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Philippines’ Writeshop on Climate Change and Human Rights

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Dominicans for Justice and Peace (UNOP) organised a writeshop from October 21 to 23 at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, in Baguio City, Philippines, bringing together members of the Dominican Family, along with teachers and school administrators from Dominican schools in the country.

The primary objective of this gathering was to collaboratively develop a handbook that focuses on the critical intersection of climate change and human rights. This handbook will empower teachers in Filipino schools to effectively integrate climate change and human rights topics into their curricula. Building upon the modules created during UNOP’s 2022-2023 training sessions, this handbook aspires to be a powerful and practical tool for educators, enabling them to deliver engaging lessons that help students understand and address these pressing issues. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy for their invaluable financial support, which made this writeshop possible.

The visit of the Delegation was also a good occasion to take part in some additional activities. This included participation in a human chain protest in Manila against a land reclamation project in Manila Bay, aimed at constructing hotels, casinos, restaurants, and entertainment centres. This project has significant environmental implications for both Manila Bay and the Province of Zambales, where sand extraction is taking place, and its legality is under scrutiny.

UNOP also engaged with partners, such as Simbahayan – a community development organisation affiliated with the Dominican University UST – and Attorney Mario Maderazo, a distinguished human rights and environmental lawyer.

Another crucial visit was organised in the Province of Zambales to gain a deeper understanding of sand extraction and its impacts on the environment and local communities. Since 2019, UNOP has been supporting Zambales Ecological Network Inc., a local environmental NGO, in their efforts to protect the coasts and river beds of the Province from sand exploitation, including black sand. During this visit, Ms. Haide Fernandez, the organisation’s director, and her colleague guided the team through the Province, where they met with local women’s groups, particularly wives of fishermen, who have been steadfastly opposing these destructive operations since 2018. This visit shed light on the mismanagement of sand resources and how it significantly affects marine ecosystems, as well as the livelihoods, health, and housing of coastal communities. With this firsthand experience, UNOP is committed to continuing its advocacy at the United Nations in support of these local communities.

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