Thursday, July 8, 2010

Be careful of the carrots that you eat

by Yeb Sano. July 7, 2010

Statement/Closing Remarks on the occasion of the presentation of the Report “Financing Adaptation, Funding Chaos: the State of Climate Finance in the Philippines” organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) and Oxfam.

Mga kaibigan mula sa iba’t-ibang sektor at organisasyon, mga kasama sa iCSC at Oxfam, Mayor Del de Guzman (Marikina), Commissioner Lucille (CCC), Prof. Briones (Social Watch), magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

First, please allow me to thank iCSC and Oxfam for inviting me to address you as we close this round table discussion on the climate finance in the Philippines.

I appreciate the commitment of the iCSC and Oxfam to promoting and fostering critical conversations on climate change financial flows, especially as it relates to climate adaptation and vis-à-vis the country’s policy milieu. Your efforts to make sense of the money pouring in for climate change projects indeed nurture a sincere and sober, if you may, perspective of climate finance as it should be understood.  

I would grab this opportunity to of course congratulate iCSC and Oxfam for this very timely paper. At the onset, I would say that I look forward to following the progress of the discussion that the paper would certainly foster and the eventual impact and implementation of the recommendations.

Policy fora such as this play an important role in encouraging stakeholders, most especially stakeholders who care, to engage in critical conversations, and broaden our perspectives as we tackle complex issues raised by the deceptively simple two letters – CF, which became a household term during the recent national elections because of the CF-card-PCOS malfunctions. Of course today we are talking about a different CF - Climate Finance, but one that also presents us with a lot of questions.

This is also an opportunity for leaders in the climate agenda, like Mayor Del de Guzman, our friends in the legislature, and policy advocates, who are critical to driving this important evolution in policy paradigm, to get together and exchange crucial analysis about the one of the most, if not the most, important climate change issues that we will have to face this year and in the coming years.

Suffice it to say that the Climate Change Commission has a commitment to a robust climate finance policy, one that puts national interest at the fore, and is consistent with our passionately-negotiated positions in the UNFCCC negotiations. A policy that calls for new, additional, predictable, equitable climate finance.

I do wish to share my thoughts … and now I realize that when I say “my thoughts”, it can often be construed as official government thoughts… on the importance of critical analysis of financial flows, especially as it relates to the climate change scramble to presumptuously claim credit for finding a solution to the climate crisis. Often, we find ourselves being subject to a plethora of carrots and sticks, but mostly carrots laced with a lot of toxins we are not aware of. Most of us are familiar with the principle of bioaccumulation. Our bodies absorb things gradually but the substances remain in our bloodstream.

Essentially, the nature of financial flows from North to South, and now intensified because of climate, makes it looks appealing to the untrained eye. But if you are a skilled policy detective (like Red) and you have a doctorate for sensing things that smell fishy, perhaps because you also took a lot of courses on how the rich countries screw developing countries… you uncover a lot of mess, ‘chaos’ as Red puts it in the report.

In the past, and even up to this day, financial institutions have been able to disguise ill motives with catch-phrases like poverty reduction, development assistance. If they can screw us using poverty alleviation as a front, then all the more they can do it with climate change, which is as vague as it can get.

I also wish to emphasize, and Comm. Lucille has underscored it already, that the Commission plays a crucial role in further uncovering the chaos, finding a remedy, reforming the what needs to be reformed, and ensuring that every time a carrot smells something fishy, nobody should eat the carrot. In a great sense, the Commission should be able to push forward the agenda we have all decided to pursue today.

We live in an era where every morsel of money is tied up with climate change response. Huge resources are being marshaled, all in the name of climate. We all hear pledges from here and there.

Ultimately, the million dollar question would be: would this era mean any difference for the billions of people living in poverty? Would it make any difference for the millions of Filipinos who struggle to survive? If they can infuse money to save the financial institutions during the crisis, will they have the same political will to solve the climate crisis and can such resources be harnessed to fight poverty?

Indeed, "many orthodoxies need to be challenged, and the international order anchored on short-sightedness, profit-seeking, shifting alliances and self-interest, needs to be replaced by sustainability, long-term commitments and partnerships, that respect people’s and nations’ self-determination and promote a rights-based approach to global equity and solidarity." (The Reality of Aid, 2002)

This report is timely because it comes at a time when long-standing assumptions about the global order (with the most massive oil spill in history, with the collapse of the financial system, with the onslaught of climate change) are seriously being put to the test. It is therefore a time when the position and/or potential of international climate finance needs to be closely scrutinized.

(Mal)development, and the vast disparities around the world that separate communities and countries will only be exacerbated by climate change. Climate change sets the stage for more human conflict, more inequity, and more ‘chaos’. Governance ‘chaos’, especially as it relates to climate finance, will remain unless the recipients become more strategic and critical. Climate justice will be beyond reach unless each and every nation, national and local government institution, civil society organizations, and every individual has a share in the common future.

Fundamental institutional reforms are necessary to ensure that the international financial institutions reflect the interests of all, not just those who are already wielding the carrot and the stick.

Friends, in closing, (and I am confident I can say the same on behalf of Comm. Sering), I would like to restate my commitment to fostering responsibility in the Commission to arrest the chaos and institutionalize reforms and solutions.

I look forward to many years of collaboration with all of you.

Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment