AKSYON KLIMA PILIPINAS [Aksyon Klima] is a dynamic and fast-evolving network of civil society organizations (CSO’s) in the Philippines that banded together to grapple more effectively with the serious threats posed by the global climate crisis on our highly vulnerable country and people. Although member organizations carry diverse perspectives and separate agendas for social, political, economic or environmental development, they share a common recognition that climate change is an urgent cross-cutting issue and work collectively to address climate concerns at various levels and in various arenas. Originally, the group was called the Civil Society Organizations’ Working Group (CSO-WG) on Climate Change and Development. However, after having quickly grown in size, strength and involvement in the local, national and international climate action, the network decided to change its name to the more aptly-descriptive AKSYON KLIMA PILIPINAS, or simply Aksyon Klima.
1. Monitor the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations
2. Monitor the implementation of the Climate Change Act of 2009
3. Initiate policy dialogues between policy makers, scientists and civil society and other actors on key policy issues
4. Mobilize scientific and academic, civil society and community involvement in the development of government policies on climate change and positions in international negotiations
5. Support members’ and partners’ initiatives on climate change adaptation
The AK 10-Point Agenda
1. Prioritize adaptation
2. Climate-proof budget and development plans
3. Pass the Peoples’ Survival Fund Bill
4. Review all midnight mining agreements
5. Shift to a renewable and low-carbon energy system
6. Generate a million green jobs out of saving the environment
7. Lobby developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions
8. Fast-track the shift to organic farming
9. Push for immediate-priority technology transfer and its financing
10. Halt all carbon trading until safeguards are in place
HOW DID WE START?
As early as 2004 when typhoons hit the country in a more frequent and intense manner, –concerned stakeholders of the Philippine society, particularly CSOs directly involved with development work in various spheres, started to rethink their development initiatives in light of the adverse impacts wrought by the climate change phenomenon on human lives and habitats locally and globally. The recognition of the dangers posed by this phenomenon served as an impetus for collaborative undertakings which eventually resulted in a number of organizational formations and alignments for climate action.
In 2007, following another series of climate-related disasters suffered by the Philippines, a number of CSO’s expressed a felt need and interest to engage the government towards developing and instituting a coherent national climate change policy and program of action that would encompass local and international levels. A small group of CSO’s carried the ball forward, supported initially by the Christian Aid (and later, by a couple of international humanitarian NGO partners such as Oxfam and 11.11.11, Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement). This formed the core of what would later become known as the CSO-WG on Climate Change and Development. The convening group met several times to discuss and plan their ways forward, and held informal caucuses with other CSOs in different circles to seek their inputs and participation.
After the UNFCCC Bali Summit in Bankok Indonesia in December 2007, the call for coherence in Philippine climate policy gained more resonance, in part due to apparent conflicts in government policy and the confusing existence of two government bodies on CC with unclear delineation of functions and scopes of authority. Thus, subsequent meetings and dialogues convened by the core group gained increased participation from stakeholders, leading to the birth of the CSO Working Group on Climate Change and Development in November 2008, shortly before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 14) in Poznan, Poland.
Initial work undertaken by the network were focused on organizing forums and roundtable discussions on key issues around the UNFCCC negotiations. These efforts lead to the foundation of collective actions that bind its members as well as an opportunity to link with principal government policy officials and donor communities.
The CSO-WG took on the general mandate of serving as the secretariat of CSOs for CC-related work. Its specific tasks included the monitoring of negotiations and unfolding events at the global level. It is actively engaging with the national government on policy concerns such as the implementation of the provisions of the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the formulation of the Philippine position on the Chair’s negotiating text for the climate negotiations. It facilitates the sharing of information, strategies and tactics among the CSOs; and links with local stakeholders to learn their perspectives and positions on climate issues which would help make future CSO-WG work and advocacies more widely relevant and inclusive.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
The CSO WG/ Aksyon Klima has kindled a very active interest in the climate debate through its activities and presence in several advocacy fronts. In a relatively brief span, it has come to be considered as a respected and credible source of information, expertise and skills on matters related to climate change.
National Policy Discussions
Aksyon Klima has led policy discussions on climate related issues, which have resulted in policy recommendations on Philippine negotiating positions and submissions to the UNFCCC. In collaboration with other stakeholders, it drafted the CSO positions on each of the Bali building blocks, namely, Mitigation, Adaptation, Financing, and Technology Development and Transfer which were submitted to the Philippine Negotiating Team and used as basis for the crafting of the Philippine positions in the UNFCCC processes.
Climate Change Commissioners
Its efforts prompted the institutionalization of a consultative process in deciding the Philippine positions in the climate negotiations. Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change (OPACC) issued Special Order (SO) No.5 on July 2009, which created the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) that included the institutionalization of CSO participation in crafting the Philippine positions in the UNFCCC negotiations. This was a pioneering model of government-CSO collaboration where an effective consultative mechanism was adopted for the formulation of national interest positions in the global climate negotiations. It also serves as an accountability and reporting mechanism for the Philippine negotiators in the UNFCCC process. In addition, Aksyon Klima’s productive engagement with OPACC was recognized with the inclusion of CSO advisers from local –based organizations in the Philippine Delegation to the Bangkok Intersessional talks in September 2009.
Aksyon Klima conducted a series of round table discussions on climate change-related issues and concerns ,which drew the participation of representatives of government, civil society, academe, the scientific community, media and the church.
