Globalization not way to address climate vulnerability, gov’t told

The very manifestations of the country’s disaster vulnerability worsened under globalization

At the onset of the Paris climate negotiations, research group IBON urged government to discard globalization as its framework for economic policies that have spawned growing inequality and aggravated the Philippines’ disaster vulnerability.

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change themed on stepping-up efforts to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions especially by most developed countries. In his COP21 speech, President Aquino shared with world leaders his administration’s ‘vital reforms to address climate change’ such as a massive greening program and anti-illegal logging campaign. He expressed the country’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030 — but with the condition that other nations should “demonstrate support in terms of finance, technology development, and capacity building”.

IBON described as rhetorical the Aquino administration’s stance in addressing climate change. The group reminded that while support for climate adaptation and mitigation from developed nations is imperative, the administration’s continued implementation of globalization policies will continue to worsen the country’s vulnerable state.

Poverty, joblessness and poor quality work, the lack of public utilities, services and resources in the Philippines — the very manifestations of vulnerability — worsened under globalization, the group said. For instance, the 66 million poor Filipinos struggling to survive on just Php125 or less per day is the most number of poor Filipinos in the country’s history. The number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos has grown to 12.2 million under almost two decades of globalization policies.

Their growing profits show that big companies and wealthy individuals have also benefited from government’s liberalization of agriculture and the mining industry, continued approval of coal energy projects, and the commercialization of marine and coastal resources. But these have been depriving Filipinos of food security, livelihood and development. Globalization has destroyed the economy’s capacity to withstand extreme weather hazards by keeping it undeveloped and bereft of sufficient infrastructure for times of calamity such as irrigation, energy and manufacturing.

In the case of Yolanda-hit region Eastern Visayas, more than 130,000 families remain in temporary settlements and so much remains to be reconstructed in terms of agriculture, social services and infrastructure two years after the super-typhoon. Yet the ‘build back better’ approach has only allowed corporations to seek profitable ventures within the rehabilitation program. To begin with, majority of the region’s population live on insufficient income, are tied to backward agriculture and a non-distributive and oppressive land reform program.

The only way to fundamentally forge resilience is through utilizing the country’s natural resources to build local industries, in the process creating decent job opportunities and economically empowering Filipino farmers and workers. But the growing number of poor, unemployed and underemployed Filipinos under the current setup shows that it is not within the mechanics of globalization to facilitate this kind of development, stressed IBON.

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