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France says open to work with PH on food security, climate change

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MANILA — France is ready to work with the Philippines on a wide range issues including food security and climate change, a French government official said Tuesday.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, met with several Philippine Cabinet officials to explore various areas of cooperation.

Zacharopoulou noted the existing defense cooperations between the Philippines and France, including the recent port visit of the French Navy destroyer Lorraine last June. France is also among the countries closely following developments in the South China Sea.

But while the two countries have “many things to do” on defense cooperations, Zacharopoulou said they could also work together on food security and energy security.

“Another field of cooperation, it is the question of sustainable development in the area of transport and the sustainable cities for example. And the third field, where we can see that we have the opportunities to work together, are the global issues. As I underlined before, the fight against climate change, the protection of the biodiversity and health,” said Zacharopoulou, who visited Manila from July 30 to Aug. 1.

She also noted France’s expertise on agriculture and its strong interest in food security as it allotted 200,000 euros (P12 million) to finance school meals in the Philippines through the World Food Programme.

She discussed sustainable development with Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, highlighting the interest of French companies engaged in green, low carbon, and renewable energy to invest in the Philippines. 

Zacharopoulou also attended the launch of the Plastic Flamingo, a French social enterprise in Muntinlupa City, with Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga.

The Plastic Flamingo founders Francois and Charlotte Lesage said they hoped their plastic waste management and upcycling facility would help solve the plastic pollution problem in the Philippines, which is among the world’s most ocean-polluting countries.

Zacharopoulou also met with Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and Health Secretary Ted Herbosa.

Her visit to the Philippines is the first by a French minister since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before heading to the Philippines, she visited Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In 2018, Macron proposed the Indo Pacific Strategy which was adopted by the European Union. According to Zacharopolou, the Indo-Pacific region is important to the EU and specifically France, which has territories in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Both regions also see shared struggles and common values.

France and the Philippines recently marked 75 years of diplomatic ties. 

There are 3,000 French citizens in the Philippines and 27,000 Filipinos in France.

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