Filipino climate activists sought the help of the Vatican delegation in COP26 to lobby for the inclusion of “loss and damage” mechanism in the climate summit agenda next year.
On November 10, the activists met with the Church officials to discuss the situation of poor communities in the Philippines and the need for funding that could help victims of the climate crisis.
Youth climate activist and super typhoon “Haiyan” survivor Marinel Ublado said poor communities “go back to zero whenever disaster hits because they are not capacitated.”
“Imagine how hard it is for these communities to get back on their feet, especially that at least 20 typhoons visit the Philippines per year,” she said.
“We cannot go on with this cycle. We cannot go on losing loved ones, losing our families, livelihood, and houses… Without support from the international community, the future of these vulnerable communities remains uncertain,” she said.
In the second week of the climate summit in Glasgow, countries from the Global South demanded to work out the details of a “loss and damage” mechanism.
The vulnerable developing countries reiterated their demand for funding to help the victims of loss and damage.
Father Joshtrom Kureethadam, coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said the narrative of the vulnerable communities “reminds us of the human face of the climate crisis.”
“We are reminded that we are here to represent the Church and that we are part of the people. We are reminded of our duty to become the voice of the voiceless,” he said.
The priest reiterated the call of the Church for nations to declare a climate emergency “in the context of justice for those communities that are most vulnerable.”
Paolo Conversi, an official of the Vatican City Secretariat of State, said the Holy See “is trying to push the issue of loss and damage” at the climate conference, adding that “it is very important to strengthen the discussion” on the matter for next year’s conference.
In a separate statement issued on November 11, the Holy See said the “issue of loss and damage is particularly critical to those communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.”
“Pope Francis has clearly emphasized the ecological debt and the solidarity that industrialized countries owe to the poor,” the statement read.
The Holy See Delegation said it hopes that the “final decisions of this Conference may be inspired by a genuine sense of responsibility towards present and future generations, as well as the care of our common home.”
Bishop Claudio Gugerotti, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, reminded the Filipino activists during the meeting that the role of the Holy See in the climate summit is just an Observer State.
The prelate said there are a lot of things that the Church cannot do in the summit “because we have no right or voice. We are here as a State, which is an observer.”
“So, what we do is not official. It is something that we are doing in the corridors. But we support, we speak, and we suggest,” he said.
Bishop Gugerotti said the work of the Catholic Church to advance the climate justice movement happens “generally before and after” the climate summit.
“Remember that it is what you do in your own areas that is conveyed by the Holy See, not particularly here but in the work of serving this particular subject,” he said.
“There is the message of the Pope, of course. And there is your experience, which has to be shared but don’t get disappointed if you see that we are not getting something,” he said.
The prelate said the work of the Holy See “depends very much” on the narrative and the voice of the vulnerable communities.