SONGDO, Incheon City, South Korea — Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, co-chair of the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF), issued a call from here Thursday, urging world governments to support and cooperate in the gargantuan task of rebuilding the devastation of climate change and combat its threats.
Salceda made the call as the GCF settled down December 4 in its new headquarters in this bustling Songdo Free Economic Zone in Incheon. He said his office shall initialize the operationalization of the fund to help small countries – like the Philippines – transcend the disastrous and persistent impacts of climate.
“The impacts of climate change on developing countries, most particularly in Asia, is globally accepted as cataclysmic; Haiyan, (Yolanda) which struck Central Philippines in November 7, left 5,719 dead, 11.2 million people affected, 1.1 million homes damaged and destroyed, and 4.4 million people displaced,” Salceda said.
He recounted how, with the help of the international community, his province Albay was able to rise up from a similar cataclysm in 2006 brought about by Typhoon Durian, which decimated 40% of its Gross Domestic Product, destroyed 203,000 homes and affected 1.1 million people.Administered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the GCF has transferred from its temporary headquarters in Bonn, Germany to the modern Green Tower Building in Songdo, which is now the hub for UN offices. South Korea has won its strong bid to host the GCF.
The GCF headquarters inauguration was graced by South Korean President Park Kun Hye, who welcomed the GCF dignitaries.
The GCF, or the Fund, is tasked to promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Salceda, who is also UN spokesman for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, said the GCF shall put more pressure on the international community to operationalize the fund in 2014, finance preparedness activities for developing countries and help provide for such programs.
Salceda is GCF co-chair for developing countries and Southeast Asia.
“In Paris, the GCF Board agreed that resource mobilization should begin at least three months after the second board meeting in May also scheduled in Songdo,” Salceda said during the rites that officially opened the GCF headquarters.
Present during the event, aside from the Korean President, were GCF co-chair, Manfred Konukiewitz, for developed countries, Korean Deputy Finance Minister Oh-Seok Hyun, GCF Executive Director Hela Cheikhrouhou, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, and Incheon Metropolitan City Mayor Young Gil.
Speaking before guests at the ceremony opening the GCF headquarters, Salceda also thanked the “Korean people for their help in 2007, in rebuilding 10% of the entire housing reconstruction in Albay damaged by Durian.”
“Six years after, and two days after Haiyan hit the Vizayas, I have led Team Albay with 179 personnel and 17 vehicles and became the first humanitarian mission to arrive – during the critical hours where lives could still be saved – in Tacloban city,” Salceda told the climate advocates.
He said Team Albay was “first to provide medical services in the area, first to provide free medicines, first to retrieve cadavers, first to raise the flag in the Leyte provincial capitol, and first to open a gasoline station.”
At the devastation Ground Zero, Team Albay also produced and delivered 1.2 million liters for the survivors through its water filtration machine, retrieved 622 corpses, provided free medicines and medical services to 2,142 patients, repacked 450,000 relief goods for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and sourced 420 tons of relief goods.
Salceda said Team Albay has proven it can do more than what a 179-man team can in an emergency, but as CNN commented, they (Team Albay) do not talk but just keep on working and retrieving corpses.
He said the GCF can be likened to the Star of Bethlehem which led the Three Kings to the manger. It is like a Globe Positioning System for international events market especially with the opening of offices here by the World Bank, UN United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and North-East Asia.
As noted by world delegates to the event, the convergence here of these agencies “makes Songdo, Incheon the epicenter of global climate finance and the center for global engagements and international conversations on climate change.” (PNA feature report by Johnny C. Nunez)
Photo source: Credit from Facebook page of Gov.Salceda.