The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), in partnership with The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Foundation, Inc., conducted the first installment of the webinar series on climate change entitled “Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change on Food Security and Nutrition, and Health” on 21 May 2021 via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Climate Change and Health

Dr. Carlos Primero D. Gundran, assistant professor at the University of the Philippines Manila, discussed the relationship between climate change and health. Dr. Gundran reiterated the importance of reducing greenhouse gases by planting trees and maintaining a low-carbon footprint lifestyle, preventing the transmission of diseases by adhering to good hygiene practices, and lastly, improving household sanitation and proper waste management system.

Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral, chair of the National Implementation Team for Reproductive Health Law, Department of Health, appeals to health leaders to develop a more global vision of environmental health. She said that “the planet is our patient too” and that the health sector must bond together to address the climate crisis to protect the people.

Climate Change and Food Security

Academician Glenn B. Gregorio, member, NAST PHL Agricultural Sciences Division and professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, presented the effect of climate change on food security and encouraged everyone to participate in addressing climate change effects on food security. Acd. Gregorio’s key points include (1) contend with climate change in our food systems, (2) transform rice farms to be more climate change resilient, and (3) treat agriculture as business and industry and transform farmers to become “trans-farmers”.

Dr. Ma. Regina Justina E. Estuar, full professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, stressed the urgency of addressing food security by thinking and planning. She mentioned that inclusivity, accessibility, and interconnectivity are key factors in transforming the current food system.

Climate Change and Nutrition

Dr. Maria Sofia V. Amarra, associate professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, presented the process of how environmental stressors and climate change influence nutrition. Dr. Amarra suggested increasing the intake of non-digestible carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, reducing the intake of sugar, artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened foods and processed foods, and making natural and minimally processed foods the basis of everyone’s diet.

Dr. Geraldine T. Zamora, internist and rheumatologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, mentioned the association of climate change with COVID-19 as disturbances in the gut microbiota, which exacerbates the severity of the cytokine storm induced by the virus. The cytokines are being targeted during the management of patients with severe or critical COVID-19 signs. She also highlighted action points that will help citizens understand the impacts of climate change and ended her reaction by encouraging people to do something to reverse these effects.The webinar series was formulated by the NAST Task Force on Climate Change headed by Acd. Rex Victor Cruz and Acd. Juan Pulhin.

The activity generally aims to educate the public on climate change-related issues and Science Technology and Innovation-driven adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction as well as distill recommendations towards pursuing a climate-resilient development pathways for the Philippines. The next webinar on Climate Change and Ecosystems will be held on September 2021. (Larrisse O. Lipit – NAST PHL)

NAST Philippines is an attached agency to the Department of Science and Technology mandated by law to advise the President and the Cabinet on matters related to S&T.