A ranking United Nations (UN) official commended President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for his strong leadership in climate action through strengthened policies and programs.
Mami Mizutori, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, met with President Marcos in Malacañang on Friday and expressed UN’s readiness to assist the Philippines in climate financing, noting the efforts of the President to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country.
Mizutori said that the UN office praised President Marcos’ “leadership in combating climate risk and all other disaster risks posing (the) country.”
“I must say that because of your rather challenged situation, there is very strong (need) and under your leadership, (the) policy and structure in your government … by building resilience at the national level but also at the local level down to the barangays and the communities,” Mizutori said.
“(A)nd globally as well because as you already mentioned, currently the climate emergency is really affecting all countries but the Philippines is one of the countries that is most prone to disasters and other climate-related risks,” she added.
Mizutori praised President Marcos for accepting the invitation to host the Asia-Pacific ministerial conference for disaster risk reduction in October next year, which she described as a “very important conference.”
“And I think the Philippines can share so much of the best practices that have come up from the challenges and so we are here to accompany your Excellency and the government in the journey for resilience. We believe, I truly believe, the Philippines is a great example,” she said.
During the meeting, President Marcos hailed the offer of Mizutori and the UN office but he raised the difficulty of developing countries in accessing the financing for climate change.
“We are already in the middle of the effects of climate change. It’s time to get it done. But I’m glad that you’re here. As you can see immediately that this is very high on our priority,” President Marcos told Mizutoru.
“It is something that we really have to come to grips with. And I know that the UN certainly is providing some financing in terms of green and blue bonds,” the President said, adding the EU and the United States also have such scheme.
“So, and then there are many, many other requirements that we have to fulfill. And sometimes it seems that it is very difficult to actually qualify for some of these,” Marcos said.
According to Mizutori, the UN Secretary General wants a reform in the international financial institutes and system, noting the situation of middle income countries like the Philippines which are constantly affected by climate related disasters.
“This is an area where the United Nation system is working with governments like France, governments like Barbados,” the UN official said, saying that if there are no concessional loans for these aspects, “the debts will become a big issue.”
“So, we will work as a United Nations system on how better to access climate financing,” said Mizutori, also the special representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The President said these are all the issues that all vulnerable countries, like the Philippines, have to wrestle with right now with the wide ranging effects of changing climate.
For example, the country has just gone through a difficult time with a very rapid increase of the price of rice because all Asian countries are anticipating El Niño in the first quarter of next year.
“So, everybody is buying that to build up their reserves, which drives the price up,” the President told the UN official.
Regions that were not experiencing typhoons and other calamities are now prone to flooding and other climate-related disruptions and changes, he said.
“We are always expected to be one of the most vulnerable when it comes to the effects of climate change and we certainly are very concerned. As I’ve said, right now, we are already feeling it because of the frequency and the intensity of these disasters that fall into the country,” the President said. | PND