A Decade of Environmental Activism: From 2005 to 2012
A decade ago I was one of the many who got inspired from Al Gore’s seminal presentation and movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. The learnings I got from this would in many ways shape my worldview and deepened my understanding of climate change, public policy, environment governance, advocacy and management. The talk would disrupt me and then a couple of months later I would find myself organizing a local-based environmental network and advocacy group that would in a couple of weeks mobilize diverse environmental initiatives and actions in Ilocos from:tree surgery to tree management (https://frjessie.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/denr-ngo-want-poll-bets-cited-for-using-25000-trees/); to advancing and participating in the review and consultation of renewable energy development proposals and CSR projects (http://bayan-natin.blogspot.com/2007/07/live-earth-at-seas-first-wind-farm-in.html); auditing waste management initiatives and programs; opposing large-scale mining proposals (https://leadmovement.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/save-the-remaining-primary-forests-in-ilocos-norte/) and participating in the review of and implementation of Memorandum of agreements aimed to mitigate the environment impacts of existing quarrying projects among others.
Our group would collaborate and partner with environment government agencies, the church, local government agencies, local environmentalists and NGOs in drafting and advocating the passage of a comprehensive environment code known as the Ilocos Norte Environment Code of 2006 and yes to ensure that trade and investment integrates environmental audits and compliance on small and large-scale invesments in the province through the Ilocos Norte Investment Code of 2007. These codes are scheduled for review and I expect that the provincial government will hold a series of public hearings to address the gaps in policy content and implementation. This year I anticipate the passage of a Water Code for the next ten years.
Also, the group which we organize known as the Green Ilocos Norte Network and Advocacy a not for profit NGO would represent “nature” as a member of a dozen of environmental committees at the national, regional, local and barangay levels.
The group, engaged as it should, would organize the first and succeeding Earth Hour, Earth Day, World Environment Day global celebrations in Ilocos Norte in partnership with like-minded groups and individuals.
The group would later receive an invitation to share and speak on many environment conferences and public hearings and would get scholarships on Community Based Renewable Energy Development funded by the Department of Energy and the United Nations Environmental Programme.
Later I would receive an invitation and appointment from a former Governor as Executive Assistant for the Environment and received an environmental leadership award from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Ilocos Norte.
Many of these initiatives were institutionalized via the passage of ordinances, issuance of executive orders, adopted by schools and agency partners.
For more I am sharing some video links, photos and news articles of my advocacies as President of the Green Ilocos Norte Network and Advocacy environment:
Deepening Actions, City Resilience and Social Movements: From 2013 to 2016
After my stint at the local government level, I went back to the academe to pursue my interest in futures thinking to explore emerging and alternative futures of cities, organizational resilience and sustainable development.
From 2013 to the present, blending my environment and public administration background with strategic foresight, I saw the facilitation of foresight course as an opportunity to continue my worldviews at the local and global levels and I partnered with the UNESCO Foresight and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines to question business as usual and explore alternative and preferred futures of Philippine cities . These links and articles documented some of my initiatives in the area of futures studies, strategic foresight, climate change and city resilience:
2016 and beyond: Climate Reality and Renewable Energy Development
Just recently, I have been involved in the review and analysis of current and emerging renewable energy development projects in the province of Ilocos Norte as a specialist and as a concerned citizen.
Just recently we organized a group to look into some RED projects and questioned emerging gaps of RED projects. I collaborated with the iconic environmental activist Father Robert Reyes and the National Coalition to Save the Trees to opposing the cutting of 1,300 trees for the installation of RED projects in Currimao.
For more you may want to check on these links –
https://blauearth.com/2015/03/13/nwu-holds-governance-forum-on-tree-cutting-with-father-robert-reyes/; http://www.nordis.net/2015/06/groups-hit-ilocos-lgu-for-tree-cut-permit/; https://hronlineph.com/2015/06/05/statement-national-coalition-to-save-the-trees-collective-statement-on-world-environment-day/);
And the effort to oppose the rationalization of black sand mining in Ilocos Norte
Climate Reality Philippines
Just recently it was amazing to be chosen as one of the recipients of Climate Reality Leadership Training project. I enjoyed the awesome presentation of Al Gore and discussions held to explore and critic the future of climate reality, renewable energy development and environmental movements in the Philippines.
