Resilience Frontiers, Korea Global Adaptation Week 2019. Photo by the UNFCC 2019

What might a day in the life of a person feel like in a climate-changed world? If you were to wake up in a climate resilient futures Ala Rip Van Winkle say in the year 2050 and was given the privilege to ask at least ten questions, what questions would you ask? What might a climate-changed future be or how might a climate resilient world look like from a futures standpoint? How can emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, big data and blockchain strengthen people, and communities resilience to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change? If technological growth is exponential, are humans and systems capacities to adapt exponential enough to meet new challenges of a fast-changing climate? In what ways can emerging technologies drive innovations in climate change adaptation? How might futures literacy or the future impact people and institutions perspectives on climate change? What new visions, new questions, and leadership thought streams could emerge when visionaries and thought leaders apply anticipatory tools to innovate and imagine alternative future worlds?

These among many other frontier issues were explored, imagined, debated and deliberated by 100 global visionaries and thought leaders in five-days of collective intelligence and brain-swarming sessions at Resilience Frontiers of the Korea Global Adaptation Week from April 8-12, 2019 held at the Songdo, Convensia, Incheon, South Korea.

The sessions employed UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Laboratory Framework and Futur/io’s Moonshot Approach to deconstruct and reconstruct climate change futures.

Resilience Frontiers is an inter-agency effort undertaken by the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Secretariat in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre, EIT Climate-KIC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Global Water Partnership, the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

According to the UNFCC, climate change adaptation means solutions or actions that respond to current and future climate change impacts. Adaptation is systemic and structural (social, technological, economic, political, cultural, ethical) changes in responding to mitigate the impacts of and create opportunities from climate change.

Waking up in a Brave New World: Rip Meets Sophia 12.0

Imagine you were Rip Van Winkle who was deep asleep for the last twenty years; wakened up by Sophia, 12.0, an advanced AI, in a brave new world. Wandering, perplexed and confused, you’ve begun asking people what, how and why the new world.

Using a technological frame and imagining themselves as Rip Van Winkle struggling to make sense of the new world, participants were asked to ideate and list 10 personal questions about the future in which they woke up.

The participants were clustered around four emerging technology themes: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, satellite technology, and sustainability ethos. The groups were asked to ideate, write or list their questions about the world in which they woke up. Anchored on the probable impacts of the fourth industrial revolution, participants reflected on the convergence points of these technologies to explore probable futures.

I was tasked to facilitate one of the four Artificial Intelligence (AI) groups. Questions below were the most compelling that participants came up with. These were shared with the group and later to the plenary. The questions were also shared via social media:

  • Are there still programmers?
  • Is AI opensource and creative?
  • Can we trust data? Can we trust AI?
  • Are AIs used under human supervision or are they completely autonomous?
  • Was AI the best solution to climate change problems?
  • Can AI help mitigate the causes and impacts of climate change?
  • Was AI able to help reduce global temperatures to 1.5 degrees?
  • Do we have augmented human intelligence – body/machine interfaces?
  • Do most people work to make a living?
  • Do we have the resources we need to build and deploy AI tools and solutions?
  • Are Big Techs owning AI?
  • Are algorithms certified?
  • Is AI empathetic?
  • Do you trust AI?
  • Has quantum computing broken through?
  • Do AI technological solutions currently exist to solve some of the problems related to climate change?
  • Has general AI been developed and deployed?
  • Are we dependent on AI for survival?
  • Is seed AI a reality?
  • Has technology helped us in preventing/countering famine, wars and other global challenges?
  • Have machines taken over power?
  • Has politics become AI?
  • Do we have AI continents?
  • Are governments in charge of designing AIs we are relying on?
  • Is there a stable and effective to enforce global cooperation?
  • Am I living in a liberal-democratic nation-state?
  • Is China running the AI show?
  • Is AI regulated?
  • Are AIs regulating resource allowance? Work assignments? Schedules? Politics?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Influencing Futures of Basic Needs

The next session had the participants reshuffled around five basic needs to survive and thrive in a climate-changed world: Food, Water, Nature, Human Security, and Health.

The groups were asked to take the discussion points from the probable futures of technologies session and explored their convergence points and impacts to futures of basic needs. Each participant were again asked to ideate individually, reflect on them and share their ideas and insights to the group. The group would then report back to the plenary to share the group’s output.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addressing the Korea Global Adaptation Week. Photo by UNFCC 2019

I facilitated one of the groups that tackled food futures. Below is a summary of the groups’ output on the future of food in a climate-changed world:

  • Technology or ethos discussed: Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain
  • Key points that summarized their discussion: 1) Technology, when it aids for production, is promising! 2) There is a need for an integrated farmers systems that universalize access to trade and markets and that helps and sustains them to stay resilient; 3) There is a need for a technology enabling global food system that guarantees food safety, security and sustainability.
  • Hashtag for each key points: 1) #foodcanfixit; #osmosis; 2) #resilientto1.5C; 3) #unchainedfood; #ALOHAS; #singularfood
  • Brief Thematic Title: Resiliocene or Sustainology

Envisioning Desirable Futures via Moonshot Thinking

Climate change, its magnitude, and multiplicities of impacts, real or imagined, to people and communities are huge wicked problems. Business as usual solutions is usually not enough to solve complex global challenges like a pandemic, food crisis, water crisis, species extinction, terrorism, etc. Simplistic or one size fits all solutions makes wicked problems even more wicked. Tackling wicked problems such as climate change requires individuals, people, organizations and systems to imagine and do the impossible. In other words, you need to shoot for the moon or create wicked opportunities to address wicked problems!

Moonshot thinking according to Google X is the creation of ridiculous ideas or solutions that borders between reality and sci-fi! Moonshot thinking is all about taking on global-scale problems with radical solutions through some form of breakthrough technology with 10X more impact. Netflix disrupting streaming, AirBnB disrupting hotels, Uber disrupting public transportation, Tesla PowerWall disrupting energy storage, self-driving cars, power loons providing internet to everyone are examples of moonshot ideas and solutions creating more impact.

The first moonshot sessions enabled participants to learn foundational moonshot via future/io’s structured, design thinking inspired and Zen-like approach to moonshot thinking. Building on Day 1’s discussions and output of probable futures, participants envisioned their desirable futures, individually reflected on it and designed moonshot ideas in breakthrough technologies to solve food, water, security, nature and health problems. Here are some of the participants’ moonshot ideas in a climate-resilient world:

  • Remote sensing energy irrigation systems and aggregation platforms that facilitate sustainability and that support smallholders farming/farms access to fair markets, manage climate shocks and avert losses;
  • Transparent pricing systems for agricultural products through blockchain and application based systems that compute agricultural carbon emissions. The system transforms consumer choices and empowers them in their investment decisions supporting climate-resilient food systems and choices.
  • Outdoor working transport pods connecting people and nature to create healthier homes and a better working world. Less physical and more virtualized services reduce carbon emissions during construction and operations.

Reframing: Breaking Free from the Business as Usual Trap

The moonshot thinking session allowed participants to imagine their desirable futures by conceptualizing, inventing or improvising a breakthrough technology or new sustainable practices to create a climate resilient world. Building on their previous discussions on the convergence points of emerging technologies, they were able to reflect on some radical solutions to some huge problems facing food, security, water, health and nature futures. What I have shared here was just the tip of the iceberg as participants might have roughly conceptualized around 50 moonshots.

Now the reframing session was about enabling participants to question their probable and desirable futures. By identifying the gaps and making upfront their biases about the future of basic needs and knowing what informs or drives them in perceiving alternatives and in imagining a climate resilient world, participants were able to distance themselves from their probable and desired futures and think of alternative ideas and questions their assumptions of the future.

