Social Science experts converse on bolstering climate action

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From top row, left to right: Prof. Flordeliz Abanto, Mr. Jim Duran, Dr. Emmanuel Luna, Dr. Rosali Hall, Dr. Maria Helen Dayo, Dr. Oliver Sta. Ana, Atty. Josine Alexandra Gamboa, Dr. Rodel Lasco, and Dr. Lourdes Portus.

Continuing the initial brainstorming with social scientists last October 2020, which generated several questions and concerns on climate change from the perspective of the social sciences, the Oscar M. Lopez Center, together with the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC), held The Climate Dialogues: Bolstering Climate Action with Social Science last January 27, 2021 via Zoom. 

The event is part of the endeavors taken by the Center to grow its understanding of the social facets of climate change, recognizing the critical role of social sciences in providing a deeper understanding of the social and behavioral dynamics of climate action. 

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Lourdes Portus, executive director of the PSSC, underscored that the social sciences matter in the climate change discourse as it impacts people and communities. The conversations, Dr. Portus said, sought to surface insights to fortify data and identify evidence-based information that will feed into plans of actions relating to the environment.

Alfi Lorenz Cura, research associate of the Center, provided an overview of the program, explaining that social science experts were invited to converse about the disciplines that can enrich understanding of the interaction of human and natural systems in the context of climate change. The experts were tasked to answer the question: How can the social sciences help and contribute to solving climate change?

Prof. Flordeliz Abanto, a core member of the Philippine Academic Society for Climate and Disaster Resilience, moderated three conversations that featured representatives from different fields; Prof. Rosalie Arcala Hall (Political Science), Dr. Helen Dayo (Anthropology), Mr. Jim Duran (Communication), Atty. Josine Alexandra Gamboa (Law), Dr. Emmanuel Luna (Community Development),  and Dr. Oliver Sta. Ana (Psychology). Dr. Rene Ofreneo (Labor / Industrial Relations) served as reactor to all three conversations.

The experts surfaced insights on the social science perspectives that can help understand the human-nature interaction, how it can work with other disciplines, and how it can shape climate discourse and spur action.

The first conversation featured Dr. Dayo, Mr. Duran, Dr. Hall, and Dr. Sta. Ana, who provided a variety of concepts, theories, and insights in understanding and addressing the climate issue. 

Dr. Dayo and Dr. Sta. Ana were later joined by Atty. Gamboa and Dr. Luna during the second conversation, which looked at how the social sciences, as well as other disciplines, can work together. The experts agreed that the integration of social science aspects into climate change discourse through its diverse focus and applications establishes a system of information that can offer a deeper understanding of the social dimensions of climate change. 

The third conversation, which featured Mr. Duran, Atty. Gamboa, and Dr. Hall, tackled ways to establish or institutionalize knowledge networks, capacity building and interdisciplinary co-production to help shape the climate discourse and spur action. The experts pointed out that interdisciplinary research is a preferred approach and dominant method for addressing climate change. They also agreed that political, behavioral, and informational factors present challenges and barriers to action.

The three conversations surfaced that stakeholder engagement, capacity building, knowledge platform or tools, and co-production are key elements to increase awareness and promote climate action.

Closing the event, Dr. Rodel Lasco, executive director of the Center, emphasized that the changing climate must be viewed from the human perspective, therefore taking into account who the most vulnerable are as well as those who are responsible and can act. 

The OML Center and PSSC are undertaking content analysis of the conversations, the results of which shall be released at a later time.

Read about the initial brainstorming session with social scientists last year via our website.