environmental issues

Defenders, communities at heart of 2023’s biggest environmental stories

Laurice Angeles, Iya Gozum

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Defenders, communities at heart of 2023’s biggest environmental stories
The Philippines in 2023 faced several environmental issues, such as mining and reclamation projects, dangers to environmental defenders, and threats to protected areas

MANILA, Philippines – In the last months of 2023, the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP28 in Dubai finalized an agreement calling for a “transition away” from fossil fuels, but Filipino civil society groups were left shortchanged as they were looking forward to a language on complete phaseout. 

As the climate talks concluded, the Philippines secured a seat on the Board of the Loss and Damage Fund in 2024 while seeking to host the fund. But back home, groups question the government’s capacity to take on the responsibility.

In 2023, the country faced several environmental issues, such as mining and reclamation projects, dangers to environmental defenders, and threats to protected areas, including the monthslong oil spill that hit Oriental Mindoro in February. 

As it is, Filipinos are still in the process of recovering from past disasters. In Tacloban, Leyte, 15% of the housing sites for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) are still unfinished, with thousands of units unoccupied 10 years after the disaster. Housing units for landslide victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng also remain unoccupied in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, because they are small and without water and electricity. 

Though hounded by disaster and environmental issues, a glimmer of hope remains in the Philippines as nature conservation efforts still exist and thrive, such as the mangrove forest conservation efforts by a small community in San Enrique, Negros Occidental.

Here are some of the biggest environment stories in the Philippines in 2023.

Mining
Protected areas
Oriental Mindoro oil spill
Energy transition
Reclamation projects
Waste management
Kusiong tragedy
Remembering Yolanda
COP28
Climate change and solutions
Environmental defenders
Nature stories

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.