives saying, “We are all part of this mission to do the right thing for nature. Let us show our gratitude for all its blessings by protecting it.”

As the country continues to battle the ravages of violent storms and increasing droughts due to climate change, as well as the long-lasting effects of pollution and environmental degradation, it is imperative that the next generation will be inspired to lead and help avert disasters through meaningful change in their respective communities.

The celebration also serves as a reminder of our shared responsibility not just to care for what’s present, but to preserve nature’s bounty for the future. Small but sincere efforts can create ripples of progress in the fight for the environment!

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 joined the National Simultaneous Bamboo and Tree Planting Activity, on September 13, 2023, coinciding with the birthday celebration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

A total of 8.925 hectares with a total of five hundred forty-five (545) bamboo culms/seedlings and one thousand eight hundred forty (1,840) seedlings of different tree species were planted by a total of four hundred fifty-one (451) participants coming from the DENR-PENRO/CENRO personnel, other National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, academe, communities, and private groups across the six provinces of the Region namely, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental.

The Provincial ENR Office of Aklan spearheaded the activity together with a total of seventy-five (75) participants planted fifty (50) bamboo seedlings, and two hundred five (205) Mountain Agoho at 1-hectare area located at Brgy. Rivera, Ibajay, Aklan.

In the Antique province, the Community ENR Office (CENRO) Belison with twenty-eight (28) participants planted two hundred (200) Kawayan Tinik seedlings/cuttings at the 1-hectare area of Brgy. Atabay, San Remigio, Antique. While the CENRO Culasi planted five hundred (500) Narra seedlings along the 1-hectare area of Brgy. Magsaysay, Culasi, Antique together with the thirty (30) participants.

 DENR-PENRO Capiz also spearheaded the planting of one hundred (100) Bamboo seedlings, one hundred (100) Acacia seedlings, one hundred (100) Banilad seedlings, and two hundred (200) Mahogany seedlings that were planted by the 137 participants along the 2-hectares area of Catao Dam Watershed Area, Brgy. Sta. Cruz to Brgy. Cudian, Ivisan, Capiz.

 PENRO Guimaras conducted a tree planting activity at 0.125 hectares area located at Brgy. Tanglad, Sibunag, Guimaras where twenty-four (24) participants planted twenty-five (25) bamboo seedlings. They also joined the bamboo and planting activity led by the Marcos Pa Rin (MPR) National Group Organization, a group of supporters of the President, at the 0.5-hectare area of Sitio Tibuason, Brgy. Ayangan, Sibunag, Guimaras with a total of eighty seven (87) participants planted fifteen (15) Kawayan Tinik Bamboo seedlings, eighty (80) Rain tree, eighty (80) Batuan seedlings, and seventy-five (75) Chestnut seedlings.

For the CENRO Guimbal, in the province of Iloilo a total of twenty-five (25) participants planted a total of one hundred (100) Bamboo culms along the 1-hectare area at Brgy. Dagami, Maasin, Iloilo.

The PENRO Negros Occidental together with the twenty-eight (28) participants planted five hundred (500) Indigenous Tree species (Uding, Bitanghol, White Bakan, and Yakal) along the 1.3-hectare area at Spur 21, Brgy. Kumaliskis, Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental. While the CENRO Cadiz with seventeen (17) participants planted fifty-five (55) Giant Bamboo seedlings at the 1-hectare area located at Sitio Hiyang-hiyang, Brgy. Celestino, Villacin, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

The tree planting activity was made to give emphasis to the importance of bamboo and tree species in our daily lives and to support the development of the Green and Blue Economy as President Marcos mentioned.

“This celebration is not just a simple tree or bamboo planting activity, this serves as a reminder for all of us that we are connected to each other. We need bamboo and trees for oxygen and in return we exhale carbon dioxide that they need,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

“Let us all be reminded that it’s the bamboos, the trees, the environment, and the people that we are prioritizing,” he added.

Furthermore, as part of the Philippine Bamboo Month Celebration the PENRO Iloilo together with 140 participants planted 140 Cacao, 10 Kawayan Tinik, 10 Chinese Bamboo, 25 Pine Trees at the 0.5 hectares area of Brgy. Bucari, Leon on September 15, 2023, CENRO Sara with 53 participants, planted 150 Kawayan Tinik at the 1 hectare area at Brgy. San Jose, Lemery, Iloilo on September 18, 2023, and the CENRO Barotac Nuevo with 45 participants planted a total of 100 Bamboo cuttings at the Riverbanks of Janiuay, all in the Province of Iloilo. While, CENRO Kabankalan in the province of Negros Occidental together with 101 participants planted a total of 204 Kawayan Tinik at the 1-hectare of Brgy. Pinggot, Ilog, Negros Occidental on September 18, 2023.

