Program Addresses the Urgency and Challenge of Climate Adaptation

The Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives Organizing and Networking (MISSION) organizers of the Liwanag World Festival on Creativity and Sustainability held the country’s first major gathering to discuss carbon neutrality. Liwanag, a unique world festival and the first of its kind in the Philippines, kicked off on January 29th and continued until February 2nd, 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 added.

In addition, Liwanag organizers stressed that climate adaptation goes beyond knowledge of weather and climate patterns.  It includes converging this wisdom onto how we structure our economic, how we govern ourselves, how we consume, and whether or not our lifestyle is climate friendly. “This is the reason why Liwanag’s Program is designed to encourage a deeper and more systemic approach to societal challenges like climate change,” explained Shiela R. Castillo-Tiangco, climate change specialist with Liwanag and presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

The recent floods that have swept through Davao City, the venue of the Liwanag World Festival, underscored the urgency for climate change adaptation as advocated by the organizers of Liwanag. “Abnormal rains pouningd 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, gradually heating the planet. With global warming comes 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, by methods that include something as simple as planting trees.

MISSION asked Atty. Joey Felizarta, OIC, of the Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office, to do a carbon footprint audit 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 will have 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 ( 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 discuss the innovative practices that will solve these challenges for the good of society and our ecology.

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