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A NEW "Compact with the Earth"
Jose de Venecia
Speech of Former Philippine Speaker, Jr. Founding Chairman and Co-Chairman, Standing Committee, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP)
The 2013 ICAPP Special Conference
Theme: "Promote Green Development and Build a Beautiful Asia Together"
Xi'an,China,May 30, 2013

On behalf of the Standing Committee of ICAPP—the International Conference of Asian Political Parties—
Welcome to this Special Conference to "Promote Green Development and Build a Beautiful Asia Together," being sponsored in this capital city of Shaanxi Province by the Communist Party of China.
Not only has Xi'an had a leading part in the pageant of China's history for well over 2,000 years.
Xi'an is especially memorable to the Chinese people–as China's ancient capital and symbol of their indomitable spirit.
That the CPC has chosen Xi'an as the setting for this Conference on enhancing our home continent's eco-system reflects the importance CPC and ICAPP give our deliberations here.

Let me also note that our home-planet, Earth, has just passed an ominous ecological milestone:
In middle May, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest concentration since the Pliocene epoch.
On the geologic timescale, the Pliocene runs back 5.3 million years ago-when there jungles in what is now North Canada.
We may expect ocean levels to rise and extreme weather to become routine.
We're also coming to realize the warming of the earth and the rising of the seas are the work, not of an uncaring Providence, but of ourselves-in all our arrogance and heedlessness.
And yet man had not been licensed to inflict all that he wills on the rest of Creation.
To the contrary, as Genesis tells the biblical story:
"Ten Lord God took the man he had created from the dust of the ground and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."
It is long past the time we must return to the doctrine of humankind as steward of the Earth.
Yes, our planet Earth and humankind are now victims of climate change or environmental degradation.

We in ICAPP owe the Communist Party of China a debt of gratitude for responding to our request, to Vice-Minister Ai Ping to hold this important meeting.
One of our basic aims is precisely to encourage Asian governments and political parties to govern green—to ensure the interests of the environment are represented in public policy decisions in every Asian state.
ICAPP works cooperatively with the United Nations system and the international community on the issues of climate change.
Last June 2012, we joined forces with IESCO—the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization—and co-opted IESCO's Director General Jiang Mingjun as Chairman of ICAPP's Climate Change Committee.
IESCO's mission is to help political decision-makers translate people's needs, wants and hopes about climate change and protection of the environment into effective public policy.
As one of our first projects, IESCO will set up a 'Climate Change Institute' in Beijing.
IESCO and its representative offices in New York City, Geneva, and Vienna will work cooperatively with the UN system and the international community on the issues of climate change.

Our effort on behalf of the global ecosystem will also benefit from the unification of political parties in the developing world that ICAPP and COPPPAL, our Latin-American and Caribbean counterpart, are arranging.
Last April 27, The council of African Political Parties—meeting in Sudan—approved the tri-continental alliance of political parties we had proposed to them.
The Alliance will enable the parties of Asia, Lain America and the Caribbean, and Africa to unify their positions on crucial global negotiations—such as the trade disputes in the WTO; and, generally, to speak with one voice in global forums, and perhaps zero in on climate change.
ICAPP's member-parties, meeting in Hanoi last April 24-26, 2013 and with our civil society affiliate under the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI), that met only last week in Makassar, Indonesia have also approved our historic plan to initiate an ecological alliance of global political parties and civil society organizations. ICAPP, COPPPAL, CAPDI, and IESCO, and almost certainly the African parties are to become founding members of this proposed Global Parties Ecological Safety Alliance, which will be organized and launched soonest in New York.

We certainly will need all the solidarity and sense of purpose we can raise—since global warming is the most potentially catastrophic of the dangers threatening humankind.
Since the late nineteenth century, there has been a marked rise in the average temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans, because of the increasing concentration of 'greenhouse' gases that trap the sun's warmth.
Already we're experiencing more frequent occurrences of extreme weather: heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall; deadly tornadoes and snowstorms caused by shifting temperatures regimes.
Already rising water temperatures have disturbed the food chain in the Pacific—causing the dramatic decline of creatures crucial to the survival of species.
On land, too, climate change threatens China's giant pandas, Borneo's orangutan, the sleek Bengal tiger; and the last of Africa's mountain gorillas. Also at risk are the Yangtze River dolphin, the giant Mekong catfish, the polar bear, and Southeast Asia's tiny tarsier.

What in the world is humankind to do?
The global community's first order of business is obviously to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The international community has agreed to complete a binding agreement for greenhouse gases for all countries—by 2015.
But, so far, our need for a binding agreement has been frustrated by self-pleading on the part of some of the powers.
The common fear is that environmental strictures will slow down economic growth.
The management teacher, Peter Drucker, advocates that, to mitigate the pollution of the atmosphere, global civil society needs to summon a degree of moral anger—and undertake a concerted effort on the scale and intensity of the civic campaigns that—through history—have abolished slavery; outlawed piracy on the high seas; established the International Red Cross; and (more recently) banished smoking.

