Biodiversity and climate change – international responsibility and cooperation

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Gordon Kricke (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

Last Monday the World Environment Day 2017 was celebrated and this year’s theme “Connecting People to Nature” is an apt reminder to all of us to get outdoors and into nature more often. I had the good luck last week to be able to visit a project of the German development cooperation for the protection of the natural forest in the beautiful province of Antique where I also participated in a mountain bike race organized to promote the project and the protection of the environment in general. I have to admit, I was one of the last to reach the finishing line – the competitors were just too strong. Nevertheless it was a great experience and I could experience once again closely the natural beauty of the Philippines.

The country is a global hotspot for biodiversity and the fast shrinking mountain forest in Panay is a good example of this. It is a refuge for endangered species, such as the Dulungan hornbill and Rafflesia plants which are only found on this island or the Visayan warty pig and the Visayan spotted deer which are threatened with extinction. But it is also the most important carbon sink in the region and it guarantees the flow of water into most of the rivers in Panay. When you are in the forest in Panay you can truly understand what the German poet Hermann Hesse wanted to say with the words “Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.”

Forests are veritable treasure troves of nature. They are home to about 75 percent of all known plant and animal species. They produce oxygen, bind carbon dioxide and thus have a major influence on the Earth’s climate. Forests store water and help regulate temperature and rainfall. In short, forests are vital to the survival of the human race.

The project in Panay is just one of several projects where Germany and the Philippines work together to protect biodiversity and to fight against climate change. Around 62 million Euros have already been allocated in recent years for bilateral projects in these areas and more is already announced for the future. Together with Peace Building and Conflict Transformation in Mindanao this is one of the focal areas of Germany’s development cooperation with the Philippines, which benefits as well from 10 regional and 28 global projects. Also the European Union has an important regional program for the protection of biodiversity.

Climate change concerns all of us. But it is clear that developed countries have to shoulder more responsibilities. Germany accepts this, stands by its obligations from the Paris Agreement and has already supported more than 500 projects with a funding volume of around 2.3 billion Euro in over 120 countries in the framework of its International Climate Initiative. The Philippines is one of our most important partners in that field.

It is a scientific fact that climate change is largely man-made. Failing to limit the rise in global temperature would have devastating consequences: some scenarios predict that sea levels could rise by several meters. We all must work together to prevent this from happening and the Paris Climate Agreement is a very important step to safeguard the world for future generations.

(Gordon Kricke is the Ambassador of Germany.)


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