As a way of engaging with the COP process at the national level, Ecojesuit organized a Philippine conversation on COP28 to listen to the voices in the Philippines who engage with the COP process and understand the story from the Philippines that can be brought to the global dialogue, even if so much depends on the Global North. Ecojesuit Global Coordinator Pedro Walpole SJ shared a global overview and the calls for COP28 and a hope-based advocacy, also hoping that this process can be encouraged in other partners of Ecojesuit in other parts of the world.
Civil society and representatives from the Philippine government’s Climate Change Commission joined COPehan: A Philippine conversation on COP28, an informal gathering that seeks to contribute to strengthening the relationship and engagement between civil society and responsible Philippine government agencies in addressing climate justice concerns. This includes supporting and sharing youth voices and ensuring their participation in climate action. Youth voices are critical in the global discussion, as the youth will develop (and are developing) the political thrust on the climate crisis.
Sharing a global overview
Ecojesuit is a global network for living together as one humanity in harmony with all life, land, seas, and the climate. People engaging with the network are involved in different ways since the Earth Summit in 1992 where, with Misereor, a focus on water and the rights of Indigenous Peoples to participate, was put forward. Increasingly, agroecology through food and water security have emerged as central themes in the UN Food Systems Summit and the UN Biodiversity Conference.
Energy has always been a concern coming from mining and pollution and is very important to the Jesuit network in Latin America, Africa and Madagascar, South Asia, and Asia Pacific. The climate crisis has now become the agenda with the youth from the Caravan in Africa to the Ignatian Solidarity Network in North America. Pope Francis also spoke of COP28 and the call for integrity in Laudate Deum, given the lack of follow through since the Paris Agreement in COP21.
The Amazon Rainforest loses 1.5 million hectares each year (Forest Pulse: The latest on the world’s forests, World Resources Institute, 2022) while the Pacific Islands experience an approximate increase of 4mm of sea level rise annually (State of the Climate in South-West Pacific 2022, World Meteorological Organization, 2022) with stormy seas giving moments of meter-high surges. The Congo Basin has 35% of critical forests in existing or planned oil and gas expansion blocks (Congo in the Crosshairs: New Oil and Gas Expansion Threats to Climate, Forests, and Communities, Rainforest Foundation UK, Earth InSight, 2022) while in Libya, Storm Daniel in September 2023 caused the Derna and Abu Mansur dams to collapse (The Libya floods: a climate and infrastructure catastrophe, ReliefWeb, 2023), leaving over 5,000 dead, and is the deadliest storm globally since Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,000 people in 2013.
The war in Ukraine continues, contributing to the food crisis for others as the Israel-Palestine conflict escalates. Yet the world remains inactive for the 45 non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) in Middle East and North Africa (in Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, and Western Sahara) and the more than 35 NIACs in the rest of Africa (in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan). (Today’s Armed Conflicts, Geneva Academy) The conflict in Africa killed 60,000 people this century, like a seasonal typhoon.
These conflicts across many continents affect people’s daily living and social integrity. The map of conflict overlaps the map of food and water vulnerability as well as the social vulnerabilities as a result of migration, internal displacement, and victimization of women. In the inability to act together, these crises are “denied” with no seeming peaceful resolution soon.
In the ASEAN region, there are many challenges in strengthening new ASEAN relations including China’s new map of the regional seas. There are two NIACs in the Philippines. much ignored, yet prevent farmers from going out to their fields to plant, sustain, and harvest at critical times.
These are the tensions we grapple with when we speak of a shared mission on climate justice, peace, inclusivity, and accompaniment of the most vulnerable. But whether conflict or climate, we must go on with hope and in this ensure that the Philippine Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is the very best for our people and for the world.
Joining the calls in COP28 that uphold human dignity and integrity of creation
Ecojesuit monitors the COP process to deepen awareness on its limitations and emphasize its value as a global body where the Global South can challenge the Global North for its inaction, and also uphold the integrity of UN Secretary-General António Guterres for his endurance in support of the Global South.
Ecojesuit joins the call for COP28 to be a forum that upholds human dignity and integrity of creation with the following:
- Commit to signing the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty and slash emissions through a just fossil fuel phaseout
- Transform financial systems by establishing equitable financial flows of the Loss and Damage fund for climate vulnerable communities
- Implement the Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security (SJWA) that upholds the role of agroecology and culture-based solutions
- Deliver USD 100 billion of climate finance annually in support of the Global South, and bridge gaps to meet the goal of USD 4.3 trillion by 2030, as estimated in the 2022 report Global Landscape of Climate Finance: A Decade of Data 2011-2020, and
- Commit to course-correctingn adaptation and mitigation deficiencies to keep the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement alive.
Deepening a hope-based advocacy
Amid the painful realities in the Philippines, living out a deepened faith is a challenge. Faith brings us into contact with those suffering. Faith asks us to work to resolve the challenges and bring the awareness of suffering to others. To have faith means holding out with hope and acceptance (not denial or inevitability) amid overpowering anxiety and exhaustion (where many of the youth are) in the face of continuing calamities. Our faith enables a sense of vision and hope for a more just world that is greatly needed.
Pope Francis asks us to join in the effort to reconfigure the multilateralism of old with a multilateralism from below, recognizing that “many groups and organizations within civil society help to compensate for the shortcomings of the international community, its lack of coordination in complex situations.” (Laudate Deum 37) This needs representation if democracy is to thrive. This is what we are about today when we ask all to listen and to share together, and see what partnerships are possible.
In this gathering, there is a sharing of our hopes for humanity and laying the paths of hope with the youth. The hope shared is not simply in what is demanded, though there are demands, but one that transcends all our individual hopes. The hope we need calls us beyond all divisions. Hope is in the little things we do that they may bear fruit. Where there is loss and death, there is hope not simply despair, as we need to hope for the new. Hope is that there is meaning in the suffering and confusion.
COPehan: A Philippine conversation on COP28 is organized for Ecojesuit by the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC), a Jesuit research and training organization in the Philippines and one of Ecojesuit’s mission partners in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. COPehan is a word play on COP and coffee. The word “coffee” in Tagalog is kape (pronounced ka’pe) and “kapehan” is a gathering over coffee.
This article is also available in Spanish.