Haoliang Xu: Statement at the Conclusion of the Sherpa Senior Officials Meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Manila

Nov 11, 2015

Haoliang Xu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia Pacific, at the conclusion of the Climate Vulnerable Forum's Sherpa Senior Officials Meeting held at the Kalayaan Hall, Malacanang Palace, Manila. Photo: UNDP/Luisa Jolongbayan

By: Haoliang Xu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia Pacific


It is a pleasure to speak to you all today at this very important forum.


I would like to start by commending the Government of the Philippines for convening this meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Both the Government and President Aquino have shown great leadership on the issue of climate vulnerability, and it is encouraging to see almost 40 countries from so many parts of our world come together in this remarkable show of solidarity and support ahead of the Paris climate change conference. I would also like to commend the other governments who have joined us here and whose support and cooperation have helped make this meeting a success.


With less than a month to go before COP21, there has never been a more important moment to come together and to call for an ambitious, equitable and actionable deal to tackle climate change. The countries represented here have sent a message that they support a common approach to ensuring success in Paris and beyond.


As negotiations are set to continue in Paris, UNDP is optimistic that the desire for a long-term and transformational climate agenda will overcome individual differences and put the world on a path that is sustainable and resilient. Over the last three days, representatives here in Manila have found time to discuss critical issues, including those related to finance, capacity building, technology, human rights, and migration, and I am encouraged by your commitment and your constructive and pragmatic approach to tackling global policy challenges.


This committed approach is understandable. Here in the Philippines, memories of Typhoon Haiyan linger, as do memories of scores of past storms and floods that have impacted people and communities. The Philippines is not alone in this regard. Every country at the Climate Vulnerable Forum has faced major climate-related calamities, and we know that as global warming intensifies, such environmental pressures will only increase.


At UNDP, with a presence in 177 countries globally, we have an incredible vantage point to see both the impact of climate change as well as the many examples of success and innovation on the ground. I’m pleased to say that despite the constraints and challenges your countries have made remarkable advances that are commendable.  Whether it’s in renewable energy diffusion, community based adaptation, or ecosystems management, you have time and again shattered preconceived notions about what is possible in the fight against climate change.


Globally, innovations has made a huge difference in addressing urgent and pressing development challenges such as by responding to climate disasters, by improving avenues to engage citizens in political processes and governance, and by promoting more transparent and responsive governments. In recent years, we are seeing a world that is increasingly real time and the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) has become increasingly widespread and has not only resulted in improvements in economic productivity but had crucial impact on governments looking to provide more citizen friendly, transparent and accountable, people-oriented public services. 


We are engaged in partnerships to explore the use of new frontier technologies such as the Internet of Things and Virtual Realities to address disaster and climate risk recovery.


We at UNDP want to partner with you to combat climate change.  We are actively engaged in environmental projects in dozens of countries across the world. We are helping to integrate biodiversity into economic development planning and operations; we are addressing climate change by reducing carbon emissions from forest loss; and we are securing ecosystem services for climate change adaptation, such as the flood control services provided by intact wetlands and mangrove forests.


Our work has greatly benefited especially from our greatly valued partnership with the Global Environment Facility, and we also thank the other partners and funds which support our biodiversity portfolio.


For years, we have been working to support governments in reducing risks from disaster, in helping communities build resilience, and in assisting to set up early warning systems, and we are achieving results.

Recently, we supported the initiative of the government of the Philippines in creating the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). We helped set up its offices, provided equipment, and assisted with drafting the post-Haiyan "Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan" based on a bottom up needs assessment and under strong government leadership.


We have drawn on our experience and encouraged South-South cooperation, for example, by facilitating a visit of experts from the Indonesian government – who managed the Banda Aceh reconstruction – to the Philippines so they could share expertise and ideas.  

These types of exchanges, support, training, and education have had an impact. Most recently, in the case of Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) - while not as strong as Haiyan – 
preparedness and planning was reported to have played a vital role in saving lives, when the typhoon made multiple landfalls on the East coast of the Philippines.


Yet, while immense strides have been made globally by us all, we still have a long way to go. Climate change mitigation and adaptation shortfalls continue to leave the most vulnerable countries and communities exposed. The Paris agreement must acknowledge this and ensure that support – both financial and capacity building – is available to undertake mitigation and adaptation.


The Climate Vulnerable Forum and the meeting in Manila have helped to send this message. They have also helped to showcase to the world that there are tried and tested solutions that need scaling up. From villages in the Sahel learning to conserve water and adapt to new seed varieties, to exposed coastal regions of the Asia and the Pacific planting ‘green walls’ and learning to manage sea-level rise, the countries represented here today have a great deal to offer to the global effort to tackle climate change, and these voices must be heard and these initiatives supported. 


While the CVF is not a negotiating group, the advocacy, dialogue, exchange and collaboration that takes place here can still have a very important role in shaping outcomes. At UNDP we are proud to support these initiatives and are honoured to host the Secretariat of the CVF as well as the newly formed V20.


Before I close, I would like to thank the donors to the CVF support project of UNDP, in particular Germany and the CVF Trust Fund, for enabling us to support your critical efforts on climate policy dialogue and action. As well, I would like to commend once again the collective leadership of all of you here who strive to ensure success in Paris and beyond and add that we look forward to working with you to make this happen. 


Thank you.

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