In totality, the DENR 6 together with a total of seven hundred and ninety (790) participants had planted one thousand and nineteen (1,019) bamboo seedlings and two thousand and five (2,005) tree seedlings at the 12.425 hectares area across.

The observance of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on September 16, 2023 has gathered thousands of volunteers to clean up the shorelines in different areas of the country.

With the theme “Clean Seas for Healthy Fisheries” the activity strongly supports the objectives of the United Nations (UN) Ocean Decade Challenge 3 – to “Sustainably Feed the Global Population.” ICC is one of the world’s largest volunteer efforts aimed at raising awareness on the health of our oceans and bodies of water.

In Western Visayas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the conduct of the International Coastal Cleanup from the regional office down to its field offices in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

More than twelve thousand kilograms (12,000) estimated plastic wastes are collected from the six provinces of Western Visayas. The weight of estimated plastic wastes is equivalent to 983 sacks, more or less. Volunteers number to more than three thousand, with 1,379 males and 1,523 females, with few other field offices yet to submit their final count.

This is the first largest ICC event after the pandemic hit countries around the world and one which forced us into keeping our distance from one another. The ICC events of 2020 until 2022 were done on small scale in compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

Volunteers from all sectors of society eagerly lend a hand during the momentous event that brought them together again for one good cause. They grouped themselves and took part in the tedious process of meticulously identifying wastes and filling up the ICC Ocean Trash Data Form, which are submitted to the Ocean Conservancy. In this way, ICC volunteers contribute to the global efforts of combating plastic pollution.

“Our oceans produce fifty percent of the oxygen on this planet and it holds far more diverse natural resources that benefit mankind. From our oceans we harvest fishes that feed us, medicines that heal us and even renewable energy resources that power our homes,” notes DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

“Let each one of us do our part in minimizing, if not eradicating, microplastic pollution in our oceans. We can each start right inside our homes by practicing proper solid waste management. Do the 5 Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle. We do this not just for us but for the sustainable future of the coming generations,” Duran said.

Ages ago until now trash has become a huge problem in our society –and it’s spreading everywhere.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 has lined-up activities this National Clean Up Month, and one of the highlights is the conduct of the annual International Coastal Clean Up (ICC) with a theme: “Clean Seas for Healthy Fisheries” on September 16, 2023, Saturday. The ICC is the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean’s health, and to inform the public about the growing beach pollution. This will be conducted along the coastal areas of Brgy. Sto. Niño Norte to Brgy. Sto. Niño Sur, Arevalo, Iloilo City.

 “Trash, garbage, or litter doesn’t only affect our land surface but also our water, air, and health, and now, as we celebrate the National Clean Up Month this September may we always bear in mind that this trash can be moderated and properly manage if we help in clean-up activities by picking wastes and disposing it properly,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

In year 1993, with the Presidential Proclamation No. 244, declaring the month of September as the National Clean-up Month and the 17th to the 23rd of September as the World Clean and Green Week. To illuminate waste and reduce environmental pollution, volunteers and environmental group advocates across the nation gather to participate in these events/activities by cleaning their own community, school premises, parks, rivers, coastal, and other areas.

Furthermore, this September, the DENR will also be conducting a Handog Titulo Program on Lands Day that will be held this September 29, 2023.

The month of September the Civil Service Commission (CSC) will be celebrating the 123rd Philippine Civil Service Anniversary, with a theme: “Transforming Public Service in the Next Decade: Honing Agile and Future-Ready Servant Heroes.” The DENR 6 fully supports one of the agency’s activities, the Plant-Run on September 17, 2023 (Sunday) at Brgy. Dacutan, Dumangas, Iloilo.

On September 26, 2023, World Environment Health Day Celebration, the Department of Health (DOH) will be conducting Biyaheng Kalusugan on September 25-28, 2023 dedicated to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy environment and its impact on well-being.

Other Environmental events for this month are as follows; International Ozone Day on September 16, and Zero Emissions Day on September 21.