By Rinzen D. Gonzales
November 29, 2021 – There will never be positive change without the collective action of the youth.
This message is emphasized during the “YOUth Can! Online Talk Show,” held on the second day of the 5th National Climate Change Conference (NCCC), November 20, 2021. This event is conducted virtually and livestreamed at the Department of Education’s official Facebook page.
In partnership with Save the Children Philippines (SCP) and Plan International, the talk show aims to inspire the younger generation of Filipinos to participate in climate change adaptation and mitigation in their local communities.
This year’s NCCC was held in celebration of Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week with the theme, “Reinforcing the Youth’s Role in Stewardship of Biodiversity for Climate Stability.”
In line with the theme, young climate advocates Divine Dugan from the Division of Sta. Rosa, Laguna; Sarah Gates of Save the Children; Denniel Rommel from the Division of Valenzuela City; and Drieynne Sevilla from the Division of Mabalacat City hosted the two-hour online talk show.
These young hosts interviewed speakers from different institutions respected in their fields, as well as fellow youth advocates for child rights and climate action in their respective communities.
Hearing the Professionals
Ronilda Co, Director IV of the Department of Education – Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DepEd DRRMS) stressed how important it is for the youth to participate in different programs and campaigns that promote environmental awareness.
“There is no little endeavor and no tiny voices in the conversation of what we can do for our society and communities,” said Co in Filipino.
Also interviewed in the talk show were Crisnobel Cruz, Country Program Manager of Disaster Resilience in Plan Philippines, and Marlon Mataguina, Program Manager – Risk Reduction and Resilience in Education and Governance of SCP.
Students from different parts of the country asked questions to the speakers regarding common to complex questions on climate change and what they can do to help in their ways.
Moreover, Cruz shared the impacts of climate change in the Philippines and that being a tropical country, rising temperatures are felt more even during the Christmas season. He warned that the increase in temperatures might result in rising sea levels, which may cause certain cities in the Philippines to be completely submerged in water.
“May isang pag-aaral na ginawa ang isang institution sa Amerika na nagsasabing pagdating ng 2050, may ilang mga cities dito sa Pilipinas ang maaaring lumubog,” said Cruz.
Meanwhile, the climate crisis is also a child rights crisis, according to Mataguina. He shared that the youth contribute the least, yet are the ones taking the brunt of it. Children are more likely to die from extreme weather events. Their education is affected, and some engage in child labor, which further increases existing problems and inequalities in the country.
Together, the three of them emphasized that participating in spreading awareness, adopting sustainable practices at home, and the engagement of youth in climate action, are essential in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“Dito natin makikita ang ugnayan ng lahat. Ang mangyayari sa kalikasan ay may epekto sa mangyayari sa atin,” shared Co.
A Climate Peer Review
The YOUth Can! Online Talk Show also featured young environmental advocates who shared their climate action stories in their communities.
Elaine Vergara, a campus journalist from the Division of Mabalacat City, and Chad Verana, a young climate action advocate hailing from Eastern Samar, were interviewed about what they do to spark change at their young age.
Vergara shared his journey as an alumnus of The Green Beat Initiative, a national seminar that teaches students and teachers in writing climate action stories, and how it opened her eyes to the current state of our environment.
“I really saw what was happening around me, around our environment. It molded me, inspired me, and shaped me to become the person I am right now,” said Vergara.
Meanwhile, Verana shared social activities like coastal clean-ups and clean-up drives, inspired him to be more proactive. The worsening quality of our environment also fueled his desire for change.
Both of them also agreed that children should not be affected by naysayers. The youth should speak out and participate in campaigns and programs.
“The most common issue is that we detach children in decision making, which leads to unheard voices, unheard suggestions, and solutions that the youth may provide,” said Verana.
They urged their fellow peers to act now to collaborate and find solutions to existing problems affecting the world, especially the Philippines.