Sunday, July 6, 2014

Climate change stakeholders' involvement, commitment grow from information -- Coloma
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, July 4 (PNA) -- Climate change demands a concerted and deliberate action whereby all stakeholders are actively involved and the measures employed are not merely limited to new policies and approaches, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said in a statement Friday.

Coloma's statement was read by PIA Deputy Director-General and Southern Luzon Cluster head Virgilio DC. Galvez, during the closing portion of the Southern Luzon Climate Change Information Summit held July 2-4 at the Hotel St. Ellis here.

The activity was sponsored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

"The only time policies and programs can be more effective and meaningful is when the people at the ground are truly involved and committed. And the seeds of commitment and involvement are cultivated by information -- information that is useful, appropriate and practical and that could spur people to making quick and sharp decission, especially in times of distress and calamity," the secretary stressed.

Also, he said, this summit is a step towards the right direction.

Indeed, Coloma said, climate change has compelled governments and institutions from across the globe to pause and rethink their strategies and traditional interventions on how to adequately address the vulnerabilities and risks spawned by this phenomenon.

"And there is a consensus that climate change is no longer just an environmental concern but a problem that touches every fabric of our lives as a people, as a country and as a member of the global community," he added.

The government's chief communicator noted that from food security to labor productivity, from environmental equilibrium to geopolitical stability, the ramifications of climate change have been far-reaching, transcending both geographical and economic boundaries.

Coloma disclosed that no less than the World Bank has estimated that climate change has cost the Philippines at least US$ 18.6 billion or roughly Php 799 billion in damages and has claimed more than 10,000 lives due to the series of catastrophic typhoons and natural dissaters such as "Yolanda," "Ondoy," "Peping," and "Sendong."

In the same vein, he said, the DARA Group, a Europe-based non-government organization which works closely with the United Nations Development Program has calculated that in 2012 alone, the world economy lost a staggering US$ 1.2 trillion, thereby wiping out an outstanding 1.6 percent of the global gross domestic product, with most of the losses concentrated in the agricultural sector, especially in developing and emerging countries.

"This summit has served as a venue of cooperation and collaboration between the DENR and the PIA in our efforts to utilize the govenment's information network to inform, inspire and mobilize our various stakeholders, especially the residents of high-risk or vulnerable areas," Coloma said.

He said the partnership is an offshoot of the DENR and the PIA's common desire to explore alternative mechanisms to widen and deepen citizen and civic participation in ensuring the efficacy of the various government plans and programs to address the issues associated with climate hange.

From concept to execution, both the DENR and the PIA have been working hand-in-hand to ensure the full fruition of this partnership, the secretary said.

"I call on everyone today to make climate change not only the concern of the government but also of our respective communities and families," Coloma said. (PNA) LAP/FGS/cbd