Messrs. Edwin S. Estrada and RJ Marco Lorenzo C. Parcon of the Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI) Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), represented the Philippines in the Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on Climate Change and the Role of ASEAN in Climate Change Politics last 19-20 June in Yangon, Myanmar. The RTD sought to provide answers to some of the most relevant and pressing climate-related concerns in the region including the role of ASEAN in climate change politics, the need to transition to renewable energy, and issues surrounding the recently concluded Paris Agreement.
The RTD, which was co-organized by Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Myanmar ISIS) and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), recognized Southeast Asia as one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the world, with four of the top ten vulnerable countries coming from the region. While ASEAN has already established various committees and mechanisms to help curb the effects of climate change, the RTD pointed out that there is still a need to reinforce these initiatives with concrete activities that directly benefit the ASEAN region.
The Philippine presentation stressed that the Philippine government has already instituted several legal instruments to help fight climate change and its underlying drivers. Foremost among these mechanisms is the Climate Change Act of 2009, which recognizes the vulnerability of the country and its people to the effects of climate change. The presentation further emphasized the importance of dynamic interstate cooperation, establishment of feasible action plans, effective implementation of existing ones, and the creation of a sustainable long term regional strategy based on sound research in the fight against climate change.
During the open forum, participants highlighted ASEAN’s role as a conduit for regional and global cooperation to address climate change. A possible ASEAN climate fund was also proposed to lessen the region’s dependence on assistance from developed countries outside ASEAN and encourage regional self-reliance.
The RTD was attended by 43 participants from various think tanks under the ASEAN-ISIS umbrella representing the ten ASEAN Member States. In addition, Mr. Ky-Anh Nguyan, Director of the ASEAN Secretariat’s Sustainable Development Directorate, also provided perspectives on ASEAN initiatives and agreements on climate change.