Questions such as was our probable and desirable futures a used, purchased or default futures? Was our moonshot ideas driven by the status quo? Were our assumptions about desirable futures business as usual driven? What are the gaps or what were our biases in imagining probable and desirable futures of a climate resilient world? Were our moonshots bold, daring, radical or ridiculous enough to create 10x more growth and 10x more impact? Or were these moonshots a byproduct of trends? were asked to trigger conversations at the reframing session. Tools such as the Causal Layered Analysis and the DESTEP framework were learned and applied to push the boundaries of extrapolation, map and deepen participants analyses and insights and explore the unimagined or unthought of.

The session began with the head of UNESCO’s futures literacy Riel Miller’s short video explaining the context and intent of reframing via the futures literacy laboratory framework. According to Riel, reframing is all about imagining the future without paying attention to probabilities or desirability. Reframing is about abandoning the idea that the future is something that we want to get to but rather reframing is the place where we play by using our imagination, a critical resource, the future. It is an attempt to rethink without being constrained by reality. Reframing is an exercise where we invent a world that we have not seen before. It has to with unique creations and acknowledging that the future is fluid and open requiring a change in the conditions of change. For more about UNESCO’s futures literacy laboratories and the learning intensive society, check and download https://www.routledge.com/Transforming-the-Future-Open-Access-Anticipation-in-the-21st-Century/Miller/p/book/9781138485877

Questioning Assumptions about Food Futures via Causal Layered Analysis

CLA or the Causal Layered Analysis is one of the most powerful foresight theory and tools used by futurists and policy analysts to analyze and integrate diverse modes of knowing reality to explore plausible futures. The tool is applied not for its predictive value but it allows end-users to peek layers of, vertical and horizontal, plausible futures. The real or the future can be deconstructed, understood and re-imagined at different levels namely: the news headlines or the litany and quantitative trends; systems – STEEPLE analysis or technical analysis backed by data; worldview – the deeper values that are actor-invariant or discourses we use to understand or frame an issue; and the metaphor or myth level of analysis that incorporates emotional feelings, the narrative that constitutes reality or the inner story level of experience that gives meaning to beliefs, values or cognitions. For more about the Causal Layered Analysis, check or grab a copy of CLA readers at http://www.metafuture.org/product/cla-reader-and-cla-2-0-pdfs/.

The group that deconstructed their assumptions of probable and desirable futures, the food group, in particular, acknowledged their biases in that each of them interprets the problem as they’ve experienced them. The fact was that they were influenced or that they’ve held onto some deeply held views or value propositions to what and how must the future of food be and should be like. It was difficult to distance oneself from the analysis and it was even more challenging to imagine the future beyond the business as usual. Via the CLA, knowing our cognitive biases enabled participants to not just be aware of them but to open up, disclose and share these biases for a deeper and more inclusive, sublime or perhaps a more spiritually or emotionally connected, or for lack of a better word, mindful or being-full conversation.

Youssef Nassef, Director, Adaptation, UNFCC welcomes the facilitators and participants of the Resilience Frontiers. Photo by UNFCC 2019.

Participants were able to individually and collectively reflect on what their biases in their assumptions were and questioned them. The breadth and depth and the layers of the group’s reflections revealed a previously dormant futures assumptions. The quality and inclusiveness in the conversations, the content and contexts were surprisingly different from what was imagined or discussed on Day 1. Some unique ideas and perspectives of alternatives hit the group and me, as a facilitator, to the core. The group began to re-frame the future by questioning them at different levels of reality.

News headlines – What if there are no one way of getting people or farmers organized to scale and upscale their interests in production, consumption, trade, and markets, etc. at the local and global levels? What if singularity or homogeneity leads to oppression or authoritarianism? What if our choices evolve into something more heterogeneous and not homogeneous? What if all that has been or that what we’ve had previously assumed or imagined are disrupted by some certain events like a global catastrophe that leads to global food crises? What if this one singular desired future or breakthrough technology increases single point of failure types of risks? What if suddenly our body mutates into something that requires lesser physical food? What if the food we eat becomes weirder? What if the way we produced and consumed food evolved into something really strange (something that was un-imagined in 2019)? What if we humans due to some human body induced, tech-altering human natural biology suspends or totally ends the feeling of hunger or need of food in human bodies (i.e. neural food ends human hunger in 2040)?

