Fight vs climate change needs correct info–UN exec

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BAGUIO CITY—Climate change has become a popular phrase that is often used by government officials to explain the intensity and frequency of natural calamities that hit communities in the country.

But making the public understand the concept and science of extreme weather patterns, and the impact the state of the environment has on climate, should be a priority to make communities more resilient against natural calamities, a United Nations official said here last week.

“We need to convert [countless studies and information about the changing weather, the environment and biodiversity] into knowledge, and knowledge is only knowledge if it is used,” said Praveen Agrawal, country director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

Agrawal launched the Knowledge and Training Resource Center of the University of the Philippines Baguio here on July 11.

He said information, even the policies circulated by the government concerning its plan to reduce the impact of extreme weather patterns, do not automatically become knowledge.

Agrawal said he was aware that government agencies occasionally clash due to conflicting interpretations of these policies and of the reasons for the climate crisis.

“It can be knowledge if people understand it,” he said. “We have to constantly seek ways to deliver that knowledge in the right form, the right time and the right way.”

The Knowledge Center is tasked with gathering scientific materials on climate change and translating and popularizing these materials, as well as laws regulating the use of natural resources and protecting the environment, to help communities deal with the erratic weather, said UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos.

It is also required to share good practices about protecting the environment and maintain a website, he said. The WFP is one of the center’s donors.

Agrawal said he visited the vegetable farms of Tublay, Benguet, last week and realized how knowledge about climate change would help communities there. While in Tublay, he said his group experienced heavy rain that could destroy local livelihood or trigger landslides.

Agrawal said communities are equipped with traditional knowledge about farming and the weather, so “the synergy of indigenous knowledge in managing disasters… combined with scientific and [an] evidence-based approach [to documenting the changes in weather patterns] further build the resilience of people in the Cordillera.”

The translation alone has been a difficult task, UP Baguio officials said.

But Agrawal said not all information need to be transmitted on paper.

“One of the interesting things we found in Asia [is that] we have an incredible plethora of opportunities [for communicating issues],” he said.

“In my country [India], every state has a different language. We use English as a working language, but every state prefers to speak their own language,” Agrawal said.

The best way of disseminating information, he said, is through videotaped discussions of issues using local languages. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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