By Easter Canoy
As I step into the big and solid Ministry buildings here in Berlin where the board meeting of the Green Climate Fund takes place, I imagine what it would have felt like if the grand elders and shaman of the mountains of Kitanglad would have joined me. True, in my lobbying for direct access to the Green Climate Fund I will be searching for allies and listeners to our cause. But what would THEY do to make sure that on this meeting, the basic fundamental rights will not be lost in debates and translations?
My good friend Bae Inatlawan told me that ‘there’s got to be something very human and spiritual in this pursuit’. I always keep that in mind whenever we are together in Manila looking for donors and volunteers to sustain our small undertakings to save the last forests of Northern Mindanao. Here, just like back home in the Phillipines, I only have my stories with me, my bullet truths so to speak.
Last Tuesday we met the rest of the climate activists of the Civil Society Organizations from the North and South. In these meetings, I was looking for allies for the indigenous peoples because that’s what my organization in the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN) is all about. It’s a relief to discover that Indigenous People, just like women (gender) and concerns for the most vulnerable and affected with climate change are at the core of CSO advocacy in GCF.
The presence of CSOs in every GCF meetings serves as a constant reminder of the actual purpose of the Green Climate Fund. That it’s not a development funding, nor a business enterprise, or even a fund raising campaign –waiting for another pledge from the rich countries extending its pity to the disaster torn countries of the South.
The reason for this North and South dialogue and alliance is that over centuries, somewhere along our way to the future, a massive concentration of greenhouse gases has caused the dangerous climate change. A global phenomenon woke us all to remind us that we are Earthlings and no matter if rich and poor we are going to be affected of such massive consequences that harmed the planet. North and South countries have different responsibilities but they must proceed with a common vision of our future.
In the Philippines, down in Mindanao, we’ve been struck by two unusual storms: typhoons Washi in December 2011 and Bopha in December 2012. These incidents have changed our reality: we’ve seen how responses from international donor agencies arrived much faster than how our Government could act. We’ve also seen the rise of local scientists classifying what could be autonomous and planned adaptive measures.
I had meetings with tribal elders narrating how their wildlife sanctuaries, native plant material stocks, and mini-forests (managed by clans) were ravaged by typhoons. We’ve heard stories of Filipina women who need support for their small gardens to install little greenhouse so that their seeds will not dry out with too much sun exposure. There’s still fifty thousand Indigenous Peoples in Compostela Valley, victims of Bopha who still need shelter, food, potable water and medicines.
The GCF Board will not find the above stories unique because such climate crises keep occurring in many parts of the world. I do believe though that here in Berlin, the outcome of todays and tomorrows conclusive meeting can make a difference. In the GCF Board meeting, one can see a global conduct of leaders whose minds and hearts we need to trust. At the end of the day, when all of us will return home and face our local realities, we need to take home something that could spark hope to the voiceless and powerless.
(Easter Canoy is executive director of the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs in Bukidnon. This article first appeared at http://www.bothends.org/en/News/Weblog/weblog/27/weblogmessage/111/Maria-%E2%80%9CChy%E2%80%9D-Santos-Canoy-Taking-home-a-spark-of-hope and is reprinted with permission by the author.)