The country’s youth delegate to the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) urged the member-countries on Friday to make climate financing a reality before it is too late, highlighting the Philippines’ vulnerability to calamities induced by changing weather.

“As climate change impacts worsen, the need for climate financing for the Philippines becomes more acute and urgent. Already, we are struggling to capture in numbers the economic loss and damage we sustain from climate change events,” said Javea Maria Estavillo, the Philippines’ youngest youth delegate to COP28 in her address at the climate gathering in Dubai.

“We urge the member-countries to make climate financing exclusively for loss and damage a reality NOW,” declared Estavillo, a 17-year old incoming senior at British School Manila where she is currently the head student.

An advocate of climate change, Estavillo has interned as climate change and loss analyst at the Manila Observatory. She also attended the pre-COP conference in Bonn, Germany last June.*

According to Estavillo, between 2011 and 2021, the Philippine Development Plan pegged the country’s loss and damage at PhP673.30 billion from tropical cyclones alone, eating up to 7.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 and 13 percent by 2040.

These numbers and the inability to quantify other damages highlight the need for accountability, Estavillo said, pointing out that the Philippines’ limited resources will not be able to provide any relief for affected Filipinos in a timely manner.

“It is imperative to lobby for climate financing for loss and damage from countries with more financial resources, especially those that are the largest contributors to climate change, following the commitments under the COP, Kyoto Protocol, and Paris Agreement,” she stressed.

Estavillo was referring to the previous agreements of developed nations at the annual COP negotiations to increase the financing needed by developing nations for climate change adaptation to reach the goals set by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

The Kyoto Protocol commits industrialized countries and economies to limit greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions while the Paris Agreement of 2015 covers climate change mitigation, adaption and finance.

“However, while developed countries acknowledge this obligation, they have been slow in making the financial commitments needed to make climate financing operational. Even slower are they on agreeing to the mechanism to bring forth assistance to the more vulnerable nations,” Estavillo said.

Estavillo argued that even in the most developed nations, but most especially in the developing world, disaster preparedness requires strong public and private sector collaboration.

With the government acknowledging the important role of the youth in climate change, Estavillo that said youth organizations should embrace the support given by public and private sectors for them to operate with more resources.

She also highlighted the importance of innovation, technology and data analysis to fighting climate change and in making communities more adaptable to changing weather.

“Empowering the youth with science and data will amplify our voices and be crucial in lobbying for policy-level change,” Estavillo said.

In the midst of the current geopolitical turmoil, everyone should remember that climate change is a crisis akin to war – destructive, all-consuming, and unjust, she said.

Estavillo emphasized that the youth have the most at stake in this climate crisis, noting people’s very lives are intertwined with the condition of the planet inherited from the older generations.

“Ready or not, we were thrust into this race to save the Earth, and we face a must-win situation. Losing would spell planetary catastrophe,” she said.

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