Festival to address urgent challenge of climate change adaptation

The Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies Through Initiatives Organizing and Networking (Mission), organizers of the Liwanag World Festival on Creativity and Sustainability, today announced in a media conference that Liwanag will be the country’s first major gathering to be carbon neutral.

Liwanag, a unique world festival and the first of its kind in the Philippines, is slated to open in a few days, starting on January 29 and ending on Feb. 2, 2013, at the Philippine Women’s College in Davao City.

“The era of destructive extreme weather events is upon us and will escalate in the years to come”, emphasized Nicanor Perlas, Liwanag Festival Director. “We have to contribute our modest share towards addressing the challenge of climate change. And designing a major event to be carbon neutral and encouraging others to do the same, is one of them”, Perlas continued.

In addition, Liwanag organizers stressed that climate adaptation means not just to be more knowledgeable of weather and climate patterns. It also means converging this wisdom with how we structure our economy, how we govern ourselves, how we consume, and whether or not our lifestyle is climate friendly. “This is the reason why Liwanag’sProgram is designed to encourage a deeper and more systemic approach to societal challenges like climate change”, explained Shiela Castillo-Tiangco, climate change specialist with Liwanag and a climate change presenter for The Climate Reality Project of Al Gore, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace and former Vice-President of the United States of America.

The recent floods that have swept through Davao City, the venue of the Liwanag World Festival, underscored the urgent message of climate change adaptation advocated by the organizers of Liwanag. “Abnormal rains pounded on Davao City drowned many areas and displaced over 39,000 people”, stressed Leo Avila, former chief agriculturist of Davao City and Festival consultant. “These same torrential rains also hampered rehabilitation efforts in communities devastated by super typhoon Pablo”, lamented Avila.

Carbon emissions from technology and other human activities, including vehicles, power plants, chemical fertilizers, and industries, are among the major causes of climate change, the gradual heating up of Planet Earth. With global warming comes from extreme weather events, super typhoons, flooding and major disasters for human settlements. To be carbon neutral means to offset carbon emissions with activities that take away carbon from the air, including tree-planting efforts.

Mission, through Leo Avila, asked Atty. Joey Felizarta, OIC, of the Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office, to do a carbon footprint auditing of Liwanag. “According to Felizarta, Liwanag will have a total carbon footprint of 77.41 tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere”, reported Avila. “The CENRO official further wrote that Liwanag willhave to plant a minimum of 3,140 trees to offset the carbon emissions of the event”.

“But we will not stop at 3,140 trees. We will plant at least 6,000 trees to ensure that we do not add carbon gases that will heat up the planet”, emphasized Perlas. “In addition, we will encourage all Festival participants to do their small share of carbon saving and offsetting practices. We will track participant commitments and report it in the Liwanag website (www.liwanagworldfest.net). In this way, we will walk our talk”, concluded Perlas.

“To achieve this, we will mobilize our more than 80 volunteers as well as students from the various colleges and universities of Davao City”, explained Maya Vandenbroeck, Liwanag Head for Volunteers.

Mission is organizing the Liwanag World Festival with the support of its major partners, Lifebank Foundation, the Government of Davao City, and ABS-CBN. World- class leaders, from abroad and the Philippines, will take a systemic look at the challenges facing humanity and the country and describe innovative practices that solve these challenges for the good of society and the ecology.

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