Worldviews – The bias of scalability is in itself a problem; The bias that I have the solution to every problem and jumping straight to a solution or our tendency to commit ourselves to a singular solution blinds us from knowing what the problem really is, is the problem. This holds us back from being, from knowing, from experimenting and innovating; Being super optimistic or being overly pessimistic is a negative cognitive bias.

Metaphor – Our tendency to upscale, intensify; the human addiction to speed and growth; the pursuit for excellence is our fatal flaw. The strong belief or the mindset to expect an outcome is a perceptual and behavioral bias. The expectation of an outcome is a corrosive cognitive bias. It shuts us off from imagining an alternative story of the future; of life and progress. (To be continued…)

Shermon Cruz, founder and executive director of the Center for Engaged Foresight, will be joining as one of the 7-member facilitation team of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) Resilience Frontiers, a disruptive brainstorming conference on the future of resilience, which will take place at the Songdo Convensia, from 8 to 12 April, 2019, in Songdo, South Korea.

The event marks the beginning of a collective intelligence process on how best to respond to the deep societal transformations driven by emerging technologies and new sustainability trends, and to maximize our resilience to climate change beyond 2030.

It will be hosted by the Government of South Korea, during the Korea Global Adaptation Week. It is an interagency effort, undertaken by the UNFCCC secretariat in collaboration with Climate-KIC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Global Water Partnership, the International Development Research Centre, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Over the course of the five days of Resilience Frontiers, around 100 visionary thinkers and thought leaders from international organizations as well as non-profit, private and academic/research entities, working across fields and disciplines in all parts of the world, will be offered a variety of tools to experiment, discuss, reflect on, and co-create visions for our common future against the backdrop of resilience. Inspired by UNESCO’s well-established Futures Literacy Laboratory action-learning framework and by Futur’io’s Moonshot approach, the collective intelligence process in Resilience Frontiers has been co-designed so as to maximize participants’ learning, creativity and innovation.

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Climate Reality Leadership Training Philippines facilitated by Nobel Prize Recipient Al Gore, 2016, Photo courtesy of Climate Reality Project http://www.climatereality.org

A Decade of Environmental Activism: From 2005 to 2012 

A decade ago I was one of the many who got inspired from Al Gore’s seminal presentation and movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. The learnings I got from this would in many ways shape my worldview and deepened my understanding of climate change, public policy, environment governance, advocacy and management. The talk would disrupt me and then a couple of months later I would find myself organizing a local-based environmental network and advocacy group that would in a couple of weeks mobilize diverse environmental initiatives and actions in Ilocos from:tree surgery to tree management (https://frjessie.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/denr-ngo-want-poll-bets-cited-for-using-25000-trees/); to advancing and participating  in the review and consultation of renewable energy development proposals and CSR projects (http://bayan-natin.blogspot.com/2007/07/live-earth-at-seas-first-wind-farm-in.html); auditing waste management initiatives and programs;  opposing large-scale mining proposals (https://leadmovement.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/save-the-remaining-primary-forests-in-ilocos-norte/) and participating in the review of and implementation of Memorandum of agreements aimed to mitigate the environment impacts of existing quarrying projects among others.

 Our group would collaborate and partner with environment government agencies, the church, local government agencies, local environmentalists and NGOs in drafting and advocating the passage of a comprehensive environment code known as the Ilocos Norte Environment Code of 2006 and yes to ensure that trade and investment integrates environmental audits and compliance on small and large-scale invesments in the province  through the Ilocos Norte Investment Code of 2007. These codes are scheduled for review and I expect that the provincial government will hold a series of public hearings to address the gaps in policy content and implementation. This year I anticipate the passage of a Water Code for the next ten years.  

Also, the group which we organize known as the Green Ilocos Norte Network and Advocacy a not for profit NGO would represent “nature” as a member of a dozen of environmental  committees at the national, regional, local and barangay levels.

