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Humanitarians across the Philippines commemorate #TheHumanRace during World Humanitarian Day

Publication date

(Manila, Philippines, 19 August 2021)

On World Humanitarian Day, we remind the world that we are caught in a climate emergency; the pandemic did not slow down climate change. Time is already running out for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people – those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency but are hit the hardest. As most climate campaigns focus on slowing climate change and securing the planet’s future, this year’s World Humanitarian Day (WHD), highlights the immediate human cost of the climate crisis to compel world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November, to take meaningful climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people.

For this year’s WHD, The Philippines will organize #TheHumanRace, supporting the global challenge for climate action with physical activities hosted on Strava, tree planting and a national climate forum in solidarity with the people who need it most.

In the race against the climate crisis, we can’t leave anyone behind. According to the latest research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have less than 11 years to make the transformation necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. In addition, the Philippines is prone to both geological and hydro meteorological hazards and is ranked the second most-at-risk country in terms of potential impacts of climate change. Half of the most destructive storms on the planet since 2000 have hit the Philippines where the agricultural and fishing sectors are the most vulnerable sectors in the country.

The risk is systemic. We are facing complex scenarios such as 2020, where COVID-19 pandemic Super Typhoon Goni and Typhoon Vamco, affected millions, displaced over 300,000 people, and caused destruction on houses, livelihoods, and essential infrastructure like hospitals, water supply and schools. In Mindanao, 322,270 people were newly displaced in 2021 due to armed conflict, natural disaster, crime and violence and clan feud.

We cannot forget that climate change and disasters increase structural vulnerabilities and have a differentiated impact. People with different social and gender identities, as well as people with disabilities and children among others, must be considered actors of change.

Fighting climate change means protecting wildlife and forest and promoting a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery. This is essential to achieve the SDGs and to ensure that our cities are better prepared for future crises.

That is why, since the Philippines, the public and private sectors, academia, communities, INGOs, local NGOs and the UN system are working in partnership to win the race against climate change.

The Government has adopted a “whole-of-society” approach to climate change adaptation and national preparedness for what is expected to be the increasingly extreme impact of natural hazards. In addition, National and international partners have been conducting an inclusive consultation process to the development of the Collective Action Plan for the Roadmap for the Localization of Humanitarian Action in the Philippines.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), spearheading the region's greening program is the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) through its Integrated Bangsamoro Greening Program (IBGP), which mobilizes retired and soon-to-be combatants to serve as forest rangers and engage in farming on government-allocated lands.

On the other hand, The UN and humanitarian partners are developing new methods to better support national response efforts. As host to the world’s first Anticipatory Action pilot for cyclones at this scale, the Philippines is at the global forefront of humanitarian innovation. FAO, IOM, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and OCHA as well as their strategic partners START Network and IFRC are focussed on localised operational partnerships to enhance delivery of quality and principled interventions in protection, the prevention of gender-based violence, the strategic use of cash programming, and accountability to affected communities. This can prove at scale an important innovation for the future of humanitarian action. By providing support to people before the cyclone, Anticipatory Action will lead to early recovery of people and self-sustaining and is therefore a response that is better adapted to the COVID-19 context.

We are in a race we can't afford to lose. A race against the climate emergency. Join #TheHumanRace now

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit