Nicky Perlas-led ‘Liwanag’ climate change confab shows the way

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Jan) – The Liwanag World Festival can contribute in the process of climate change adaptation in two ways, according to Nicanor Perlas, festival director and co-founder of the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking (MISSION).

The former presidential candidate said the Liwanag event, to be held here on Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, is the first of its kind in the Philippines that will bring people together who have “exciting initiatives” in facing different challenges in the country.

Perlas said one way for Liwanag to contribute to climate change adaptation is to make its conferences “carbon neutral”.

He cited that based on the computation of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), the Liwanag event will have a total carbon footprint of 77.41 tons of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere.

Based on CENRO’s estimates, Perlas noted, Liwanag needs to plant at least 3,100 trees to absorb the carbon dioxide.

“But we will plant a minimum of 6,000 trees as it is better… We will be doing this in all our activities,” he said in a phone interview.

At least 80 volunteers, including students from various colleges and universities here, will help in the tree planting, according to Maya Vandenbroeck, Liwanag head for volunteers.

Liwanag will also encourage its participants to do their “small share of carbon saving and offsetting practices,” and track and report their commitments in its website:

“In this way, we will walk our talk,” Perlas said.

Another way to help in addressing climate change, he said, is to show the systemic approach in major problems in society.

“Because in the end it’s not just about climate change, but also about how we run our economy, how we govern ourselves, etc.,” he said.

He said all problems, including poverty, will be tackled in Liwanag.

The long term goal of Liwanag is to create new kinds of partnerships or a new form of “bayanihan” in eradicating poverty, addressing climate change and issues of governance, Perlas said.

He cited that Liwanag will have some 1,000 to 2,000 participants, who will be coming from different parts of the country and the world.

He hoped that this event will become annual or bi-annual, noting that it depends on which city in the Philippines.

Last Jan. 16 Mayor Sara Duterte, through Proclamation No. 3, Series of 2013, declared Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2013 as creativity and sustainability week in the city.

The proclamation backed “the need to articulate a positive and inspiring vision of the future and to showcase initiatives which would benefit our communities and paint a better future for our children.”

In addition, it also promotes the “need for greater resilience to face current challenges facing the nation; celebration of existing initiatives and creative ideas essential for spiritual, human, societal, cultural, political, economic and ecological developments necessary in realizing the change very much needed in our societies.”

To be held at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao, the Liwanag is being organized by the MISSION and supported by the city government of Davao, Lifebank Foundation, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Inc., and the Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies.

Liwanag organizers said that the recent floods in the city that displaced 40,000 people showed the urgent message of climate change adaptation.

No longer be prevented

Leo Avila, festival consultant and former city agriculturist, told MindaNews that climate change can no longer be prevented, “taking note of the decades of deforestation in our watershed.”

He said what the people can do is minimize its impact, manage remaining resources well, build and strengthen protective mechanisms, aggressively reforest the watersheds, and strengthen community-based disaster preparedness.

“Climate change is here, no more doubt about it. As a result, coupled with our impaired ecosystems brought about by irresponsible utilization of resources, we are now in the mercy of its effects, including floods and drought in certain areas. Unless we address this issue with sustainability, it will become worse,” he added.

But he said it can only be done if everybody does his share, including the ones in the government, business and civil society. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)