At the invitation of French President François Hollande, IUCN’s Director General, Inger Andersen, travelled with a high-level delegation this week to the Philippines to see first-hand the impacts of climate change on the island nation and mobilise support for a global climate deal which is expected to be signed later this year in Paris.
The delegation saw the destruction of typhoon-hit areas, including in Guiuan, Samar, which was one of the hardest hit towns when cyclone Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, struck the country, claiming about 7,000 lives in 2013.
“Seeing first-hand the impacts of the disaster on communities, which are still trying to recover, underscores the need for urgent action to regulate global carbon emissions,” said Ms Andersen.
“Susceptibility to climate change is magnified by ecological damage. Protecting natural habitats, like coral reefs and mangroves which serve as natural barriers for coastal areas, is critical for countries to mitigate damage caused by increased storms and flooding due to climate change. Investing in nature-based solutions and empowering local communities to reduce these risks can deliver multiple societal benefits and help countries recover.”
Ms Andersen announced that through its strategic partnership with the Government of France, IUCN will conduct a study assessing the economic effectiveness of Ecosystem-based Adaptation in the Philippines, to be released at the UN climate conference in December (COP21).
Globally, disasters in the last 10 years have resulted in over 700,000 people losing their lives, over 1.4 million injured, and around 23 million made homeless.
During the trip, Ms Andersen participated in a forum, Towards COP21: Civil Society Mobilized for the Climate, which was opened by President Hollande. Philippines President Benigno Aquino III and his French counterpart released the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change, which urges all stakeholders – states, local governments, businesses, civil society, academia and citizens – to play a role in reducing climate risks and securing a climate agreement.
The high-level delegation travelling with the French President included the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Luarent Fabius, Minister of State for Development and Francophony, Annick Girardin, and Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal, as well as UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres and Director General of WWF International, Marco Lambertini. Several business leaders, university representatives and two French actresses known for supporting climate action, Marion Cotillard and Mélanie Laurent, also joined the trip.
More information on IUCN’s work on climate change
IUCN will participate in the 3rd World Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Japan, 14-18 March, which will discuss and adopt a new Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction, promoting sustainable management and conservation of natural resources as a means to reduce disaster risks. More information about IUCN’s work on Disaster Risk Reduction is available here.
IUCN Netherlands is working with the Ecosystem Alliance in the Philippines to promote and support the implementation of ecosystem-based solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Strengthening the role of local actors is key to achieving this goal. More information is available here.
IUCN also participates in the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, and issued a position statement ahead of last year’s preparatory meeting for Paris, which was held in Lima, Peru. For more information, click here.