ELEVENTH HOUR: Creating a safe space to walk the talk for the climate

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,600 islands, making climate change impacts non-linear and complex. The multitude of languages and cultures across the islands make the communication of such impacts an even greater challenge.

While reliable evidence-based information about climate change has grown tremendously in the last five years, much of it is often too technical and rarely involves a call for action. It is rarely communicated in a way that can be easily understood by decision-makers and the general public as a whole, especially by communities most at risk.

Studies have found that in media reporting of climate change adaptation in developing countries, there has been little interest by journalists and editors to cover adaptation issues related to climate change. One of the main reasons for this is the low level of knowledge of the issues.

In response, the Oscar M. Lopez Center organized the Balangay Project with a media component that aims to organize local journalists and other media practitioners for more science-based reporting alongside creative journalism on the underreported climate realities in the country.

This media component features the Umalohokan Fellowship, a mix of co-production and capacity-building activities in climate science and climate communications, as well as the conduct of media blitz campaigns by the Fellows to raise awareness and understanding on climate issues in their communities. The Fellowship hopes to establish environmental journalism-led networks within local communities and across the nation to inspire action.

The OML Center, in partnership with The Climate Reality Project Philippines and Asia Society Philippines, held 'Turning Climate Stories into Action' on Dec. 10, 2021.

Last Dec. 10, 2021, the Oscar M. Lopez Center, in partnership with The Climate Reality Project Philippines (Climate Reality Philippines) and the Asia Society Philippines, held a multi-stakeholder forum to put the spotlight on some of the climate stories of the Center’s Umalohokan Fellows. More importantly, the forum aimed to engage key actors and stakeholders who can play a critical role in taking action.

The forum invited a panel of reactors to help facilitate roundtable discussions on the challenges of, and opportunities to, taking action related to each featured story. This served as a jump-off point for the solutions brainstorming that followed, where a breakout session was organized around each story with the active participation of the forum participants.

Led and moderated by the various thematic clusters of Climate Reality Philippines, the breakout sessions yielded a rich array of insights and ideas on how the issues featured in the climate stories could be taken a step further.  The main discussion points of each cluster have been summarized in a synthesis report.

Filipino Climate Reality Leaders, journalists, communicators, and civil society representatives participated in the multi-stakeholder forum.

When taken together, the breakout sessions also provided valuable insights toward climate reporting and action. Many of the climate issues discussed continue to highlight pervading development concerns, such as climate impacts to livelihood, food security, and communities at large. Sadly, limited knowledge and capacity in understanding climate information and putting it to good use remain a challenge to many of the issues.

Surprisingly, most if not all, the breakout sessions saw networking and collaboration as an important element to solving issues, as if a recognition that climate action is no one person’s responsibility, but everyone’s. Multi-stakeholder forums, in this sense, could play a vital role in providing spaces for various actors and stakeholders to come together where trust, accountability, and shared mission can help guarantee open and honest dialogue.

Lastly, the forum was able to highlight the role that communicators play in making the voices of the underreported heard and in pushing the conversations closer to action. An important insight was ensuring that communicators allow communities to speak for themselves, not just on their behalf.

The plenary session, team presentations, and panel insights are available for viewing on the OML Center YouTube channel.

Team Bintuwak’s Ritchel Cahilig presented the results of their breakout session. Team Bintuwak received the final Umalokohan Grant.

This multi-stakeholder forum is but the beginning. More climate stories need to be told and shared, and even more so, that must turn into action. The window to solve the climate crisis is shrinking fast. If these discussions can catalyze the networks to pull in and pool together what will be needed to arrest the rapid warming of the planet and its negative impacts, then we encourage everyone to take part in the storytelling and the problem solving by keeping the conversations going.

If you would like to know more about these stories, receive a copy of the synthesis report on the solutions brainstorming, or organize a multi-stakeholder forum, please email the Oscar M. Lopez Center at [email protected] or [email protected].

About the author

Perpi Tiongson is the associate director of the Oscar M. Lopez Center. In 2016, she completed the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Manila by Al Gore and the Oxford Adaptation Academy from the University of Oxford. She brings her interdisciplinary background to the center to do its mission of harnessing science to produce actionable knowledge for climate resilient thinking and action.