Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the inclusion of an accelerated climate change agenda in the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the inclusion of an accelerated climate change agenda in the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan

Much evidence revealing conclusive links between environmental degradation and unsustainable development have been presented by climate scientists throughout decades. The Philippines alone has been ranked in multiple indices as one of the countries most affected by extreme climate events[1]. Since 2012, the country has been annually subjected to highly destructive typhoons—causing losses in the economy, livelihoods, infrastructures, and actual lives.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UN HRC), in 2018, declared through General Comment No. 36[2] that in respecting and ensuring the right to life, State parties such as the Philippines must inform their relevant obligations under international environmental law. Meaning, implementation and fulfillment of obligations pertaining to the right to life includes measures undertaken by the State “to preserve the environment and protect it against harm, pollution, and climate change caused by public and private actors.”

In line with this, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the inclusion of an accelerated climate change agenda in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for the years 2023 to 2028. The five-year PDP was developed by the National Economic and Development Authority alongside other government agencies and stakeholders. Chapter 15 of PDP 2023-2028, entitled “Accelerate Climate Action and Strengthen Disaster Resilience,” identifies specific goals for communities and institutions to build climate resilience and reduce disaster risks.

With only seven years left until the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s deadline to reduce global gas emissions by half in 2030, the Commission acknowledges the government’s commitment to deliver key climate actions at such a critical time.

It can also be recalled that CHR released a landmark inquiry on climate change in 2022. The National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC) Report[3] details recommendations of the CHR to the Philippine government—across its three branches—for an inclusive, non-discriminatory, and a human rights-based approach to climate action. These are some of the recommendations outlined by CHR: collaboration of government agencies towards innovative climate solutions; adoption of a National Action Plan on business and human rights to support the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and a just transition towards an environmentally stable economy.

CHR notes that developments have been made regarding the above-listed recommendations—PDP 2023-2028 includes integrated and comprehensive climate action between and among government, partners, and stakeholders. In addition, it names strategies for enhancing ecosystem resilience and enabling transition to a ‘low-carbon’ economy. The Commission likewise recognises the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for updating the National Climate Change Action Plan and the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions. We hope that the CCC also adopts measures to help hold accountable businesses in violation of environmental and human rights laws.

CCC Vice Chair and Executive Director Robert Borje in a statement said, “Climate change is an overarching governance issue that impacts and affects different development aspects and components for the nation.”

As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR will continue to pursue meaningful collaboration with government actors by advising them on climate migration and adaptation through policy advisories, as well as in the development of laws and legal frameworks based on international climate agreements. We will also engage in active dialogue with businesses and the private sector in order to eliminate acts of obfuscation and conduct due diligence of environmental and human rights impacts, including redress mechanisms for victims of climate change-related events.

We hark back to the speech of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2022. He said, “Inequalities and inequities within and among countries continue to persist, and they continue to demand urgent action.”

Until climate justice is achieved, CHR commits to be faithful to its mandate, particularly for those severely impacted but have least contributed to the climate crises. ###

[1] Global Climate Risk Index 2020

[2] General comment No. 36 on article 6: right to life, issued by the Human Rights Committee. Adopted by the Committee at its 124th session (8 October–2 November 2018).

[3] National Inquiry on Climate Change Report, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP).