Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that public awareness on climate change should now level up to knowledge that can be used to respond to its threats.

Paje made the statement as officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) led by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, Jr.  met on Wednesday to assess the progress of the government’s latest advocacy campaign for climate change.

Under the theme, “Nagbabago na ang panahon. Panahon na para magbago,” the campaign was launched in March in a bid to increase public awareness on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and disaster risk reduction.

Paje acknowledged the hard work of the two agencies’ regional offices and Secretary Coloma in conducting an aggressive information campaign on climate change, but urged the campaign next year to focus on answering the question, “So what?”

He said that with climate change being accepted as the new normal, “there may be no more need to fight it, but learn how to live with it.”

From making the public aware on the gravity and urgency of the threats from climate change, Paje said the next focus of the campaign should be on educating the public on basic tools that they could use to respond to disasters.

He cited the ability to read maps and devices with global positioning system (GPS) as two of such tools.

“These tools are key to disaster mitigation, hazard prevention, and disaster response. What use would be information such as the geohazard maps we produce if people do not know how to read them?” he said.

The environment chief said government must focus on efforts to “compel the public to learn how to read maps or at least understand directions so that they know how to act in times of disaster.”

The climate change advocacy campaign is simultaneously implemented in 16 regions across the country, exhibiting the government’s serious commitment to protect the environment by addressing climate change and its imminent threat.

During the National Conference on Climate Change Advocacy Campaign held at the DENR’s main office in Quezon City, information officers and climate change focal persons of all DENR and PIA regional offices nationwide gave updates on the progress of the campaign.