DAVAO CITY, Philippines, 27 July 2018 – The Asia Pacific Healthy Islands Conference came to a close here today with the Philippines and several Pacific island nations linking practical solutions with various public health problems worsened by the impacts of climate change.
In 2015, the Philippines joined forces with Pacific island nations and other developing countries to ensure the Paris climate agreement limits global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
President Rodrigo Duterte blasted the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and called on all countries to honor it. “Climate change is not a typhoon that visits your country once a year. Climate change is a day to day problem,” President Duterte said, adding that “a one degree change in the temperature would be disastrous.”
“These are not easy times for the peoples of the Pacific. Yet our countries have also taken the lead in international collaboration and action,” according to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, in a message read also during the welcome reception last Wednesday.
“We have all pushed for the adoption of the Paris climate agreement, particularly its goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to provide our countries a fighting chance to not only survive but also thrive,” she added.
“It is Fiji who brought to the United Nations climate negotiations the Talanoa Dialogue, and we shall aspire for that spirit of inclusiveness, participation, and transparency during this forum. Likewise, the Republic of Marshall Islands which will soon chair the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a formidable coalition of 48 developing countries,” Mayor Sara Duterte noted.
Health Secretary Magdalena Walter of the Federated States of Micronesia said on the sidelines of the conference that their small islands are facing not only the climbing waves of non-communicable diseases but also the rising seas brought about by climate change.
“We’ve seen the impact of global warming with sea level rise. It’s also part of climate change, some unexpected diseases which we’ve never had before. Food security is really a big challenge because of people moving from the smaller islands to the bigger central areas, said Secretary Walter, who was a nurse in her country for over 20 years. “The question now is how to house them, how to feed them.”
Tuvalu’s health minister Satini Tulaga Manuella said their country, composed of atoll islands with no high ground, is on the forefront of climate change.
“As (health) minister, the issue I am more concerned with is the impact of climate change on our people. Because we are very vulnerable to climate change and the infrastructure that we have doesn’t equip us to protect our people,” he said.
A Philippine climate and energy policy group lauded the country’s concerted drive to act on public health and climate resilience through the conference.
“The government is taking the right approach to tackle climate change from a development lens, combining health, climate and resilience,” said Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Photos (©Manman Dejeto/ICSC) can be downloaded from our Google Drive press kit folder.
The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Philippine-based climate and energy policy group working locally, nationally, and internationally.
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