Ahead of COP27, recent reports show a record-high level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, yet current nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are insufficient and not ambitious enough; a system-wide transformation is urgently needed. Crises continue to happen, with Typhoon Odette in December 2021, Typhoon Karding in September 2022, and, during the last week of October, massive flooding across many areas in the Philippines.
The response in the aftermath of Yolanda and the development efforts that followed to rebuild lives and livelihoods provide rich lessons. Yet, clearly, we have not learned.
Much of development and critical infrastructures are still being built in places that are exposed to coastal hazards. Access to productive livelihoods continue to be a challenge for the resettled communities. And as shown above, the fundamental human rights of those who suffered from the wrath of the super typhoon remains unfulfilled.
Catastrophic losses and damages due to the deepening climate crisis will continue unless we act with haste and ambition.
As negotiations are underway in Sharm el-Sheik, the experiences and lessons learned from Yolanda will inform the deliberations of the parties. It is vital that States set ambitious NDCs and commit to their realization. The creation of financing mechanisms extending beyond climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction to address loss and damage must be set and committed.
Measures need to put front and center the needs, capacities, and human rights of vulnerable communities. Funding must be directly accessible without additional burdens and communities must play key roles as decision-makers every step of the way.
Whether one practices pa-siyam or not, Yolanda’s ninth anniversary is not the end of learning and reflections. It should guide us to end the disproportional vulnerabilities experienced by local communities. Through committed action and robust and rooted policy frameworks, States and stakeholders have the power to ensure there will be no more Yolandas to happen anywhere in the world.