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Regional Dialogue Promotes Actions to Address Climate-Security Risks in the BARMM, Philippines

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Davao City, 17 March 2023 – The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), concluded a two-day regional dialogue on “Exploring the Nexus of Climate Change, Conflict and Human Mobility and the Lived Experiences of the Bangsamoro.”

The event marked a key milestone of the project that, for the very first time in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), sought to establish evidence on the interlinkages between climate change, conflict and human mobility, and aimed to strengthen socioeconomic resilience of Bangsamoro communities to climate-related security risks.

During the event, key findings were presented from the participatory action research conducted through the project and commissioned through the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), to better understand the effects of climate change to people’s lives in conflict-prone communities and their coping capacity to its impacts.

“Climate change and its impact on security, human mobility, displacement, job insecurity and many other pressing issues should, just as other vital matters, be given the required attention and resources,” said Alistair White, the Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy in the Philippines, highlighting the importance of the research in raising awareness and driving collective efforts to address climate-related security risks.

“While climate change exacerbates conflict, conflict in turn prevents people from successfully coping with climate change — that’s why slow onset climate change is difficult to quantify and therefore address. It is our role to fill in that gap in understanding how conflict affects people’s social and economic vulnerability to the impact of climate change,” said Narciso Jover Jr, research team leader of MPC. “It is exceedingly necessary for government and humanitarian actors to keep at pace with the steady and multi-faceted ramifications of climate change and its consequential impacts on the economic and sociocultural life in the Bangsamoro region.”

The event brought together various stakeholders from key BARMM Ministries, Bangsamoro Parliament, local governments, and civil society organizations at an opportune time as the BARMM underscored climate change action as a priority agenda in the 2nd Bangsamoro Development Plan 2023-2028 and steps up its efforts to tackle relevant challenges.

The event provided an opportunity for participants to discuss the research recommendations and formulate action points to address climate-related security risks, including the impact of climatic changes and ongoing conflict on agriculture and fisheries — one of BARMM’s largest industries — which threaten the climate-sensitive livelihoods of farmers and fishers. The discussion led to the climate’s role in worsening food insecurity in the region which in turn exacerbates protracted poverty, forcing families to consider migration as a last resort. This displacement from their communities and cultural roots increases their risk of human trafficking in their search for better jobs outside their places of origin.

The dialogue highlighted the need for a concerted and comprehensive effort from all sectors to respond to these interlinked issues. Mary Ann Arnado, a member of the BARMM Parliament, said that we need to “acknowledge and wake up to the new reality that we are in a climate emergency” without which we will remain in “a vicious cycle and all our interventions will not be cost effective. We need to retool, we need to study, we need to read more and look at other experiences in other areas so that we will be more equipped in dealing with this.” Parliament member Tawakal Midtimbang also affirmed the commitment of the BARMM Parliament to craft legislation through the Committee on Environment. “To my fellow Members of Parliament, I challenge us to develop an environmental code and file bills to solve climate change,” he said.

Carol Kay Paquera of the Climate Change Commission discussed the Philippines’ Republic Act 10174 which established the People’s Survival Fund “to finance adaptation projects aimed at increasing resiliency of communities and ecosystems to climate change,” a critical step in addressing the climate crisis.

Rasid Sabpa, Assistant Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer of the Municipality of Shariff Aguak, shared their appreciation of the dialogue event. “We are able to identify additional possible interventions that we can add to our local climate change action plans, which will help mitigate the effects of climate change and conflict in our community. This requires the support of our local chief executive and active participation and involvement of the constituents to ensure that it is implemented at the local level,” he said.

“The active participation of the stakeholders not only facilitated the crucial exchange of knowledge and skills but also helped shape the way forward to guide BARMM governments and communities in instituting climate mitigation and adaptation strategies in the context of conflict,” said Michael Dumamba, Head of the Emergency and Post-Crisis Unit of IOM Philippines. “I hope that the event inspired everyone to take further action that can transcend to achieving sustainable peace and development in the BARMM,” continued Dumamba.

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