An extract from the article of Mitch Esmino of the Ilocos Times om these event would best illustrate the experience I had from the training.
“The Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change impacts. With at least 7,100 islands and an estimated 36,298 kilometers of coastline; more than 60 percent of the Filipino population are found within the coastal zone. Thus more than a majority are acutely impacted by climate change. Dangers include food and fresh water scarcity, damage to infrastructure and the devastating sea-level rise.
With this in mind, the Philippines has now become one of the most serious movers in the world in terms of combating climate change. Acknowledging this, former United States Vice President Albert Arnold “Al” Gore Jr. and The Climate Reality Project hosted the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Manila.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is a global network of activists committed to taking on the climate crisis and working to solve the greatest challenge of our time. The decade-long program has worked with thousands of individuals, providing training in climate science, communications, and organizing to tell the story of climate change and inspire leaders to be agents of change in their local communities.
The training produced 700 new “Climate Reality Leaders”. Of this number, Shermon O. Cruz, director and founder of the Center for Engaged Foresight and a The Ilocos Times columnist is included.
Learning from climate change scientists, organizers and spokespersons led by Mr. Gore himself, Mr. Cruz said he originally applied for Climate Reality India in 2015; and though he was selected he was unable to attend. But for this year’s Climate Reality Philippines, he said he made sure to attend.
From his training he explained that Climate Reality aims to mainstream climate science in policy and governance discourse. The group collaborates with multiple sectors to increase awareness and action. He said this is very timely for the Philippines as Filipinos appears to have a low risk perception and awareness of climate change. As such most of us also are unaware of its impacts to lives, communities and future generations. The low awareness of the majority however is contrary to the position the Philippine government has taken on the global stage. He learned from the training that the Philippines has been on the frontlines on climate change issues.
The climate change training afforded Mr. Cruz the opportunity to learn from leading global climate change persons. Mr. Gore was accompanied by several Nobel Prize winners, and top global climate scientists. Those people, he related trained and equipped the new Climate Reality Leaders with the latest information and data on the climate crisis; possible solutions; means of communicating climate change; on the digital tools for social action and organizing for change. The Climate Reality Leaders also explored new sustainable events strategy. This included the how’s to reduce overall energy and water consumption, waste reduction and diversion and engagements.
Climate change impact on PH
AS for the predicted climate change impact on the country, Mr. Cruz said the projections were dire. Projections indicate that sea levels in the country might rise at a rate of 7.6 to 10.2 cm per decade. This event is expected to impact roughly 2.3 million Filipinos.
By 2050, summer months in the country may become more arid; and rainfall is predicted to increase during southwest monsoon season. Day temperatures are seen to stay at 35 degrees Celsius. Extreme weather events and heavier rainfall were also projected to become more frequent.
With these projections, Mr. Cruz the extreme weather events could displace more people. The extreme weather events could also result in greater public health risks, reduced water flow, lower food production and greater hunger risks.
Mr. Cruz added that those in the lower income groups would end up being the most vulnerable.
With the total projected displacements due to climate change incidents pegged at 13.6 million Filipinos, Mr. Cruz said all concerned officials should sit together and come up with plans to both prevent and mitigate the climate change impacts.
He stressed that as an Ilocano and a resident of Ilocos Norte, he will start his climate change information drive in the province. He said he will try to sit down with concerned officials to help them to find ways in either preventing or mitigating the said impacts. He added that they should also come up with a specific map detailing the areas that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. (Source: http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2016/04/climate-change-daunting-reality.html)
And my reflections on local impacts of climate change:
GIVEN THAT climate change is happening now many nation-states, communities, networks and corporations are rushing or perhaps for a lack of a better word swarming to innovate with the hope that this generation could alter many of the world’s climate scientists worst case predictions and secure a better future for this generation and the next.
he enormity and scale of multiple climate change impacts could match any futurists’ version or any artists’ portrayal of a dark, dismal, ridiculous and dystopic alternative future world. An extreme cold snap and blizzard all over South East Asia, 60C or perhaps a sudden drop in temperatures at 10C over the city of Laoag and a recurring weekend typhoons in Ilocos Norte, local pandemics and more in the future could hit world news headlines. Recent records show that global temperature anomalies had been more frequent in the last five years.
