Environmental advocates troop to the United Nations Human Rights Council one year into the Marcos Jr. administration

June 30, 2023

Press Release
June 29, 2023

Geneva, Switzerland – The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines Inc. (CEC) is part of the delegation of human rights advocates from the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch (PH UPR Watch) which attended the 53rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, whose session coincides with the Marcos Jr. administration marking its first year in office.

CEC met with various Human Rights Council Special Procedures mandate holders or their representatives including, among others, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Ian Fry, and on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Morris Tindall-Binz.

CEC’s Executive Director Lia Mai Torres attended the Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur Ian Fry on the mandate’s report entitled “Providing legal options to protect the human rights of persons displaced across international borders due to climate change.” According to the report, 38 million people were displaced from their homes in 2021 and 22.3 million people were displaced by weather-related events. However, the Special Rapporteur views that the numbers can reach hundreds of thousands annually. Among the conclusions is that “the Paris Agreement should develop funding arrangements to assist persons displaced across international borders due to climate change to address their vulnerabilities.”

A representative of the Philippine government attending the dialogue said that the Philippines’ disaster risk reduction and management favors interventions related to disaster displacement that are respectful of human rights. The intervention submitted by CEC however pointed out that “There are no existing policy instruments in the Philippines, like many countries, that directly address climate change-induced migration. We are ill-equipped and poorly prepared to face internal migrations and disruptions due to climate change, much less the possible influx of climate refugees from neighboring countries.”

CEC’s intervention highlighted that “while important, addressing climate displacement should not preclude addressing the issues and vulnerabilities that cause displacement and other disastrous impacts of climate change.” This refers to environmentally damaging and destructive projects and policies related to large-scale mining, land reclamation and large dams, among others, that cause ecological imbalance that weakens climate resilience, which is part and parcel of the overall achievement of the right to access a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

One year into the Marcos Jr. administration, we have seen that such projects and policies are still in place despite its public declarations to declare climate change. “Aside from the continuation of climate risk projects, Filipino environmental human rights defenders are not optimistic about the prospects of genuine climate action based on the principles of climate justice in the remaining five years of the Marcos Jr. administration, given the 12 cases of killings of environmental advocates and climate activists that have already occurred,” said Torres.

“CEC continues to call on fellow Filipinos and the international community to keep a watchful eye on the Marcos Jr. administration and continue ensuring ecological balance is achieved by preventing environmentally damaging and destructive activities, gearing away from false climate solutions, shifting away from the neoliberal model that facilitates the hyper-extraction by foreign interests of our natural resources, and addressing systematic inequality and poverty that strips away our capacity to adapt to climate disasters,” added Torres. ###


Contact person:

Lia Mai Torres
Executive Director, Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines Inc.
Member, Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch
lia@cecphils.org; +63 9097273371 (Signal/WhatsApp/Viber)


Videos of the interactive dialogue on climate change


Report of the Special Rapporteur on climate change

Full intervention submitted by CEC

Intervention submitted by CEC in partnership with Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, World Council of Churches (CCIA-WCC) at the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council