I attended a forum organized by the Climate Change Commission last July 17 entitled Survey on Climate Change Awareness in the Philippines, at Discovery Suites in Ortigas. I havent ever been to an Ortigas place before so I was excited to attend the event. I was also keen to know more about the Social Weather Stations findings regarding climate change awareness among Filipinos and how they respond to climate change impacts
Ms. Linda Luz Guerrero, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of SWS, presented the survey outcome. The study was commissioned by The World Bank Group. She explained the questions used in the survey and how it measured the knowledge of respondents about climate change and its impacts. She then presented the findings of the study. According to Guerrero, majority of the respondents (66%) are familiar with the concept of climate change while (34%) have become aware of the issue only when the survey was given.
Other results were quite
interesting. Around a quarter of the respondents said that planting trees is the best act to take to prepare for or soften the effects of climate change according to Guerrero. In an open-ended question in the survey that asked what effect does climate change bring about, half of those surveyed pointed to an increased incidence of illnesses as a climate change impact. Another finding presented, which I found disturbing, is the participation of respondents in efforts to reduce risks
posed by climate change. Despite high awareness on their part, only 37% participated in at least one climate change-related effort and the other 63% did not carry out any effort to respond to climate change impacts.
What does this survey tell us? Two things: first, climate change is a reality and majority of Filipinos are aware of the countrys vulnerability to its effects. Second, despite the high awareness, very few people exert effort to reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Clearly, the role of national and local governments, civil society organizations, the academe and businesses is critical to generating a far greater number of responses to climate change. Ultimately, it’s not just going to be about raising awareness. It will also be about encouraging everyone, including the most vulnerable sectors of our society, to help the
country not only mitigate but also adapt to climate change
At the end of the day, as Sec. Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Commission said in her closing remarks during the Ortigas event, numbers could tell different stories. Some of them could be disappointing and some might show positive signs for the country. What is important is that we are able, together, government and non-government groups and individuals, to strengthen institutional responses to climate change. Vulnerable sectors need to play a more active role as well not just in community-based impacts but in the national climate change response discussions, too. The country needs to stand on its own. Vulnerable communities need to stand on their own.
The survey numbers can still change. Its just a matter of time.
By: Gelo Vanguardia
Gelo heads the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative of iCSC. Part of his work is analyzing adaptation funding data from various international sources. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org