Summer Institute on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

Excerpts from the Closing Remarks of CSC Director Alejandro N. Ciencia, Jr. 

Summer Institute Graduation Program

As we close our two-week activity, please allow me to congratulate you for completing the course.

As you probably know, our activity is part of a project funded by the United Nations World Food Programme, in coordination with the Knowledge and Training Resource Center (KTRC) of UP Baguio. The KTRC is our resource center on climate change and disaster preparedness and response.

You may ask, why is the World Food Programme interested in climate change? Climate change, alongside disasters, is a real threat to food security.  People die when they don’t get to eat. People die when climate change threatens the capacity of societies to produce sufficient amounts of food for their populations.

You may also ask, why should we be concerned?  We live in a disaster prone area.  Landslides and soil erosions, typhoons and monsoons, floods, even earthquakes… we are vulnerable to these risks.  That is why we need to be aware, informed, prepared and trained to respond to disasters.

When Yolanda struck Tacloban, I was distressed by the fact that lootings began a day after. It appears that people have not prepared for Yolanda.  Sometimes I think that we Filipinos do not have a culture of preparing for calamities and disasters. If that is so, we have a big problem.  It is a problem rooted in our beliefs, attitudes, and practices. In short, it is a problem that is rooted in culture.

We labelled our World Food Programme Project as “Change Starts Here.” For UP Baguio, it means that UP Baguio must first demonstrate that it can effect change within the campus before it can contribute to positive change outside.

Today, that label has a new meaning. “Change starts here” – with you, our teachers.  Change starts with teachers. Not parents. Not all parents teach their children.  Not all parents teach their children to be decent human beings, to love the environment, to look after other people.

If we want to change society, we need teachers who can guide our youth, equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to confront the challenges that they will face in the coming years. Climate change is one of those challenges. As teachers, you occupy a crucial position in society. The survival of our way of life depends on you.

I congratulate you and thank you for your participation.

Naimbag nga aldaw tayo amin.