The group, engaged as it should, would  organize the first and succeeding Earth Hour, Earth Day, World Environment Day global celebrations in Ilocos Norte in partnership with like-minded groups and individuals.

The group would later receive an invitation to share and speak on many environment conferences and public hearings and would get scholarships on Community Based Renewable Energy Development funded by the Department of Energy and the United Nations Environmental Programme.

Later I would receive an invitation and appointment from a former Governor as Executive Assistant for the Environment and received an environmental leadership award from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Ilocos Norte.

Many of these initiatives were institutionalized via the passage of ordinances, issuance of executive orders, adopted by schools and agency partners.

For more I am sharing some video links, photos and news articles of my advocacies as President of the Green Ilocos Norte Network and Advocacy environment:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/ines2006/d3k_JJW6AJ4

http://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2007/04/25/diocese-encourages-care-for-the-earth-through-green-sacrament&post_id=5671

http://s192.photobucket.com/user/ginna_earth/profile/

http://penroinorte.wix.com/denr#!untitled/c1um7

http://krisablan.blogspot.com/2008/07/my-first-year-as-provincial-board.html

https://frjessie.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/denr-ngo-want-poll-bets-cited-for-using-25000-trees/

http://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2009/04/01/catholics-support-earth-hour-lights-out-campaign&post_id=50153

https://blauearth.com/tag/ilocos-norte-earth-hour-2009-celebration/

Deepening Actions, City Resilience and Social Movements: From 2013 to 2016

After my stint at the local government level, I went back to the academe to pursue my interest in futures thinking to explore emerging and alternative futures of cities, organizational resilience and sustainable development.

From 2013 to the present, blending my environment and public administration background with strategic foresight, I saw the facilitation of foresight course as an opportunity to continue my worldviews at the local and global levels and I partnered with the UNESCO Foresight and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines to question business as usual and explore alternative and preferred futures of Philippine cities . These links and articles documented some of my initiatives in the area of futures studies, strategic foresight, climate change and city resilience:

https://vimeo.com/49368796 

http://www.unesco.gov.ph/content/article/Resilient%20Cities,%20Brighter%20Futures%20A%20ForumWorkshop%20on%20Anticipatory%20Studies%20and%20Strategic%20Foresigh

http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2014/05/city-futures-in-transformation.html

https://blauearth.com/tag/unesco/

2016 and beyond: Climate Reality and Renewable Energy Development

Just recently, I have been involved in the review and analysis of current and emerging renewable energy development projects in the province of Ilocos Norte as a specialist and as a concerned citizen.

Just recently we organized a group to look into some RED projects and questioned emerging gaps of RED projects.  I collaborated with the iconic environmental activist Father Robert Reyes and the National Coalition to Save the Trees to opposing the cutting of 1,300 trees for the installation of RED projects in Currimao.

For more you may want to check on these links –

https://www.change.org/p/provincial-government-of-ilocos-norte-municipal-government-of-currimao-department-of-environment-and-natural-resources-one-tree-is-too-many-rethink-the-ilocos-solar-power-project-one-step-forward-two-steps-back;

https://blauearth.com/2015/03/13/nwu-holds-governance-forum-on-tree-cutting-with-father-robert-reyes/; http://www.nordis.net/2015/06/groups-hit-ilocos-lgu-for-tree-cut-permit/; https://hronlineph.com/2015/06/05/statement-national-coalition-to-save-the-trees-collective-statement-on-world-environment-day/);

http://www.ilocossentinel.com/editorial/kasla-balitok-ti-pateg-iti-maysa-a-kayo.html;

http://bayanihan.org/2015/06/11/group-urges-govt-to-rethink-approval-of-red-projects/;

http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2015/03/running-priest-visits-laoag-city-urges.html;

