By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will leave Manila on Thursday to attend the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) 28 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Dubai, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

Marcos will be the 11th speaker during the COP28 plenary and will attend a leader session on transforming climate finance, DFA Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa Almojuela said in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañan.

“There will be a family photo of heads of states. So far, we are aware that there are over 140 heads of states, governments and royalties that have confirmed their attendance to this COP 28,” Almojuela said, noting that the biggest events will be the World Climate Action Summit and engagements at the leaders’ level.

Loss and Damage Fund

The establishment of the framework for the Loss and Damage Fund would be “one of the priorities” in this year’s COP, Almojuela said.

The fund aims to provide financial assistance to vulnerable developing countries grappling with the adverse effects of climate change.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, who joined the press briefing via Zoom, said the discussion on Loss and Damage Fund is “extremely important,” given that “there are losses and damages that are beyond our ability to finance”.

“The fund is meant to cover all the financing needed that cannot be addressed anymore by adaptation finance, by regular climate finance, by mitigation finance. This is beyond the capacity of countries,” Yulo-Loyzaga said.

“And therefore, developed countries and other sources such as private sources, perhaps, will be called upon to put their contributions into the Loss and Damage Fund. It is extremely important that this becomes operationalized soonest, and that we are able to access it in a timely and locally-driven fashion,” she added.

The COP28 would also focus on commitments to fast-track the energy transition, deliver and enhance climate finance, and ensure resilient food systems, Almojuela said.

“I believe that the President’s engagements will reflect the priority that the Philippines attaches to all these thematic agenda of the conference,” she said.

Over 70,000 delegates, including heads of state and world leaders, are expected to join the COP28, which will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates.

The delegates will build consensus and facilitate progress on climate action among 198 countries, the European Union and thousands of non-government organizations, companies, youth groups and other stakeholders

Almojuela said the Philippines has so far 237 registered onsite delegates from 16 agencies and civil society for the COP28.

“And many of them will be staying behind after the President has completed his program for the negotiation which usually extends beyond two or a couple of days beyond the schedule because these are very important conversations,” she said.

Bilateral meetings

Almojuela said the Philippine government is also finalizing “a dozen” of bilateral meetings between Marcos and world leaders participating in COP28.

She said the bilateral meetings are “subject of consultations”.

“I think we will have more clarity on which meetings will actually take place,” Almojuela said. “So, we’re not sure at this time. But right now, we’re working on a dozen bilateral meetings for the President.”

Other side events

Before participating in COP28, Marcos is scheduled to meet with the Filipino community when he arrives in Dubai on Thursday afternoon, Almojuela said.

Almojuela said Marcos would also grace on Friday the opening of the Philippine Pavilion and serve as keynote speaker in a side event organized by the Philippines, together with the Government of Kenya and the International Organization for Migration Director General Amy Pope.

“This side event will be about the Philippines leading and pushing for a stronger global consensus, and the next is between climate change and migration,” she said. (PNA)