February just smashed a century of global temperature records by a staggering margin as our planet suddenly became warmer by 1.35C according to a data NASA released. The world’s leading climate scientists would label this new record as “shocker” and warns of a “climate emergency” reported the Guardian. “We are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2C warming over pre-industrial levels” said climate scientists Masters and Henson. The Climate Summit in Paris two months ago confirmed 2C as the danger limit for global warming which should not be breached.
Last year, the heat index in the city of Bandar Mahshar in Iran were literally off the charts. Factoring in humidity, the astronomical heat index was 165 degrees or a whooping double whammy of an oppressive 74C (imagine that!). This outlier resulted to droughts, chronic water and electricity cuts and spike in energy and food cost and travel restrictions.
Just try to imagine if this happens in Laoag and Ilocos Norte.
Extreme El Niño and droughts according to the latest UN Climate Research could last from 12 to 18 months. Prolonged dry periods may significantly and negatively impact agriculture, water and food supply. It could exacerbate incidence of urban fires and may create huge forest fires as well. Also, the link between El Niño and disease is so apparent that the cycle of epidemic types of diseases occurs in parallel with extreme weather patterns. The 2016 World Health Organizations research on climate change and diseases concluded that extreme drought could turn rivers into strings of pools and breeding sites for different, emerging and hybrid types of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are adaptable insects and now are capable of transmitting virus and viral diseases.
To mitigate and adapt or perhaps transform in a climate change era, Laoag City like any other vulnerable cities in the Philippines should use foresight, prepare, invest and act to diminish the causes of climate change and protect Ilocanos from its impacts. Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas may initiate the creation of a climate change city resiliency committee with the best, the most knowledgeable, passionate, experienced and capable community members as advocates. This committee acting as an advisory and action body of the good mayor—as volunteers—can help explore the most visible and unknown city climate driven risks and find ways to manage and mitigate their impacts. The committee may act as a think-do-act tank to support and expand her environment and resiliency initiatives. With Ms. Fariñas’ wit and will, she could devise multiple spaces and avenues for meaningful conversation to increase Laoagueños awareness, capacity and local climate change engagements. Through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, they could generate and translate imaginative conversations and ideas into climate change mitigation and adaptation actions like reframing or refining climate change ordinances, resolutions, executive orders, projects, events, initiatives among others. 24/7 Agserbi could evolve and should make climate change and resiliency the core of the mayor’s community and city-futures based initiatives. Filipinos risk perception and climate change awareness and engagements are apparently low according to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore.
Laoag City and Ilocos Norte needs to deepen its engagements beyond the business as usual. The evil impacts of climate change represent unimaginable risk and it could offset the gains we’ve attained in the last six years. We need to formulate transformative plans to respond to the threats and seize the opportunities. (Source: http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2016/04/preparing-for-evil-climate-change.html
Acts of Leadership
As a climate reality leader, I am scheduled to do a region-wide and pro-bono education and advocacy related to climate change. I intend to blend climate change, public policy, governance and strategic foresight in my presentations. I listed at least five acts of leadership to pitch in to the effort of educating and engaging more people to climate action:
- Present and share the learnings that I had whenever and wherever I can: Schools, Churches, Workplace, Government, NGO;
- Write columns and articles related to climate change, local impacts and resilience;
- Participate in national and local actions aimed to reduce carbon emissions and advance renewable energy development projects, programs and policies;
- Engage in tree surgery and management initiatives, plant trees, participate in coastal clean-up and preserve the places that we love;
- Organize a province-wide eco-bikers mangrove tree planting this year.
Concluding this with more photos and videos! Enjoy 🙂