Greeneration Summit: Tapping the bayanihan spirit of the youth
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATED) More than a thousand students and youth leaders gathered on Monday, November 25, at the Mall of Asia SMX to learn about climate change and its impact on the planet.
Organized by the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the first day of the Greeneration Summit: A National Gathering for Youth Empowerment on Climate Change was a gathering for the youth to discuss different initiatives that they can do to help mitigate the impact of climate change.
CCC Secretary Lucille Sering said climate change is a global issue of utmost importance especially because of the Philippines’ geographic location.
“The Philippines is a Mecca of disasters. The only thing we don’t have is a winter storm...We can no longer deny climate change. Science is there to prove its certainty. We have to reverse and prevent the adverse effects of climate change,” Sering told the audience of mostly college students.
“Greeneration is a youth empowerment...The fact that you’re here means you’ve already contributed to the solution. What you know will help you...It’s your future,” Sering added.
WATCH: Day 1 (November 25) of the Greeneration Summit:
Sering also said local government units (LGUs) have the responsibility to implement climate change policies and laws that are passed by the national government. Local government chiefs with successful climate change and disaster mitigation models presented their initiatives and become Climate Change ambassadors.
San Vicente, Palawan mayor Pie Alvarez talked about how her municipality plans to take care of its virgin white beaches while promoting entrepreneurship.
“We didn’t only give housing. We gave them livelihood opportunities...The GK Resort Community initiative is a revenue generating system,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez credited the Commission for helping San Vicente build its capacity to respond to climate change.
Meanwhile, Camarines Sur governor Miguel Villafuerte also discussed El Verde, a movement started by the CamSur provincial government in 2012 to protect the environment through financial incentives.
In the El Verde project, students are given scholarships for carrying out the local government’s environmental programs.
“For every 2,500 trees planted, Camarines Sur supports 10 indigent scholars...Every student who recycles paper are given free pencils and other school supplies,” the young governor said.
Villafuerte boasted that Camarines Sur was able to plant 15,346,632 trees as of 2013. The province aims to plant 40 million trees by 2020, Villafuerte said.
10 eco-friendly tips
Celebrity Bianca Gonzalez, who was also named a Climate Change ambassador by the CCC, gave 10 small things that students and the youth can do to help save the environment.
These are the following:
- Try to use less plastic. Use eco-bags and baskets.
- Use less paper.
- Use a 'tabo' (dipper) to conserve water.
- Unplugand switch off.
- Invest in LED and converters.
- Use carpool.
- Support mother Earth-loving products.
- Clean your coolers to save energy.
- Read up. Beware.
Gonzalez emphasized the need for collective action to battle the effects of climate change.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better," Gonzalez concluded her presentation citing a quote from Dr. Seuss.
New form of ‘Bayanihan’
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa wrapped up the day's talks with a discussion of how crowd sourcing can be used for education and preparedness for disasters. Ressa also launched the Project Agos microsite, in partnership with the CCC.
Project Agos is an online portal for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. The microsite integrates crowdsourcing, mapping, and social media in a unified information platform that will bridge disaster preparedness and response initiatives of the government, civil society, and the citizens.
Ressa emphasized the power that social media and crowdsourcing gives to people regardless of their age. She called it a new form of bayanihan, the Filipino trait of helping each other out.
“Your generation can do things my generation only used to dream about...Crowdsourcing is all about taking one small step, and you can do it while sitting on your chair,” Ressa told the young audience.
Ressa concluded,“This is Project Agos. It is our collective prayer and you (youth) are a huge part of this.”
Opportunity and resiliency
Sering said climate change offers opportunities for economic growth if its effects are taken into consideration in making projects and business ventures.
“Did we try looking at weather as a potential cause of why we’re poor? Or we were not harnessing enough of our resources in the Eastern seaboard? Or maybe, there’s just too many people living on that side and we’re putting them on harm’s way?” she said.
Sering added, “What we don’t know is that climate change tied with growth can offer more opportunities for our country especially now that the world is moving towards a clean and green environment.”
She noted, however, that despite the vulnerability of the Philippines to disasters, Filipinos remain very resilient people as proven by the many stories of resiliency in past typhoons and in the recent devastation in Eastern Visayas.
The Greeneration Summit is part of the CCC’s celebration of the Climate Change Awareness Week running from November 18 to 25. Catch the livestream of Day 2 on Rappler.
Missed the conference? You can read about what happened in Rappler's blog:
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