One Decade Since Typhoon Yolanda: Climate Justice means no Community Left Behind

November 9, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

Today, we mark the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded. On November 8, 2013, Yolanda made landfall in the Philippines, bringing with it devastating winds and storm surges. The typhoon caused widespread destruction, killing more than 6,300 people and displacing millions more.

Climate change is making typhoons more intense and more frequent. And it is putting our communities at even greater risk. What adds further weight to this burden is the disproportionate contribution of richer nations to climate change. Imperialist countries committing environmental plunder of many of the countries in the global south, and their historical and ongoing record breaking carbon emissions, have significantly accelerated global warming, which intensifies extreme weather events worldwide. However, it’s the countries like the Philippines, situated in climate-vulnerable zones, that suffer the most severe consequences despite contributing the least to the factors causing climate change.

Yolanda was a tragedy that tested our resilience as a people. But even in the darkest of times, the Filipino spirit shone through. We came together as a community to help each other and rebuild our lives.

On this 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, let us further commit  ourselves to building a more resilient and sustainable Philippines. Further, being hand-in-hand in seeking justice and accountability from these historical polluters, let us work together at the grassroots through empowering our farmers by advocating agroecology. 

While indeed agriculture and climate crises are impacting each other to an extraordinary extent. The truth is that the dominant capital and intensive agriculture being maintained by transnational corporations like Syngenta and Monsanto backed by wealthy individuals and philanthro-capitalists like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and imperialist countries, are one of the major emitters of greenhouse gasses and is in this regard one of the major contributors to climate change. The wide introduction of corporate owned GMO and hybrid crops more than 20 years ago up until today led to intensified utilization of pesticide, herbicide, and other chemical inputs. While agrochemical corporations enjoy record breaking profits, scientists have been warning the world that the ongoing chemical pollution majorly driven by chemical and capital intensive agriculture has exceeded the safe limits for humanity, further accelerated the climate crisis and is now a grave threat to the stability of global ecosystems.

Yet, agriculture outside of the corporate mantra is appropriate to absorb and store climate-wrecking gasses and hence, it can take an active part in limiting global warming. Huge potential can be seen for reducing the emittance of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide but only if we transform it into a farmer-led agriculture by adapting farmer-led agroecology practices anchored in food sovereignty. 

For instance, farmer-led agroecology treats natural resources, the climate, and people in a more diligent and just way. Farmer-led agroecology has the potential to provide more resilient food production through its passive strengthening and development of sustainable agro-ecosystems through crop diversification. 

Farmer-led agroecology stands as a beacon of hope within this context. By empowering local farmers and communities with sustainable agricultural practices and upholding the farmers’ right to land, it offers a means for these vulnerable regions to adapt, build resilience, and reduce their carbon footprint. Moreover, promoting farmer-led agroecology aligns with the principles of climate justice by supporting local, especially farmers’ autonomy, enhancing biodiversity, and lessening the reliance on damaging industrial agriculture practices that have historically perpetuated environmental degradation.

Farmer-led agroecology as the pathway to freedom from grinding poverty, hunger, climate crises and towards climate justice  is not only anchored in scientific basis but also honed in years of movement and solidarity building amongst people and community, not corporate greed. It is through farmer-led agroecology, which transforms us to be more resilient and self-reliant further articulate that climate justice means no community is left behind.

In remembrance of the lives lost and the communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda, let us pledge to work together in solidarity, supporting climate justice and sustainable practices, aiming to build a future where no country or community is left to bear the disproportionate burdens of a crisis they did not primarily create.