Philippines needs climate change awareness campaign | News | Eco-Business

The majority of Filipinos feel the effects of climate change personally, yet most do nothing to mitigate it. What’s worse, some of our citizens don’t know what climate change is.

“The need to discuss climate change and ways to mitigate its effects is now even more urgent,” said Ging Reyes, head of general news and current affairs at ABS-CBN, one of the country’s major media companies.

Reyes, along with Secretary Selling and other experts, shared his views at a one-day seminar titled “Building Critical Mass Awareness on Climate Change – Involving the Media, Advertising and Entertainment Sectors.”

The talk was organised by the Singapore-based Asia Pacific Socially Aware Media Alliance (also known as the Media Alliance) with support from the Asian Development Bank.

The seminar came a day after Tropical Storm Trami caused some of the worst flooding in Manila this year. Trami, the 13th tropical storm to hit the Philippines in 2013, intensified seasonal southwest monsoon rains, killing at least 17 people and affecting more than one million. The typhoon caused more than $1.7 million in damages to both infrastructure and agriculture in the Philippines.

The media has a role to play

“This is the time for change and inspiration,” Satinder Bindra, Principal Director for External Relations at the Asian Development Bank, said in opening remarks at the session.

Experts say the media and advertising industry play a key role as they can shape people’s perceptions. Similarly, other private sector actors can also contribute to mitigating climate change by influencing public consumption.

The question, according to the organizers, is: “How can they work together and raise critical public awareness for rapid national, regional and global responses to climate change?”

For Oscar M. Lopez, keynote speaker and chairman emeritus of the Lopez Group of Companies, which owns the Manila Electric Company and the Energy Development Corporation, part of the solution is carbon Emissions contribute to climate change, and addressing this requires a multi-sectoral approach.

“The Philippines emits only a tiny fraction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to developed countries,” he said. But even if the Philippines were carbon neutral, it would still be one of the countries most affected by climate change..

He added that this was due to the country’s geography – on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequent, and in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, where winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet.

Poor knowledge of climate change in the Philippines

Beyond this, Secretary Selling pointed out many other challenges facing the country’s climate change mitigation efforts. A recent survey commissioned by the World Bank found that 85 percent of respondents are affected by climate change, while around 38 percent have “little” understanding of the issue.

The remaining 12 percent said they had “extensive” knowledge, while others said they had “partial but sufficient” knowledge (35 percent), and 14 percent said they had “little understanding.”

Selling said the findings were not a surprise. Both he and Lopez cited a lack of dialogue and investigation, and a deep disconnect between national and local governments.

It’s difficult to raise public awareness when leaders themselves cannot be authorities on the issue, he explained. Even Philippine journalists need training on the issue, Reyes acknowledged.

Voltaire Toupaz, multimedia reporter for the news social media site RapplerHe said his stories needed to be “engaging” to get more views, otherwise most of the views on climate change would be about schools being cancelled due to typhoons or floods, he said.

The role of the private sector

Jones Campos, executive director of the Philippine Advertising Association, added: Businesses must be sustainable to combat climate change. Instead of “fighting fires” or being “always reactive” to natural disasters, businesses can contribute by advocating for environmental protection.

He defined sustainability as a business being economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally conscious, citing companies such as the Metro Pacific Investment Corporation, which undertakes environmental conservation activities such as mangrove planting and coastal and underwater cleanups.

“Environmental awareness and the ability to do good and do good at the same time should be ingrained in our daily work,” said Amor McClung, founding director of Geiser McClung Marketing Communications.

Climate change mitigation is not a typical campaign. It’s not about sending out press releases or creating catchy taglines, she said. Companies must realize that communication is about determining what’s best for all involved. For example, after a pro-mining movement in Palawan last year, companies were able to help ban mining in 78 ecotourism sites.

“The Philippines has $840 billion in mineral resources and we have been supporting activists like Gina Lopez and everyone from indigenous people to lawmakers to keep these in the ground because ecotourism is a better economic option for the communities than mining,” Macran said.

Accountability is one of the reasons why this campaign was successful and this must be the same for any kind of business or organisation. She said FMCG companies and real estate companies must be asked to be more accountable as they have a major influence on land and resource use that impacts the environment. Full disclosure is a must. In her words, market share means share of responsibility.

Similarly, Reyes said media outlets must provide enough information to raise awareness about climate change, which can help prevent loss of life during natural disasters. It is also important to give a face to climate change so it is easier for the public to understand, and to use citizen journalists to provide a layman’s perspective, Tupas added.

As an example, Tupaz shared a compilation of video clips filmed by residents showing how floods wreak havoc in hard-to-reach rural areas. He also shared a video report from residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental, who are working to rebuild their town, which was devastated by Typhoon Bopha late last year. “The Filipino spirit is resilient, but our infrastructure is not,” Tupaz said.

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