Fight against climate change

November 03, 2019
Young lawyers and law students
THE young lawyers and law students (L-R) — Shannon Peters (Oceania), Nicole Ponce (Asia), Miranda Steed (Europe and the Americas), Tarini Mehta (South Asia and Africa) — who filed the People’s Petition against climate change before the UN-ICJ. Receiving the Petition is lawyer Tanya Ramiro, representing the Philippine Consulate and UN Mission. Holding a Philippine flag is Fil-Am youth volunteer Gabriel Cohen.

THE Philippines is again at the forefront of the environmental movement, this time in the global fight against climate change.  

Young Filipinos, joined by other youth leaders from around the world, filed a letter-petition with the United Nations last September 24, to start legal proceedings in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based on the question:

“In this climate crisis, what are the duties of States (governments) to future generations?

The UN petitioners were led by Shannon Peters representing the Oceania region of Australia and Pacific Island States, Nicole Ponce for Asia, Miranda Steed for Europe and the Americas and Tarini Mehta for South Asia and Africa.   

The group filed the first letter-petition before the global body through the Philippine Mission to the UN. The petition was graciously received by lawyer Tanya Ramiro of the Philippine Consulate in New York.

The ICJ (I am Climate Justice) movement is a global initiative of young people to call on the world’s governments to take strong, serious, and sustained action to face the climate crisis.  

The new global movement draws inspiration from a 1993 Philippine Supreme Court decision on the duties of States — and the right of children and future generations — for a safe, clean, and livable environment.

The youth leaders were joined in New York by two world-renowned Filipino environmental advocates, namely:

Former Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Mayor Edward Hagedorn and lawyer Tony Oposa.  

Hagedorn, known as the ‘First Green Mayor of the World,’ received the UN Global Roll of Honor in 1997. He was cited for being the first local government leader to put sustainable development as the cornerstone of his administration.  

Oposa, also a recipient of the UN Global Roll of Honor and of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, was recently appointed the Normandy Chair for Peace.

Oposa was responsible for the 1993 ‘Children’s Case’ where the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the government must assure a safe, clean and livable environment for future generations, as well as the SC’s 2008 decision ordering a dozen government agencies to clean up Manila Bay.  

Hagedorn, in a separate interview, said that aside from giving inspiration to the world’s next generation, they also encouraged the petitioners to gather more volunteers for the campaign.

“There is no heart stronger than a volunteer,” Hagedorn noted.

The youth leaders -- made up of law students, young lawyers, and ordinary citizens — are also gathering 10 million signatures around the world to support the petition before the UN and the International Court of Justice.