Filipino concern for the environment | Inquirer Opinion

Filipino concern for the environment

Learning about Filipino attitudes on many interesting topics, and comparing ourselves to others, have been much simplified by the annual cross-country surveys of the International Social Survey Program (, which have covered Role of Government, Social Networks, Social Inequality, Family and Changing Gender Roles, Work Orientations, Religion, National Identity, Environment, Citizenship, Leisure Time and Sports, and Health and Health Care.

With themes periodically replicated, there have been 35 ISSP surveys during 1985-2019. The ISSP survey data for all countries—including the Philippines from 1991 to the present—are available online to anyone for free. It is a great library of first-class social survey information for the world to use.


This column deals with Environment only to demonstrate the usefulness of the ISSP archive, or library, of data. It’s not a substitute for reading the library books; those studying a topic should use the library and read for themselves the books they need.

Selected findings of the 2010 ISSP survey on Environment:


Filipinos have as much concern for the environment (+48 on a scale of -100 to +100), as other peoples of the world (+40 for the 32 countries surveyed in 2010; I call this “others” even though the 32 include the Philippines). The number is the percentage of people relatively concerned minus the percentage relatively unconcerned about the environment.

Filipinos prioritize the country’s environmental problems as follows: 1. Air pollution, 2. Climate change, 3. Using up all our natural resources, 4. Domestic waste disposal, 5. Water shortage, 6. Water pollution, 7. Nuclear waste, 8. Chemicals and pesticides, and 9. Genetically modified foods. The 32 ISSP countries rank them in a slightly different order: 1, 2, 6, 3, 8, 5, 4, 7, and 9.

Filipinos are slightly positive (+4) about knowing the solutions to environmental problems, whereas other peoples are unsure of what to do (-17 for the

32 countries). The number is the percentage saying they know much, minus the percentage saying they know little, about the solutions.

Filipinos are relatively confident (+39) that science will solve environmental problems without changing their way of life, whereas others expect the solutions to cause changes in their lives (-12). The number is the percentage that agree with the proposition minus the percentage that disagree with it; it is a “net agreement.”

Filipinos predominantly think (+39) the environment gets too much attention relative to economic problems, but others are divided (-1). The numbers are net agreements.

Filipinos agree (+41) that human progress is achievable without harming the environment, whereas others are neutral (-3) on this.


Filipinos agree (+21) that economic growth always harms the environment, while others somewhat disagree (-7) on this.

I purposely cited some instances where we Filipinos differ from others, in the belief that knowing the differences leads to better understanding of ourselves.

The above attitudes are surely affected by the sophistication of Filipinos on environmental matters. Whenever these issues appear inappropriate or unrealistic to environmental experts, they pose a challenge to the scientific community to upgrade the level of education about the environmental situation in the Philippines.

Contact [email protected] This piece was the subject of my talk at the National Academy of Science and Technology’s forum on “Food Security, Environment and Political Economy,”

Hotel Jen, Pasay City, 5/16/19.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: concern, environment, Filipino, Mahar Mangahas, Social Climate, survey
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2021 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.