Nicolas Hulot and H.E. the French Ambassador together visited Daanbantayan on Sunday the 25th of January 2015. They were welcomed by Mayor Corro, the FP-UA delegation (composed of representatives of Lafarge, Total and the French Chamber of Commerce) as well as representatives of the NGOs Habitat for Humanity and the French and Philippine Red Cross.
They all proceeded to the first site located in barangay Agujo which houses have already been completed. There, M. Hulot was given a presentation on the projects of FP-UA. He was particularly impressed with the Hybolic Paraboloid house design used by Habitat for Humanity to build the houses. This design allows for unique houses that can withstand intensity 8 earthquakes and high velocity 275-300 kph winds. This is all the more relevant to Mr. Hulot who, as Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, is concerned about the resilience of vulnerable population to natural disasters that are unfortunately expected to be more frequent and intense due to climate change.
After touring through this first village, the delegation transferred to the second site located in barangay Paypay which overall project is overseen by the French and Philippines Red Cross and which houses are being built by Habitat for Humanity. The Red Cross explained the different components of the project with a strong emphasis on the community development phase with disaster risk reduction activities and a livelihood development initiative. M. Hulot was in fact particularly interested in hearing about the possible sustainable alternatives to current livelihood practices in the area which are harmful to the environment such as dynamite fishing.
M. Hulot was very satisfied of his visit. He said “To fight against climate change, we have to have renewable energy. But to succeed, the best energy is the energy of the heart and this is the energy you use here”.
Before heading back to Cebu, he congratulated the projects’ stakeholders for their joint effort: “By using the diversity as a strength and not as a difficulty, you do at the small scale here what we should do at the scale of the planet.”
Nicolas Hulot is the founder and president of the Fondation Nicolas-Hulot, an environmental group first created in 1990. He is well known in France for his documentary show “Ushuaïa” which focuses on nature and the environment. In his documentaries, he draws attention to environmental damage caused by humans and changes that need to be made to protect the planet. His popularity has provided him with some influence in the French political debate. In 2007, he forced five of the major candidates to the French presidential election (including Nicolas Sarkozy) to sign an agreement which stated that the environmental crisis would have to become a high governmental priority.