By Marisol Tuso
April 30, 2022
Small steps may seem insignificant compared to the billion tons of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere every year. But if many of us will cast a stone across waters—meaning we all do our part to live more sustainably and demand accountability from government and private sector leaders—we can create ripples and make meaningful impacts in the long run. From changing our daily habits–the way we eat, we travel, consume energy, use plastics, and more; to taking bolder actions by joining protests and participating in policymaking, one can help limit the impacts of climate change.
Taking bolder climate action
Our Climate Reality Leaders in SOCCSKSARGEN and BARMM are all working towards advancing climate change adaptation and mitigation in their respective communities.
Some have volunteered for movements and organizations such as Bayang Walang Basura Project, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), YES for the OCEANS. Others are working on the protection of migratory birds, ecotourism management planning, water supply and wastewater management, urban gardening, heritage conversation, and cleanup drives.
In SOCCSKSARGEN, Climate Reality Leaders are focused on campaigns focused on climate justice and sustainable development goals.
Ramon Christopher Manero of Polomolok, South Cotabato has been facilitating a training workshop on climate change impacts. He also volunteered under Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and Island Innovation Ambassadorship Program. He also serves as a Coordinator for the Water Sufficiency and Climate-Smart Industries and Services Clusters of the Climate Reality Philippines.
Also coming from Polomolok, Climate Reality Leader Lelanie Togonon has been actively participating in climate initiatives and events. She has been sharing social media posts from the Climate Reality Philippines Facebook Page and from other sources to help in amplifying climate change awareness.
During the Regional Hangout last April 18, Ramon and Lanie discussed how they can collaborate to push for climate change awareness and action in South Cotabato.
On the other hand, Hajar Kabalu of Marawi City has recently participated in a clean-up drive during World Water Day. He is also active in climate preservation and conservation, and youth initiatives. He is also consciously campaigning against single-use plastics by promoting the use of sustainable products, such as bamboo or metal straws, bringing water tumblers instead of buying single-use bottles of mineral water, and more.
Facing the challenges
As an advocate, Haj shared that pushing for climate action in our communities remains a challenge. There is still a need to amplify awareness campaigns because some have not yet seen the urgency of climate impacts.
In Cotabato, Ramon finds these as challenges in advancing climate action— restrictions due to pandemic and limited resources, such as manpower, for the campaigning and other activities.
Addressing pressing climate change issues in our communities requires collaboration among the government, the academe, non-government organizations, and the private sector.
There is a need for systemic changes and actions that should be facilitated and led by the government. Local government units, in particular, should integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation in local development planning, implement environmental protection programs and projects, and enforce climate change laws and regulations.
Looking at the pressing issues in SOCCSKSARGEN and BARMM, we need to address poor solid waste management, water insufficiency, plastic pollution, illegal logging, unsustainable farming, and kaingin activities.
Rising sea levels, strong winds, and heavy rains resulting in flooding and landslides have been observed in the regions as well. Thus, there is a need to build community resilience by integrating actions to reduce and eliminate climate risks and vulnerabilities in local development planning. There is a need, among others, to build climate-resilient infrastructure. There is also a need to consider the interconnectedness of environmental problems with the economic, political, and cultural well-being of the community.
About 33 of the 148 Climate Reality Leaders in Mindanao are coming from SOCCSKSARGEN. At least 10 of them are from BARMM.
Most of the Acts of Leadership from the Climate Reality Leaders in the regions are volunteering for environmental organizations, participating in climate change-related events, sharing climate change-related content on social media, performing direct public outreach, creating resource materials about the climate crisis, and meeting or contacting an influencer to raise awareness of the climate crisis.
Our leaders are committed to #LeadOnClimate. You can start with simple steps too. Start from your home by changing your habits and finding a group with climate action initiatives in your locality. These small steps will eventually snowball into bigger and more impactful climate actions.
Marisol is the Mindanao Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She has been working in the development sector for 16 years. She is a specialist in training, institution and community development, information, education, and communication (IEC), and gender and social inclusion. Aside from being a broadcast journalist since 1997, she also served as the Project Coordinator of the Global Fund for Malaria Component Project for 10 years and as Training and IEC Specialist of the Philippine Cold Chain Project.
ABOUT HISGUTANANG KLIMA SA MINDANAO
Hisgutanang Klima or “Climate Discussions” is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 100 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Mindanao.
It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.