Lost/Found in Translation

Isabella Ann Mendoza

Editor’s Note: ICSC in cooperation with the Climate Change Commission, Visayas State University’s Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies, and Action for Economic Reforms, organized a forum entitled “Shifting Financial Flows to Low Carbon Development in Eastern Visayas” in Tacloban City from 7-8 March 2019. Isabella Ann Mendoza, an ICSC climate policy analyst, writes about the forum below.

There was a massive download and exchange of knowledge and information yesterday in Tacloban City during the first day of the “Shifting Financial Flows to Low Carbon Development in Eastern Visayas” forum. The wealth of knowledge came from experts across various sectors from the academe, energy sector, government, and civil society.

Academics spoke on the science that communities need to start addressing in the wake of climate change, covering topics from slow onset climate events, renewable energy, and investment challenges and opportunities. They were later followed by energy providers, government officials and civil society representatives who detailed the processes and pathways available to Philippine localities – from the costs and benefits of investing in renewable energy in the energy mix to the economic implications of climate change, as well as financial opportunities and strategies we can use to set things in motion.

At the end of the day, through every discussion, one conclusion rang quite clear: There is a dire need to empower local government units.

The facts are undeniable and the avenues towards better, low carbon development are there. The main challenge is delivering and translating vital information to local communities. “These are the ideas that need to be understood at the local level if we want communities to become resilient [and] part of that is really an appreciation of the cost if they do not adapt,” as Dr. Tess Tabada, director of the Visayas State University’s Institute for Strategic Research and Development Studies, so very aptly put it.

As frontliners to the impacts of climate change, government leaders must be able to incorporate so much technical data into their development and investment plans. Processing all these data is something that we cannot always – and should not expect to – demand from local officials.

More than once, the forum’s participants called for more partnerships across sectors for policymakers, experts, and implementers to better help localities transform data into information, and in turn into sound climate action.

It is definitely no easy feat, and one that requires commitment from many actors. The beauty of it lies in the fact that we have seen that it is possible and it works. This is very evident in our work in local communities. Creating multi-stakeholder platforms have helped usher along progress in forming development plans for communities such as Guiuan, Eastern Samar; Coron, Palawan; and Bantayan Island, Cebu.

Ultimately, generated knowledge by the academe and policy frameworks from national government must not get lost in translation when it reaches the local level. We should be more conscious and deliberate in ensuring useful information finds its way to the people who need it and stand to benefit the most from it.