To the protection of the environment, we must make a serious, long-term commitment.
And both governments and civil society—both compulsion and voluntarism—will have a role to play.
For the threat to our ecosystem is real.
The threat to our ecosystem is clear.
And the threat to our ecosystem is now. Today, not tomorrow, or the day after.
But we can face up to the challenge with optimism—if we accept as a moral obligation the work of restoring the earth to health.

We must learn, first of all, to stop despoiling the Earth. We must learn instead to maintain it lovingly.
We must protect the soil, the surrounding waters, and the atmosphere.
What can political parties—what can governments—what can civil society—do?
Party initiative—government leadership—can do a great deal.
Consider how much regulation has done to relieve Western Europe of smog and acid rain—and how the U.S. Endangered Species Act may have saved 192 species from extinction, between 1973 and 1991 alone; the same smog and acid rain, now facing China and a number of countries.

ICAPP can certainly assume the task of collecting the best national practices in green development—and propagating them among its member parties.
One such model is the greening—and beautification—of China since 1949, which evokes the admiration—and envy—of all the emerging states.
What is more, government's greatest engagement on the environment's behalf is taking place in this country—where a whole nation is trying to stop desertification in Northwest China.

But China and we in Asia must do more, much, much more. We must fight the scourge of climate change with the moral equivalent of war. The smog in Beijing and Northern China is a threat to the well-being of the Chinese people.
The new dynamic and visionary Chinese leader Xi Jinping has drawn the "Red line," the line in the sand, to declare in effect war against climate change, to bring about and sustain what China calls "ecological civilization."
Yes, we in Asia and the world must fight environmental degradation with the moral equivalent of war.

Since deforestation—no less than the burning of fossil fuels—is a root cause of global warming, we should also begin to bind Nature's wounds from generations of wanton logging.
Reforestation and tree farming—on the scale and intensity the planet needs—can become and must become an economic stimulus for all states, in crisis or not, that the World Bank, the IMF, and regional banks should champion.
Yes, we ask that economic stimulus programs in Asia, the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Australian continent should include financial provisions for fighting climate change and planting tens of billions of trees worldwide, and not just providing tens of billions of dollars to save the banks in the U.S., Europe, and Asia from their mountains of bad loans that threaten their bankruptcy.
We in ICAPP, COPPPAL, CAPP, CAPDI and IESCO must mobilize massive tree planting to reforest our bald denuded mountains, to plant tens of billions of trees because trees will solve our drinking water problem, our industrial water and large-scale irrigation water needs, and solve our serious flood-control problem.

What is more, the massive worldwide planting of trees will employ tens of millions of our young men and young women who will plant the trees, take care of the trees, harvest the trees, process the trees into plywood and timber for mass housing, etc., replanting of the trees all over again in a continuing cycle, as they do with the evergreen tree plantations of New Zealand, Canada, Finland and the Scandinavian countries with great commercial profits.
The Scandinavians have been farming trees for decades, as a sector of the pulp and paper industry. My country—whose forest cover was devastated by export logging in the 1950s—has ironically become one of the tree-farming pioneers, whose still little experience other developing countries could look to.

We at ICAPP in Manila and the "Billion Trees Movement," which has not been formally launched yet, propose at least a hundred thousand hectares of tree farms in our main southern island of Mindanao. An investment of US $100-million could have revenues of $400-million in a 10-year growing cycle. More important, the trees will rejuvenate the soil, sequester some 38 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, and prevent destructive floods that devastate cities, towns, villages, farms, livestock, the hard-earned economic gains and human life.
Yes, massive commercial tree planting can be a most profitable enterprise. It should be one of the principal objectives of economic or financial stimulus launched by governments: to help save the economy and help save our planet and humankind.
Equally important, our historic initiative here in Xi'an could help beautify the countries of Asia. "For poems are made by fools like me but only God can make a tree!"

Lastly— protection of the environment is unavoidably susceptible to the problem of the 'free rider'—the participant who takes advantage of the public good the agreement will produce, while avoiding his personal share of the collective cost.
The 'free rider' problem can be minimized by local agreements limited among the powers most intimately concerned—such as that between Italy, France, and Spain, which cleaned up the Mediterranean Ocean in the 1990s.
The growth of economic regions in every continent should be good for controlling pollution and resuscitating the global ecosystem—as local experience and local necessity compel component states to yield some of their sovereign powers to an overarching authority of their own creation.
Ultimately, humankind must work toward a new "Compact with the Earth" that will secure man's terrestrial base of life and enable him to ascend to a new level of civilization.

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