Anika Molesworth was the 2015 Australian Young Farmer of the Year and represented young farmers at the COP21 climate conference. She helps manage her family’s sheep station near Broken Hill and is a strong advocate for greater adoption of renewable energies in agriculture. She runs the blog Climate Wise Agriculture to promote climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
She worked in Laos with farmers researching climate change resilience by reducing production risk for her Master of Sustainable Agriculture thesis. She is also keenly interested in conservation of natural and built heritage on farming properties and manages the International National Trusts Organisation Sustainable Farms Programme.
Anika recently visited the Philippines. She shares her views with Catherina.
A recent visit to the Philippines reinforced to me the challenges that rural poor in Asia face and the urgency for improvement. Many countries in Asia belong to the group of Least Developed Countries. Farmers in these regions suffer from insufficient resources – such as finance, labour, fertilisers, water, land and professional services – and are often subject to social and political inequality and instability.
I was lucky to be part of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps held in Manila. The Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore, works to catalyse global action by bringing together people from all over the world with the vision and energy to tackle the greatest threat to our planet – climate change. Led by Mr Gore himself, the training event provided attendees with the knowledge and tools to build public awareness of climate change and inspire activity to solve it. Local and international leaders and experts in their fields shared their ideas and strategies at the latest Leadership Corps. The workshop focused on building the capacity of the newest Climate Leaders, including proficiencies for effective climate change action.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps has trained thousands of Climate Leaders from 135 countries to become effective agents of change within their communities and nations. The March 2016 Philippines training was particularly important as the world prepares to implement the Paris Agreement with ratification on April 22 in New York.
Given that two thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia, climate change poses serious threats to efforts for development, poverty reduction and environmental protection. The Philippines is one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate disasters. With more than 7,100 islands and an estimated 36,298 kilometers of coastline, more than 60% of the Filipino population resides within the coastal zone. Dangers include food and fresh water security, damage to infrastructure and displacement due to sea-level rise.
Even if we stop emitting carbon immediately the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise for decades as the climate seeks a new equilibrium. It is putting the whole planet under pressure and the first to feel its effects are the people and places where even a small change has a big difference. Many of the rural poor do not have the adaptive capacity to cope with climate impacts. One stoke of bad luck – a flood, drought, pest outbreak or illness – and they risk slipping further into poverty and instability.
Our window of opportunity is small, not only because Greenhouse Gases are accumulating at dangerous levels, but the problem is becoming increasingly global. Just what climate change will mean for the world will depend on just how serious we become at fighting it.
With an innate understanding of the acute impacts of climate change, the Philippines is one of the world's strongest voices leading the global movement, combatting the problem and ultimately setting an example in adapting to climate change. The nation is acting with urgency and commitment — passing legislation, promoting the use of renewable energy and focusing on country-wide conservation. Considered a moral leader on the issue, the Philippines has been calling for swift and ambitious action for many years. It is now time for all countries to work together to tackle this challenge in the quickest and most effective manner.
Confronting the threat posed by climate change in Asia requires policies and actions encompassing all levels – local, regional, national and international. To identify opportunities, decision-makers need access to the best available information, research and advice. They need strong and lasting investment and support structures, and to leverage capacity and capabilities through collaborations and partnerships. With the appropriate strategies and a combined global effort, the future of rural communities in Asia will be much brighter.
View previous interviews with Anika here