By Amabelle Franchesca C. Boncato
November 29, 2021 – To elevate the discussions on the impacts of climate change and human actions on biodiversity, the Department of Education (DepEd) launched the 5th National Climate Change Conference.
Through the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS), the event aired via live stream on the DepEd Philippines Facebook page last November 19, 2021, with the theme “Reinforcing the Youth’s Role on Stewardship of Biodiversity for Climate Stability.”
The activity helped the participants to have a deeper appreciation of the country’s vast biodiversity and create solutions to the environmental problems experienced today.
Starting with an overview of the week-long event, Director IV of DRRMS Ronilda R. Co discussed the activities conducted during the following days. She also highlighted the importance of the youth’s participation in making solutions to combat climate change.
“Children will be our greatest companions in this battle. They are great learners and can be the greatest assets of society on climate action. Children have the best voices, which need to be heard, in fighting against climate change,” said Co.
After a quick run-through of the activities, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones delivered her welcome message for this year’s NCCC, emphasizing the importance of having discussions centered on biodiversity as it plays a significant role in human lives.
Briones also mentioned that DepEd is exerting efforts to reduce their dependence on printed modules by shifting to technology to deliver education without cutting down trees which trigger floods, natural disasters, and biodiversity loss.
“We have to translate our commitments into policies, and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. So, at great risk, despite so many criticisms, we are deliberately making a pivot toward the use of technology for our studies instead of depending totally on printed modules,” she said.
According to her, it is time for everybody to work together and combine all their efforts to respond to climate change and protect the environment because it provides the necessities for people to live.
“Let us now make joint efforts to build a community, to fight, not only fight through conferences and curriculum but really in policies on education so that we’ll be able to keep in control this terrible punishment of climate change,” Briones added.
Following Briones, Climate Change Commission (CCC) Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director Secretary Emmanuel M. De Guzman explained the current state of the Philippines regarding its biodiversity and the impacts of climate change in his speech.
De Guzman stated that through the years, the vast biodiversity of the country is slowly shrinking, and large numbers of species are now at risk of extinction due to climate change effects and human activities.
In his speech, he explained that environmental degradation leads to habitat loss of many species and a rise in global temperatures. That’s why many species will not be able to adapt to these changes.
He also pointed out how this problem can significantly affect humans, saying that “since we depend on plants and animals, our natural ecosystems for livelihood and sustenance were all directly affected as well.”
In addressing the issue, De Guzman mentioned that the world community adopted three important interlocking agreements, including the sustainable development goals that cover ecosystems and biodiversity protection.
“All nations have been called upon to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, stop the loss of biodiversity, and take urgent action to combat climate change, and reduce disaster risks for a more resilient and sustainable future for all,” said De Guzman.
He also reminded that even though the government is ensuring biodiversity protection and making efforts to adapt to the changing climate, it is still important that all stakeholders have an active involvement in this battle against environmental crises.
De Guzman then emphasized the importance of education during these times to establish a higher level of environmental awareness, resilience, sustainability, and to promote a healthy lifestyle and attitude for all – to preserve life on earth and protect nature.
“We are confronted with protecting our country’s unique but endangered biodiversity. Pursuing a kind of development with genuine regard for our natural resources has never been more important than today. To keep our planet healthy, livable, and sustainable, we must all work together,” De Guzman stated.
Positive that the 5th NCCC will achieve its goals, De Guzman ended his message by encouraging everybody to act against the prevailing environmental threats and hoped that the week-long conference will motivate the youth to be the “forerunners of change.”
Apart from the speeches by Co, Briones, and De Guzman, several learners, teachers, and personnel firmly offered pledges of helping the environment as they committed to taking action to promote biodiversity conservation and climate stability.