“COP21: The Road to Paris Starts in Manila” brings civil society at the forefront for the climate

Two months before countries all over the world gather in Paris to conclude a landmark agreement to curb global warming, France is taking an initiative to highlight the role of civil society in climate negotiations in the Philippines and abroad through a Climate Week in Manila.

France, as the host of the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) this December, is responsible for facilitating negotiations and consultations between governments and other stakeholders in preparation for this conference.

Given this mandate, the Embassy of France to the Philippines will be organizing COP21: The Road to Paris Starts in Manila, from October 5 to 11, 2015 with a series of activities involving various NGOs, experts, students and members of the academe, and artists.

COP21: The Road to Paris Starts in Manila, also called Climate Week takes inspiration from the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change, an appeal directed to the international community to cooperate in addressing climate change and to support the conclusion of an ambitious, universal and legally-binding agreement to limit the warming of the Earth to below 2℃ during COP21.

The Manila Call to Action on Climate Change was launched by French President François Hollande, together with President Benigno Aquino III, at the Malacañang Palace Grounds during his state visit to the country last February 26.

“When President Hollande and President Aquino launched the Manila Call to Action last February, we recognized this as the start of the road to Paris, towards a better and more sustainable planet for future generations,” French Embassy Deputy Head of Mission Laurent Legodec stressed.

“Of course, climate change affects us all, regardless of race, religion, or generation. This is why the conclusion of this climate agreement should not only be in the hands of heads of state and policymakers. Everyone should do their part in raising awareness and contributing to discussions on the climate, and a large part of this lies with civil society,” he added.

Climate Week activities

Climate Week opens on October 5 with a reception at the Alliance Française de Manille, during which a photo exhibit on the environment entitled Surface Tensions: Perspectives on the Changing Landscape by artists Wawi Navarroza, Veejay Villafranca, and MM Yu will be inaugurated. When Heaven Wept, a film by Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman Briccio Santos on the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, will also be premiered at the Alliance Française de Manille cinematheque.

Conferences on COP21, climate justice, the preservation and conservation of culture and heritage, the role of media, and sustainable cities and energy transition will also be held in various universities from October 6 to 8. The public is invited to participate in these discussions by registering through [email protected].

Highlighting the role of art as an expression of their commitment for the climate and in inspiring others to take action, local artists will be given venues to exhibit or perform their craft at the Archivo 1984 Gallery and the PInapple Lab Gallery in Makati from October 6 to 10. Interested artists may send their works to [email protected].

Various French films on the environment will also be shown to the public free of charge on October 6 and 7 at the Alliance Française de Manille.

A special exhibit entitled 60 Solutions to Address Climate Change by renowned French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand will also be open for public viewing at the Senate of the Philippines from October 9 to 23, 2015. The inauguration of the exhibit will take place during the Summit of Conscience in the Philippines initiated by Sen. Loren Legarda.

The public is also invited to attend Climate Rythms, a free concert featuring artists dedicated to the protection of the environment. Organized in partnership with Dakila, the concert will take place at the Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium on October 10.

Cycling event to close Climate Week

Last June 17 on the occasion of European Climate Diplomacy Day, European diplomats based in Paris biked towards the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an expression of support for the success of COP21.

In the Philippines for Climate Week, the diplomatic corps, representatives from the government, civil society, media personalities, and environmental advocates will be invited to a symbolic cycling event called Bike to Paris on October 11 to formally close the week-long event. As a show of solidarity for the climate and for the conclusion of an agreement in December, participants will ride their bikes from Kilometer Zero to the SM Mall of Asia Globe to symbolize the road from Manila to COP21 in Paris.

“During Climate Week, we want to engage everyone, and we hope that this would let Filipinos know that there is action happening at the local and global levels to save our planet. We invite everyone to participate in our activities, and we hope that this would inspire action as well,” Mr. Legodec said.

-Embassy of France to the Philippines