Gaea Cabico

Published: July 11, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has been chosen to host the board overseeing the Loss and Damage Fund (LDF), aimed at helping vulnerable countries cope with the costly and damaging consequences of the climate crisis.

The 26-member LDF Board selected the Philippines as the host during its second meeting in Songdo, South Korea on July 9, Tuesday. It beat out seven other countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Eswatini, Togo, and Kenya. 

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that hosting the LDF Board reinforces the country’s “dedication to inclusivity and our leadership role in ensuring that the voices of those most affected by climate change shape the future of international climate policies.”

The fund, which was formally established during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai last year, is mandated to assist developing countries especially vulnerable to climate change. This includes providing financial aid to respond to both economic and non-economic loss and damage caused by extreme weather and slow onset events. 

“The Loss and Damage Fund is a long-fought struggle to directly assist those who bear the greatest impact of climate-induced losses and damage to recover and build. We take on this responsibility in solidarity with all countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” said Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, secretary of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change’s devastating impacts, including strong typhoons and rising sea levels, which disproportionately affect marginalized communities. 

What does it mean for the Philippines?

The country’s Department of Finance (DOF) said the Philippines, as the host of the LDF Board, will lead efforts to secure financial support from developed countries and development partners to address climate related-loss and damage. 

The role will also facilitate global collaboration with the Philippines on climate challenges and highlight the country’s “transformative and science-based” strategies for adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk management.

“Hosting the LDF Board will unlock more opportunities for the Philippines to accelerate its access to climate finance and investments, which are critical for future-proofing our economy and ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth for all Filipinos,” Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said. 

In December 2023, the Philippines secured a seat on the inaugural LDF Board, which supervises and governs the fund. 

The country will represent the Asia-Pacific region on board as a full member in 2024 and 2026 and will serve as an alternate member in 2025, sharing the term with Pakistan for that year. 

The Philippines has actively pursued hosting the LDF Board, with Yulo-Loyzaga previously asserting the nation as the top candidate for the role. 

The DOF also said that Marcos established a technical working group last March to strategically prepare the country’s bid.

Former Finance undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven represents the Philippines on the board, with Leila Lora-Santos of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York serving as a board adviser. 

“We do not take this matter lightly and we commit to fully comply with the undertaking and promises made in the bid of the Philippines,” Joven said during the meeting. 

Strong voice

Climate advocates lauded the selection of the Philippines as the host of the LDF Board, with Senator Loren Legarda saying it has given the country “a great honor to support this important body of work which had taken several decades to build.”

The Philippines has been one of the strongest voices calling for an international mechanism on loss and damage, and the establishment of such a fund. 

The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) urged the Philippines to demonstrate leadership by demanding developed nations to fulfill their historical, legal, and moral obligation to provide reparations for climate devastation. 

“The Philippines should join the rest of the Global South in demanding trillions, not millions, in climate finance from the developed countries who’ve pushed us to the brink of climate chaos,” APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil said. 

The fund has received only $661.39 million in pledges from developed countries, falling far short of the $100 billion per year that developing nations—historically the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions—say is necessary to cover losses from climate disasters.

Fund’s independence

While the Philippines will host the LDF Board, the World Bank will act as the interim host of the fund for four years.

Groups raised concerns about the international financial institution’s role in managing the fund, fearing it would give donors like the United States undue influence.

“The Philippines must stand firm for a Loss and Damage Fund that is democratic and independent of the World Bank. As interim host, the World Bank should not compromise the integrity of the Fund’s operations and decision-making,” Nacpil said. 

During the meeting, Grace Balawag of the ​​Tebtebba-Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, stressed the need for accountability and transparency, including public disclosure and participation of observers, to ensure the fund’s independence.

She also called on the board to prioritize the setting up of a dedicated community access window that “will realize simplification of direct access to small grants funding for affected communities, indigenous peoples, and those facing marginalization.”