The erstwhile CSO WG was also instrumental in paving the way for civil society participation in the National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, where it chaired a session on Government, CSO and Scientific Community Synergies on Climate Change Adaptation. The conference was organized by the provincial Government of Albay, with support from the GTZ.
In between the RTDs, policy discussions and national conferences, Aksyon Klima managed to build an alliance of civil society organizations coming from diverse political affiliations. Today, it can claim to have the widest membership of organizations representing varied persuasions and political colors ranging from moderate to the extreme left. This is a rare feat for a network where it is usually difficult to establish the basis of unity. However, the Aksyon Klima has succeeded to forge working relationships and cooperation among these diverse groups.
Policy Development and Advocacy
Activities in these areas opened up opportunities for Aksyon Klima members from the provinces to participate in the National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, and enabled members to attend a series of Climate Negotiations Training organized with the help of the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), with the presence of Ms. Bernarditas Muller as one of the Panel of Trainers. These activities also served as a venue for in-depth discussion of the historical context of the UNFCCC, the political dynamics of the ongoing negotiations and the crafting and review of national poisitons in the negotiations.
Regular Feedbacking Sessions are held after each Intersessional to give first-hand account and analysis of the climate talks process.
At the Bangkok Intersessional, Aksyon Klima worked with the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) on the conduct of the Climate Tribunal, with Atty. Tony Oposa as the Lead Prosecutor. Aksyon Klima also organized the Interface Dialogue with Negotiators, inviting Least Developed Countries (LDC) Chair and Lead Negotiator for Maldives, Mr. Amjad Abdullah as main speaker. The group flew-in Albay Governor Joey Salceda to share his groundbreaking work on making the province of Albay,a model for climate governance and one of the most climate- resilient communities in the country.
Aksyon Klima members have actively participated in the process of crafting the network’s recommended version of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Climate Change Commission Act of 2009, as well as in the development of the Climate Change Act’s national framework strategy and its eventual translation into the national action plan.
Three (3) provincial forums on the Climate Change Act of 2009 were conducted. One of these was held in Iloilo City organized by the Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE). The other two (2) were conducted in Davao City and Tagum City, Davao del Norte, both organized by Philnet-RDI. Participants came up with recommendations for the IRR. The Davao City forum, on the other hand, came up with a set of nominees for members of the Climate Change Commission.
The national policy components of the project went hand in hand with policy advocacy at the local level. Local forums on the climate science and climate negotiations were supported.
The three sub-regional forums organized in cooperation with PhilNet-RDI in Cebu City, Davao City, and Naga City highlighted the experiences of PRDCI and other Christian Aid partners in Building Disaster Resilient Communities (BDRC). Re-entry plans that included engagement with local government units regarding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) management were formulated by the participants based on what they had learned from the inputs and discussions.
A small exhibit on DRR was also held at the conference venues. Local media people interviewed the participants and resource persons of the Cebu forum, and affidavits were taken of local testimonies on the negative impacts of climate change for consideration at a ‘hearing’ by a mock Climate Change Tribunal which was held as a side event during the Bangkok intersessional meeting.
The relative success of Aksyon Klima in bringing together diverse groups into its fold lies in its loose character and consensual decision-making. It has attracted the active participation of other networks such as Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), the Philippine Network on Climate Change (PNCC) and some members of the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA). Likewise, Aksyon Klima members have also participated and supported some of these networks’ own activities, including that of Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP). The e-group that it maintains exclusively for members has become a lively venue for discussing urgent issues that arise between meetings and for forging consensus when necessary.
In its engagement with government, meanwhile, what Aksyon Klima has done and accomplished, distinctive of its predecessors, was to strike a delicate balance between collaboration and censure; between accommodation and accountability; between practice and parlance.
Policy and Project Monitoring
Policy interventions at the national and local levels have intensified with the passage of the Climate Change Act. Aksyon Klima closely monitors and regularly conducts policy review sessions to analyse, discuss and propose relevant policy actions.
Aksyon Klima has come up with several national policy statements on the exclusion of seasoned negotiators in Copenhagen; it has questioned a unilateral action of a senior climate official endorsing the Copenhagen Accord without prior consultations; and it has intervened in a flawed process in the crafting of the NFSCC, among others.
Energy projects and extractive industries that are main drivers of climate change are monitored by some of its members, as well as climate change-related financial flows (both bilateral and multilaterals) are likewise directly scrutinized.
On the international arena, some of its members remain as members of the official Philippine delegation to the climate negotiations, while some pursue their advocacies as NGO Observers in the UNFCCC, and others regularly attend the Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings on the crafting of Philippine positions on the Adhoc Working Group on Long term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) Chair’s negotiating text. This is an important aspect of Aksyon Klima’s work because this is how the civil society monitors international commitments made by the Philippine government.
HOW DO WE WORK?
A lean Secretariat is in charge of the day to day operations. It is consists of a National Coordinator, a Project Manager, and a Media and Advocacy Officer. The members participate via thematic clusters, namely: 1) Media and Communications, 2) Policy Development, 3) Campaigns and Advocacy, and 4) Capacity Building.
Ad hoc groups on the ASEAN and on Consultative Processes have been formed. Additional clusters are created as the need arises.
A Steering Committee serves as the spring board for decision making within the group. It is composed of the heads of the clusters.