And the effort to oppose the rationalization of black sand mining in Ilocos Norte

https://blauearth.com/2014/08/21/northwestern-university-holds-environmental-forum-on-black-sand-mining/; http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/609540/ilocos-folk-block-bid-to-lift-ban-on-black-sand-mining;

http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2014/06/ilocanos-reject-lifting-of-black-sand.html;

https://ibelieveinmygeneration.wordpress.com/

https://www.google.com.ph/?ion=1&espv=2#q=Shermon+Cruz+Black+Sand+Mining+in+Ilocos+Norte&start=10

Climate Reality Philippines 

Just recently it was amazing to be chosen as one of the recipients of Climate Reality Leadership Training project. I enjoyed the awesome presentation of Al Gore and discussions held to explore and critic the future of climate reality, renewable energy development and environmental movements in the Philippines.

An extract from the article of Mitch Esmino of the Ilocos Times om these event would best illustrate the experience I had from the training.

“The Philippines is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change impacts. With at least 7,100 islands and an estimated 36,298 kilometers of coastline; more than 60 percent of the Filipino population are found within the coastal zone. Thus more than a majority are acutely impacted by climate change. Dangers include food and fresh water scarcity, damage to infrastructure and the devastating sea­-level rise.

With this in mind, the Philippines has now become one of the most serious movers in the world in terms of combating climate change. Acknowledging this, former United States Vice President Albert Arnold “Al” Gore Jr. and The Climate Reality Project hosted the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Manila.

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is a global network of activists committed to taking on the climate crisis and working to solve the greatest challenge of our time. The decade­-long program has worked with thousands of individuals, providing training in climate science, communications, and organizing to tell the story of climate change and inspire leaders to be agents of change in their local communities.

The training produced 700 new “Climate Reality Leaders”. Of this number, Shermon O. Cruz, director and founder of the Center for Engaged Foresight and a The Ilocos Times columnist is included.

Learning from climate change scientists, organizers and spokespersons led by Mr. Gore himself, Mr. Cruz said he originally applied for Climate Reality India in 2015; and though he was selected he was unable to attend. But for this year’s Climate Reality Philippines, he said he made sure to attend.

From his training he explained that Climate Reality aims to mainstream climate science in policy and governance discourse. The group collaborates with multiple sectors to increase awareness and action. He said this is very timely for the Philippines as Filipinos appears to have a low risk perception and awareness of climate change. As such most of us also are unaware of its impacts to lives, communities and future generations. The low awareness of the majority however is contrary to the position the Philippine government has taken on the global stage. He learned from the training that the Philippines has been on the frontlines on climate change issues.

The climate change training afforded Mr. Cruz the opportunity to learn from leading global climate change persons. Mr. Gore was accompanied by several Nobel Prize winners, and top global climate scientists. Those people, he related trained and equipped the new Climate Reality Leaders with the latest information and data on the climate crisis; possible solutions; means of communicating climate change; on the digital tools for social action and organizing for change. The Climate Reality Leaders also explored new sustainable events strategy. This included the how’s to reduce overall energy and water consumption, waste reduction and diversion and engagements.

Climate change impact on PH

AS for the predicted climate change impact on the country, Mr. Cruz said the projections were dire. Projections indicate that sea levels in the country might rise at a rate of 7.6 to 10.2 cm per decade. This event is expected to impact roughly 2.3 million Filipinos.

By 2050, summer months in the country may become more arid; and rainfall is predicted to increase during southwest monsoon season. Day temperatures are seen to stay at 35 degrees Celsius. Extreme weather events and heavier rainfall were also projected to become more frequent.

With these projections, Mr. Cruz the extreme weather events could displace more people. The extreme weather events could also result in greater public health risks, reduced water flow, lower food production and greater hunger risks.

Mr. Cruz added that those in the lower income groups would end up being the most vulnerable.

With the total projected displacements due to climate change incidents pegged at 13.6 million Filipinos, Mr. Cruz said all concerned officials should sit together and come up with plans to both prevent and mitigate the climate change impacts.

