Addressing a group of journalists during a workshop in Bangkok, Ali Raza Rizvi, Asia head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s regional climate change and resilience programme, noted that many Asian countries have become ‘disaster friendly’.
Describing a region prone to more frequent and deadly natural disasters, Rizvi lamented that, despite these regular climate catastrophes, knowledge and awareness on climate change and extreme weather events among ordinary people remains low at worst and peripheral at best.
The IUCN expert said that the subject remained outside the boundaries of the average person’s daily discourse, despite Asia feeling the bite of changing climate patterns with increasing regularity.
“We need to bring climate change into the mainstream; it is still looked at (by most people) as a subject that only scientists are talking about,” he told IPS.
It has been two decades since the first major United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and 10 years since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, but awareness on climate change remains low among populations in countries like Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
The IUCN expert told IPS that, in these countries, there is a wide gap between scientific discourse on global warming and awareness among the worst affected populations.
With the Rio+20 Earth Summit, scheduled to be held in the 1992 host country Brazil from Jun.20-22, inching closer, experts say the need to raise public awareness on the state of the planet’s climate is more urgent than ever.