It was really an honor that I proudly accepted as The Oscar M Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation, Inc. (The OML Center) is supported by Lopez Group of Companies, a Filipino business conglomerate owned by the López family.
Having been active in the environment field for 40 years with the last 9 years working on climate change issues, this may be the first time I encountered an organization working on adaptation issues, initiated by private sector. Naturally I was curious on how the experience would be unfolding, especially since The OML Center decided on a theme of interest to many: “10 Acts to Take to a Climate-Resilient ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).”
ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY
It was a timely event, as the ASEAN Economic Community was established last year, a major milestone in the regional economic integration agenda in ASEAN, offering opportunities in the form of a huge market of US$2.6 trillion and over 622 million people in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam
The goal of this session was to bring together climate experts and advocates from Southeast Asia to shepherd discussions on actionable solutions towards the region’s climate-resilient future.
It was organized in two parts. The first part sought to establish the issues that make countries of ASEAN most vulnerable to climate change. The second part provided a venue to identify and firm up commitments to contribute to a climate-resilient ASEAN among climate advocates that they will carry forward.
Two days prior to the session, The OML Center invited the experts and advocates participating in the session for an icebreaker dinner, a warm interaction with the Center management and staff.
During dinner I learned more about the Center’s activities. Based on its vision, The OML Center focuses on the Philippines through awarding of research grants, building networks and partnerships, capacity building and communication, enabling solution deployment, and recognizing scientists’ achievement.
A JOURNALIST AND SCIENTISTS
Ms. Karen Davila , a top Filipino broadcast journalist at ABS-CBN flawlessly led the session attended by 200 people, mostly in their 20s and 30s.
Dr. Madan Gautam, a Research Coordinator at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies, Australia presented a keynote speech on Climate Resilient Development in Asia. Federico R. Lopez , Chairman and CEO First Philippine Holdings Corp. provided a reaction To Dr. Gautam’s speech with particular focus on clean and renewable/sustainable energy
During a dialogue with Perspectives on Resilience, Wilson Ang, ECO Singapore and myself discussed regional climate issues.
Among my suggestion to the audience was to accept the facts that climate change learning is challenging due to several factors identified by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) as involving diverse sector of government, different levels of governance, multitude of concerned groups, and complex Issues.
I have been the National Focal Point for ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change for some years, and would like to emphasize that we need to see more actions on ASEAN scale that focus on resilience.
An important step is to identify best practices in each of the 10 ASEAN countries to be upscaled while respecting traditional wisdoms. Some good resilience programs initiated by government institutions in Indonesia that can be easily upscaled nationally and regionally include Climate Field School, Climate Village Program, Indonesia Coastal Education Program, Green School, Green Citiy, and Eco District.
The second part of the session was an interactive one where audience identified climate issues to address through an automated response system.
They then were divided into groups based on climate issues identified. The group produced a short video on their commitments to the statements of acts they formulated.
In the middle of the first part of the session, I noticed touching interactions between sign language interpreters and those in the audience who need assistance. This attention to details made me admire The OML Center more, as the disabled is an important climate change stakeholder. The World Health Organization States that over a billion people, about 15% of the world's population, have some form of disability.
I am hoping that the session of “10 Acts to Take to a Climate-Resilient ASEAN” during the Climate Reality Project training with Al Gore is a momentum for The OML Center to expand its work in the ASEAN region.
Seeing the Center’s networks, its outputs and how professional they run the session I am confident that a number of organizations in ASEAN either government or non government entities would want to establish networks with The OML Center.
Through our nature of friendship, hospitality and mutual cooperation, it should not be difficult to do activities that promote resilience on an ASEAN scale.
Amanda Katili Niode
Manager, The Climate Reality Project Indonesia