He stressed that as an Ilocano and a resident of Ilocos Norte, he will start his climate change information drive in the province. He said he will try to sit down with concerned officials to help them to find ways in either preventing or mitigating the said impacts. He added that they should also come up with a specific map detailing the areas that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. (Source: http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2016/04/climate-change-daunting-reality.html)

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With Ken Berlin, CEO of Climate Reality Project, 2016 (climate reality is a not for profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change)

And my reflections on local impacts of climate change:

 GIVEN THAT climate change is happening now many nation-states, communities, networks and corporations are rushing or perhaps for a lack of a better word swarming to innovate with the hope that this generation could alter many of the world’s climate scientists worst case predictions and secure a better future for this generation and the next.

he enormity and scale of multiple climate change impacts could match any futurists’ version or any artists’ portrayal of a dark, dismal, ridiculous and dystopic alternative future world. An extreme cold snap and blizzard all over South East Asia, 60C or perhaps a sudden drop in temperatures at 10C over the city of Laoag and a recurring weekend typhoons in Ilocos Norte, local pandemics and more in the future could hit world news headlines. Recent records show that global temperature anomalies had been more frequent in the last five years.

February just smashed a century of global temperature records by a staggering margin as our planet suddenly became warmer by 1.35C according to a data NASA released. The world’s leading climate scientists would label this new record as “shocker” and warns of a “climate emergency” reported the Guardian. “We are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2C warming over pre-industrial levels” said climate scientists Masters and Henson. The Climate Summit in Paris two months ago confirmed 2C as the danger limit for global warming which should not be breached.

Last year, the heat index in the city of Bandar Mahshar in Iran were literally off the charts. Factoring in humidity, the astronomical heat index was 165 degrees or a whooping double whammy of an oppressive 74C (imagine that!). This outlier resulted to droughts, chronic water and electricity cuts and spike in energy and food cost and travel restrictions.

Just try to imagine if this happens in Laoag and Ilocos Norte.

Extreme El Niño and droughts according to the latest UN Climate Research could last from 12 to 18 months. Prolonged dry periods may significantly and negatively impact agriculture, water and food supply. It could exacerbate incidence of urban fires and may create huge forest fires as well.  Also, the link between El Niño and disease is so apparent that the cycle of epidemic types of diseases occurs in parallel with extreme weather patterns. The 2016 World Health Organizations research on climate change and diseases concluded that extreme drought could turn rivers into strings of pools and breeding sites for different, emerging and hybrid types of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are adaptable insects and now are capable of transmitting virus and viral diseases.

To mitigate and adapt or perhaps transform in a climate change era, Laoag City like any other vulnerable cities in the Philippines should use foresight, prepare, invest and act to diminish the causes of climate change and protect Ilocanos from its impacts. Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas may initiate the creation of a climate change city resiliency committee with the best, the most knowledgeable, passionate, experienced and capable community members as advocates. This committee acting as an advisory and action body of the good mayor—as volunteers—can help explore the most visible and unknown city climate driven risks and find ways to manage and mitigate their impacts. The committee may act as a think-do-act tank to support and expand her environment and resiliency initiatives. With Ms. Fariñas’ wit and will, she could devise multiple spaces and avenues for meaningful conversation to increase Laoagueños awareness, capacity and local climate change engagements. Through crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, they could generate and translate imaginative conversations and ideas into climate change mitigation and adaptation actions like reframing or refining climate change ordinances, resolutions, executive orders, projects, events, initiatives among others. 24/7 Agserbi could evolve and should make climate change and resiliency the core of the mayor’s community and city-futures based initiatives.  Filipinos risk perception and climate change awareness and engagements are apparently low according to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore. 

