From October 21-27, 2018, Devin Stewart and Amanda Ghanooni of Carnegie Council's Asia Dialogues program led a group of ten Pacific Delegates and two Contributors from seven countries and a diverse set of professional backgrounds to Manila, the Philippines, to examine climate change in Philippine politics, society, and related issues.
Over the course of a week, the delegates participated in classroom discussions, expert lectures, cultural activities, community dialogues, and site visits designed by Carnegie Council's Pacific Fellow Francis Tom Temprosa of Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Michigan in cooperation with Ateneo Human Rights Center – Ateneo de Manila University Law School.
The week began with introductions on the law school's history, the participants' backgrounds, and the project's goals with Ateneo Law School Dean Jose Maria Hofileña and faculty member Tom Temprosa. Afterward, the delegation received a briefing on the science and policy issues pertaining to climate change in the Philippines and the world with experts Antonio La Viña and Gemma Teresa Narisma of the Manila Observatory, and then attended a welcome dinner.
On day two, the delegation spent the morning learning about the human and social costs of climate change and disasters, as well as the humanitarian response and strategies for adaptation, with Mark Bidder of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Philippines) and Maria Paz (Ipat) G. Luna of the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources. After lunch at the law school, the delegates discussed the experiences of climate change effects through the lens of journalists and researchers who engage in ethnography and science research with Jee Geronimo of the Rappler news agency and Charlotte Kendra Gotangco of Ateneo's department of environmental science.
On the third day of the activities, the delegation traveled to a village in Malabon, a Philippine city that has been affected by climate-related disasters including flooding, and rising sea levels. There, the delegates spoke with leaders from the Manila Bay Coordinating Office, the city hall, and the village about how the community has dealt with the consequences of extreme weather and the need for resilience. Delegates also learned about the city's mangrove planting program as part of its efforts to prepare for future floods and toured the flood zone along Manila Bay on a garbage-collection boat to observe the mangroves and flood prevention infrastructure, seeing for themselves the effects of rising sea levels. After the group returned to the Ateneo Law School, it received an insider's perspective on disaster risk and response, as well as thoughts on climate change insurance and financing, with Lesley Leanne Cordero of the World Bank and former undersecretary at the Office of the President – Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.
For the fourth day of structured activities, the delegation spent the morning talking about the relationship between politics, climate change, and public education with Francisco Magno of De La Salle University. Assistant Secretary Romell Antonio Cuenca of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines shared insights on government efforts and challenges in addressing climate change. After that, the delegates spoke about the security and law and order implications of climate change and disasters with Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, Jr., of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and later with a superintendent of the Philippine National Police. The day concluded with a panel discussion on a climate justice lawsuit with attorneys Trisha Isabelle Fernandez and Martin Angelo Esguerra of the Commission on Human Rights (Philippines).
On the final day, the delegates spent the morning with Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch discussing the human rights situation of environmental activists, journalists, and other members of civil society in the Philippines as well as the connection between climate change, displacement, the drug war, poverty, and land rights. After exploring the Greenbelt neighborhood of Metro Manila, the delegates concluded the week of activities with a reflection session facilitated by Tom Temprosa and Devin Stewart at the Ateneo Law School. During that session, participants talked about what they learned during the site visit and brainstormed about what they planned to do with those insights. The day concluded with a farewell from Dean Hofileña and an informal gathering at the accommodation of the delegates.
Delegates described the trip as an educational, inspirational, and unforgettable experience and will be producing articles and other resources in the coming weeks based on the insights they accumulated during the dialogues.
Carnegie Council would like to thank the fellows, delegates, contributors, and participants, as well as the Henry Luce Foundation, Ateneo Law School, and the Ateneo Human Rights Center for their support and invaluable advice toward making this successful project possible. The participating delegates included: Ratchada Arpornsilp, Junko Asano, Candace Burnham, Milan Chen, Layla Kilolu, Austin McKinney, Yoko Okura, Jaehyeon Park, Mark Payumo, and Chetan Peddada. Contributing members included Ryan Goehrung of the University of Washington and Miko Liwanag of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines.