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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Climate justice and human rights

“Millions are affected yet we are not doing enough globally to mitigate the effects”

We will continue with the discussion on the column last week wherein I wrote about Special Rapporteur Ian Fry’s visit to the Philippines to study how climate change impacts our enjoyment of human rights.

Last time, we discussed the violations of human rights against EHRDs fighting for our right to a clean environment. This time, we will be focusing on the impacts of climate change Filipinos experience according to Fry’s statement.

The general situation is we experience extreme weather events.

We are familiar with typhoons, floods, landslides, and droughts which are all worsening each year.

We are also vulnerable to rising sea levels as a country of many islands.

Fry confirms what we already experience; the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts.

He uses the infamous Super Typhoon Yolanda as an example. It was one of the deadliest tropical typhoons; the death toll being at least 6,300.

Fry visited many communities that experience these impacts strongly and he recounted this in his statement too.

First, he spoke of the Bataan Shipping and Engineering Company (BASECO) compound which is in Manila Bay.

They are vulnerable to storm surges and flooding because of high tides and the community is on low-lying land.

Additionally, the dredging in Manila Bay has worsened flooding, fisheries’ production, and the ecosystem in the area.

Meanwhile, during the visit to Tacloban, Fry discovered the community has not fully recovered from Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Ten years have passed and yet some are still living in temporary housing. People here are also experiencing extreme heat which affects their time to tend to their fields or fish.

There is no denying some of the worst climate change impacts are experienced by Filipinos.

In addition to this, we appear to have a hard time adapting to these changes.

This has stolen our citizens’ livelihoods. Some have lost their homes. Many lives have been taken. Even our rich biodiversity is at risk with the changing climate.

Local communities are facing consequences for mistakes they were not even responsible for.

Seeing these consequences in the statement confirm human-induced climate change in itself is a human rights violation.

Millions are affected yet we are not doing enough globally to mitigate the effects.

People continue to be displaced.

Institutions continue to support construction projects that make it worse.

We continue to be violated.

I echo the findings of SR Fry:

“Climate change is negatively impacting human rights in Philippines, including the rights to water and sanitation, food, culture, education, healthy environment, health, work and housing.

“It is very evident that the Government has made efforts to address the impacts of climate change by developing a number of reports and pieces of legislation.

“The clear message I received, however, is that while the Government has produced many policies and laws relating to climate change, there is a distinct lack of implementation on the ground.

“Furthermore there is a development agenda being pursued by the government which contradicts the highly fragile nature of the country.

“Of the local government units I visited, most were trying to implement adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects to protect their communities, although some of these practices, such as forced relocation, are drastic and violate the rights of people to make their own choice about their right to housing. “Nevertheless, some communities appeared to be reasonably happy with their relocation.

“I am deeply troubled by the treatment of environmental human rights defenders, particularly Indigenous Peoples.

“The use of intimidation, harassment, abductions, prosecution, jail sentencing and extra-judicial killings by the military based on trumped up charges against human rights defenders is contrary to many international human rights obligations.

“This year represents the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The Declaration states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

“I strongly encourage the Philippines government take urgent and decisive measures to respect this right.”

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