AFTER President Aquino’s historic official visit to France as part of his European tour in September, French President François Hollande is expected to reciprocate it with a visit to the Philippines next year. Mr. Aquino’s visit to France from on September 17 and 18 was the first visit of a Philippine head of state since 1994.
Both heads of state discussed issues of mutual interest and witnessed the signing of three agreements in the fields of trade, education and culture.
Central to their dialogue was on the subject of the environment and climate change. Hollande, in a news statement, underscored the consequences of global warming, citing the experience of the Philippines following the passage of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) in November 2013, and emphasized the need for both countries to collaborate in addressing it.
Hollande said he and President Aquino agreed that “in the context of the preparation of the Climate Conference [21st Conference of Parties (COP 21)], France and the Philippines should work together, and on the occasion of my visit to your country, a visit that we could organize next year, we could illustrate what this conference on climate should be.” Hollande would not only be the first French head of state, but also the first European head of state, to make an official visit to the Philippines.
“The exchanges between our two countries have been at its highest point since 2012, and we’d like to continue this for the coming years.
We are truly looking forward to this visit so that Hollande could see firsthand the economic, political and cultural opportunities here in the Philippines,” French Ambassador Gilles Garachon said in a news release. As the host of COP 21 in December 2015, France has placed climate change among its foreign-policy priorities.
“With the upcoming visit of President Hollande, we hope to be able to open new areas for cooperation, as well as to strengthen our existing partnership in various sectors, and among them is the environment,” the French envoy said.
The Embassy of France to the Philippines is committed to work together with the Philippines to address climate change through a series of projects to be carried out until December 2015.
The first of which is a roundtable organized by the Asia Centre, in partnership with the French Regional Delegation for Cooperation with Asean, and supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines and the embassies of the United Kingdom and of Germany, the news release said.
Taking place in Manila on November 17, with the theme “Asean, Europe and the Philippines: Facing Up to the Challenges of Climate Change,” the roundtable will gather Asean officials, European representatives, political experts, scientists and diplomats to exchange European and Asian perspectives and positions on the issue of climate change. Complementing the discussion is a film screening of various films on the subject of climate change, to be followed by an open discussion on November 18 at the Alliance Française de Manille, the news release said. Among the short films to be screened are Témoin du climat by the Good Planet Foundation and Sally Jo Bellosillo’s Haiyan: The Aftermath.