By Azer Parrocha

CLIMATE CHANGE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers his speech at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union (ASEAN-EU) Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday (Dec. 14, 2022). Marcos urged EU member states to continue extending support to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), citing how Southeast Asia is globally considered one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday (Brussels time) urged European Union (EU) member states to continue extending support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), citing how Southeast Asia is globally considered one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change.

He made this call in his opening remarks as country coordinator of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels.

“We are currently losing huge chunks of our natural resources at a rate difficult to repair and impossible to replenish in our lifetime. The ACB’s work is vital in preserving and growing ASEAN’s rich natural heritage which serves as a main pillar of our culture and our economy,” he said.

The ACB, which is based in Los Baños, Laguna, is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates cooperation and coordination with the 10 ASEAN member states and international organizations on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Marcos said the Philippines would “vigorously pursue collaboration and coordination” with the EU to facilitate green technology transfer and cooperation between the two blocs.

“It is a race against time to conserve and prevent habitat and biodiversity loss,” he said, lamenting how climate change “threatens to radically transform for the worse many vulnerable ASEAN landscapes.”

He likewise expressed keenness in forging a closer maritime cooperation between ASEAN and the EU based on the “intersection of priority areas between the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, underpinned by ASEAN Centrality.”

“Beyond declaring respect and support for UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) as the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and seas, we need to see an effective application of the UNCLOS to address the maritime disputes and geopolitical rivalry in the Indo-Pacific to truly realize the still-distant aspiration for the Indo-Pacific to become a sea of peace and prosperity for us all,” he said.

Marcos sought closer bloc-to-bloc relations, especially “at this time of economic recovery from the ravages caused by the pandemic and the current threats on the supply chain.”

He also expressed hope to see the proposed Philippine-EU Free Trade Agreement move beyond scoping negotiations soon.

During the ASEAN-EU working luncheon with EU leaders and businessmen, Marcos called for “more progress” in the commitment of rich nations to set up a “loss and damage” fund to support poorer countries severely impacted by climate change.

He recognized the agreement of nearly 200 countries at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to create a funding mechanism to compensate vulnerable nations for “loss and damage” from climate-related disasters but noted that many questions remain unanswered.

“We really would like to see much more progress in terms of that, the financing, with the mitigation and the adjustment of our countries who are at great risk to the effects of climate change,” he said in his speech.

Marcos has repeatedly guaranteed that the Philippines’ resiliency and adaptation to the “new normals” of climate change are on top of his administration’s national agenda.

The Philippines has been the ASEAN-EU country coordinator since 2021 and will stay in that role until 2024. (PNA)