COP28

Philippines gets a seat in inaugural board of loss and damage fund

Iya Gozum

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Philippines gets a seat in inaugural board of loss and damage fund

CLIMATE CHANGE. In this file photo, residents living near the seawall of the Baseco Compound in Tondo, Manila, experience strong winds and waves due to Typhoon Egay.

Rappler

This has been a 'long time coming' after the Philippines spent decades 'at the forefront of the negotiations for the loss and damage fund,' says Philippine Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has secured a seat on the inaugural board of the loss and damage fund, Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga confirmed in a Palace briefing on Thursday, December 14.

The country will represent the Asia-Pacific Group as a full member for 2024 and 2026 and as an alternate member in 2025, sharing the term that year with Pakistan.

“We are very fortunate and we are very lucky through the hard work and the vision of the President, we have garnered a seat on the board of the loss and damage fund,” said Loyzaga.

The environment secretary said that having a seat on the board would give the Philippines an opportunity to influence the decision-making on who gets to have access to the fund – and how fast.

For decades, the Philippines has worked to have the loss and damage fund established. It was only last year when countries adopted the landmark deal on the fund.

“Our history – the Philippines – we had been at the forefront of the negotiations for the loss and damage fund all the way back from the time of the first CCC Commissioner Lucille Sering to Yeb Saño post-Yolanda. This has been a long time coming,” said Loyzaga.

According to Loyzaga, the Philippine delegation has already nominated former finance undersecretary Mark Joven as the country’s representative to the board.

The number of seats is not yet final, but Loyzaga said it may range from 23 to 26 seats, shared by developed and developing countries.

The purpose of the loss and damage fund is to assist developing and vulnerable countries to respond to droughts, floods, and rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change.

Philippines gets a seat in inaugural board of loss and damage fund

It was the talk of the town of the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), especially on how parties would operationalize the said fund. Parties have already made pledges to the fund, amounting so far to $700 million.

In meetings before COP28 started, a special UN committee agreed to recommend that the World Bank serve as secretariat and trustee to the fund.

A country will then host the board of the fund to provide legal personality and capacity. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has already expressed his intention to host the board early on.

“The next step we are hoping to achieve is to host the fund, [the] loss and damage fund, here in the Philippines…because after all, we are very much in the mix when it comes to climate change effects,” Marcos said in a statement on Thursday.

The President said he was “gratified” after hearing the news that the Philippines had clinched the seat on the board.

“So, I think this is a good development, and we’ll keep working to make sure that the Philippines has a very strong voice when it comes to all the issues of climate change, of which we are very severely affected,” he added.

Meanwhile, the early breakthrough of clinching the fund at COP28 was met with reservations from some groups, saying it would divert focus from funds intended to make communities more resilient.

In response, Loyzaga said there are other streams from which countries can get funds, depending on their needs. She cited the Green Climate Fund as an example, which is where state weather bureau PAGASA is getting money to finance its impact-based early warning system. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

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