Last weekend was intense, on Friday evening news outlets carried stories about the impending arrival of a super typhoon.

Super Typhoon Goni, the strongest storm recorded this year, slammed into the southern part of Luzon in the Philippines on November 1st. Its peak winds reached up to 195 miles per hour when it first made landfall in Catanduanes Island, home to over 260,000 people and later on wreaking havoc through the Bicol Region, killing at least 20 people and causing volcanic mudflows burying houses.

Thankfully by the time it reached Manila, the capital city I live in was spared with no major damage. In hindsight I can say that I am safe, but I’m not okay. The rollercoaster of emotions that we all experienced whenever there’s word of a coming typhoon has become somewhat normal.

An anxious normal that is made worse by the pandemic – there is a clear realization that the current system is not built to withstand a cascade of crises from COVID-19, to climate change and the political, economic and social disruptions that they bring.

What can withstand these crises, though, are the courageous acts of solidarity in the service of shared humanity, guided by our natural instinct for cooperation.

This is known as mutual aid, the collective coordination to meet each other’s needs, usually stemming from an awareness that the systems we have in place are not going to meet them. Those systems, in fact, have often created crises, or are making things worse.

We see examples of these rise during on the onset of the pandemic lockdown in the Philippines: people organized donation drives of basic provisions even before the government was able to do so, when healthcare workers ran out of means to get to work, people lent them bikes or donated funds for the purchase of bikes. When hospitals ran out of equipment, families donated masks, gloves, and alcohol, began manufacturing them, or organized supplies and supply chains.

Mutual aid directly meets people’s survival needs, and is based on a shared understanding that the conditions in which we are made to live are unjust.

This is in one of those moments again where we are challenged to rise and pitch in to meet the communities’ needs, in this case those who have been adversely affected by Goni’s onslaught.

Many parts of the Philippines are still in ruins — many people have been living without electricity and are still low on supplies. To make matters worse, another typhoon is expected to hit the country today. Material support to address these needs would make a lot of difference to those who have been affected.

The science is clear: climate change supercharges typhoons like Goni.

So beyond responding to the much needed relief work, mutual aid also involves strategically ensuring that the investment frameworks of public finance institutions like multilateral development banks, export credit agencies and others are consistent with building just and resilient societies. This starts by moving money away from fossil fuels.

The choices we make today will shape our society, economy, health, and climate for decades to come. It’s time we ensure that governments and financial institutions should be working to not only enable us to survive but more importantly to thrive amidst these crises we are facing.

FacebookTwitter