Baguio City has launched its Roadmap for Air Quality Communication to boost its efforts and capacity in air quality communication, the result of a set of two workshops to develop the Roadmap in Baguio City to support the BreatheLife member’s air quality improvement efforts.
Communications is often overlooked or left to the end of a technical policy process, but increasingly, it is being recognized as an essential part of solving problems of the global commons— problems in which everyone is affected and everyone bears some degree of responsibility.
Baguio City, dubbed the Philippines’ Summer Capital, certainly sees good communication as crucial to maintaining good air quality— a near-universal global commons challenge— before it becomes a problem.
“Air quality communication, as an essential component of a city’s air quality management system, is important in raising awareness, changing public attitudes, and promoting environmentally friendly behaviors,” explained Head of City Health Services Office, Dr. Rowena Galpo.
She spoke to Clean Air Asia at the two workshops, which rounded out a year-long series of policy-enhancing workshops in the Philippines jointly organized by city and Clean Air Asia.
This last set of two stakeholder engagement workshops sought to understand the status, needs and opportunities for improving air quality communication in Baguio, eliciting information and input from city officials and a broad range of stakeholders that fed into the development of the roadmap.
“Through the Roadmap for Air Quality Communication, we hope to generate progressive changes in the behavior of the community and policymakers. The ill effects of unclean air must be conveyed to raise awareness, and more importantly drive individuals and the community to do their share in reducing air pollution,” said Dr. Galpo.
“We would like Baguio City to have cleaner air and a healthier environment through a people-centered approach,” she added.
The first workshop on air quality communications sought to engage stakeholders in developing the roadmap to strengthen air quality communication.
Representatives from the city environment, health, public information, planning, engineering and mayor offices, as well as those from the police, regional environmental agency, local university and public transport group attended.
Through it, Baguio City officials and Clean Air Asia hoped to understand the status of air quality communication in the city, in terms of the kind of information is made available to stakeholders and the public, the kinds of programs and activities are conducted, and the level of public awareness and involvement on air quality issues.
Apart from appreciating the role of communication in air quality management, enabled participants to provide insights on opportunities for improving communication by: clarifying stakeholder roles, formulating a strategy that everyone could contribute to, facilitating air quality data access and application, and building capacity to better equip key stakeholders in fulfilling their mandates and responsibilities.
Clean Air Asia was then tasked to develop the draft Roadmap for Air Quality Communication based on take stakeholder inputs, which would be presented to the stakeholders for their review and feedback.
The subsequent workshop was a follow-up consultation meeting involving a smaller group made up of key stakeholders on air quality communications in the city: Baguio City Environment and Parks Management Office, Baguio City Health Services Office and Baguio City Public Information Office.
The group’s tasks were to identify key issue(s) to be addressed through the communications plan as well as the stakeholders who needed to be engaged and the strategies required for the plan to work, and to present and elaborate on the components of the plan.
Discussions unveiled elements needed for the roadmap to be useful and to support the city’s priorities.
“The group found that to strengthen air quality management through communication, it would be necessary to start defining a system so that data can be used to inform policymakers and the public about the state of air quality and its impacts on different facets of life, including public health,” said Head of the City Environment and Parks Management Office, Atty. Rhenan Diwas.
The participants also recommended developing communication strategies to support the city’s efforts in addressing a main emission source – transport – by rallying for stakeholder support, cooperation and commitment.
These communication strategies, it said, could first focus on the decongestion of the City Business District, as the city’s tourist, cultural and commercial heart.
Various measures such as parking management, sidewalk reclamation, having a complete streets policy and traffic flow management are already being implemented by the city.
The roadmap focuses on the period of 2020-2021, and coincides with the Philippine administrative cycle.
Read the roadmap here: Roadmap for Air Quality Communication in Baguio City (July 2020)
Banner photo by J42K/CC BY 2.0