Choose candidates with environmental agenda – youth leaders
MANILA, Philippines – In a unity declaration protest held on Saturday, April 13, in Bacolod City, youth leaders urged the public to be on the lookout for national and local candidates' environmental platforms.
They stressed that the youth must choose candidates who are for the protection of the environment – by opposing the use of coal energy and other environmentally destructive development projects, and pushing for a ban on the use and production of single-use plastic, among others.
These candidates can also show their dedication to saving the environment by holding accountable those companies that extract resources, use huge amounts of energy, and pose harm to surrounding communities.
“If they want the youth on their side, they must be on ours. And if they stand for the rapers of our environment, then they do not have our support,” Rara Ada of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice said.
Climate justice education
Through the unity declaration protest, youth leaders also demanded that climate and ecological justice education be introduced in schools as part of a holistic education.
"The youth agree that the educational system should be inclusive of climate change and ecological justice in its curriculum, especially in the younger students. The youth will inherit the environment left behind by the previous generations, and they should have a say in how it is cared for," Jean Paul Amit of Youth for Sustainable Change told Rappler.
Krishna Ariola of Linghod and Youth for Climate Hope explained the role that academic institutions play in helping address climate change, especially with the current political landscape.
"Environmental issues aren't household conversations. The academic sector is a good venue to mainstream these discussions, which should eventually be embodied in our political decisions," said Ariola.
Youth's declaration and challenge
The protest was part of the two-day National Ecological Justice Youth Summit held in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, the renewable energy capital of the Philippines.
Around 150 youth leaders in community, student groups, and religious organizations from Luzon, Visayas, and MIndanao took part in the summit to discuss possible interventions in pressing environmental issues, including issues affecting their respectives areas.
According to lawyer Avril de Torres of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, the “diversity of the participants shows that environmental consciousness is alive among the youth, and that they are ready to take on the challenges of the future.”
With the Philippines ranking third among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Ariola told Rappler that this pressing issue should be on top of every politician's agenda.
"Real solutions on environmental conservation and climate action need to be translated into legislation for more efficient, holistic, and sustainable implementation. Policies on climate concerns would ensure proper allocation of budget, manpower, and would enforce drastic system changes," Ariola said.
The summit comes in the wake of Youth for Climate Hope's protest in March, where Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr finally signed an Executive Order (EO) declaring Negros Occidental coal-free and a source of clean and renewable energy. – Rappler.com