Laoag City and Ilocos Norte needs to deepen its engagements beyond the business as usual. The evil impacts of climate change represent unimaginable risk and it could offset the gains we’ve attained in the last six years. We need to formulate transformative plans to respond to the threats and seize the opportunities.  (Source: http://theilocostimes.blogspot.com/2016/04/preparing-for-evil-climate-change.html

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Acts of Leadership 

As a climate reality leader, I am scheduled to do a region-wide and pro-bono education and advocacy related to climate change. I intend to blend climate change, public policy, governance and strategic foresight in my presentations. I listed at least five acts of leadership to pitch in to the effort of educating and engaging more people to climate action:

  1. Present and share the learnings that I had whenever and wherever I can: Schools, Churches, Workplace, Government, NGO;
  2.  Write columns and articles related to climate change, local impacts and resilience;
  3. Participate in national and local actions aimed to reduce carbon emissions and advance renewable energy development projects, programs and policies;
  4. Engage in tree surgery and management initiatives, plant trees, participate in coastal clean-up and preserve the places that we love;
  5. Organize a province-wide eco-bikers mangrove tree planting this year.

Concluding this with more photos and videos! Enjoy 🙂

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Post-Haiyan Futures at ThinkTech Hawaii

Aloha kakahiaka!

Yesterday,  I got interviewed by John Sweeney, researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies for the Post-Haiyan futures segment of ThinkTech Hawaii, a digital media corporation based in Honolulu organized to raise public awareness on diversification, futures thinking, climate change, technology and energy.  John and I discussed a couple of plausible futures for the Philippines in a post-Haiyan scenario and explored some resilience myths that could change the way we perceive and anticipate disasters in a climate change era.

The interview  had me critically analyzing the implications of disaster risk reduction and management  manuals  and discuss national and local government dynamics and the role of political dynasties in performing disaster related activities in the aftermath of the powerful tropical cyclone that hit the Visayas region.

As of today, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reports that the death toll has reached 5,000 and counting and that there were 23,409 injured and 1, 600 missing.  The President of the Philippines, three days after the tropical cyclone impact, declared a state of calamity to fast track rescue operations and rehabilitate affected provinces. The trail of destruction was inconceivable and slew of warnings remain as the Philippines braces for Haiyan-like disasters and storm surges in the future.

New questions and insights emerged during the interview and noted some of them:

1. Do we need to move beyond the business as usual government manuals and idiot guidebooks to disaster risk and crisis management and adopt new models or develop emergent crisis capacity approaches responsive to third world contexts and low income communities?

2. We have to fix the roof while the sun is still shining and the cliche that necessity is the mother of all invention may not be appropriate for countries like the Philippines – a fragile and vulnerable island ecosystem in the Asia Pacific.

3. Cooperative and collaborative strategies is a must to withstand the physical, emotional, biological and psychological impact of disasters. If the government can’t do it, then we have to involve the private sector, the NGOs, the academics, the children, teachers and students, seek the help of the more technologically advanced countries and think labs to plan, prepare respond and respond to disasters.

4. What is resilience in a post-normal era?

5. What about grassroots innovations – Are cheap, dirt-based community prototypes effective in mitigating impact and casualties of disasters? If they are, then we need to create avenues for people to innovate, share their knowledge and network to increase safety and security in disaster prone areas.

5. Poverty amplifies the negative impact of disasters.  To counter and mitigate the impact of disasters in cash only worlds, providing jobs, sustaining local markets, keeping the prices of basic necessities accessible as possible and providing avenues for the most vulnerable to engage in real markets – local and global – can cushion the impact of disasters.

6. The role of remittances in cushioning the impact of disasters should be explored. It was noted that Haiyan relief and other responders needed cash to speed up their relief and rehabilitation efforts. Victims would ask for cash, water, food and medicine.  The government can only do so much as far as relief efforts are concerned and cash would help survivors recover faster and better in an after impact scenario. Government and international aids can only do so much. Providing opportunities for survivors to earn income should occur as possible.

7. As of today, the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub has posted a total of 414million$ dollars in pledged assistance (Rappler, 2013).

8. There is a need to increase government allocation for disaster response and strengthen local government capacity  and technology to respond to natural disasters and calamities.

9. Resilience is a long-term agenda and that there are no easy short-cuts to creating and building resilient communities against increasing incidence of tropical cyclones.

For more ThinkTech Hawaii interview here: