August 1, 2022
Stories For A Better Reality is a partnership between the Climate Change Commission and the Youth Cluster of The Climate Reality Project Philippines, with support from the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Youth Commission, and Kids for Kids and Wavefarers.
“Ang mga kabataan ay parte ng komunidad at lahat ng sakop ng isang komunidad ay dapat nakikilahok. Habang bata pa, dapat ay maisapuso ng mga bata at maging ugali nila ang mga tamang gawi ukol sa climate change at disaster risk reduction,” Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco Lagmay, Executive Director of the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI), said during the webcast.
Capacitating and engaging youth on DRRM and climate action
Acknowledging the significance of youth engagement in formulating more relevant programs to address their needs for survival, development, and protection, Kamille Ruiz shared that United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been involved on institutionalizing the participation of children and youth in resilience building.
Ruiz is a Disaster Risk Reduction Programme Officer at UNICEF Philippines and is involved in the implementation of the Kabataang Resilient Program to capacitate the youth on DRRM. Its major components include documentation and promotion of youth-centered initiatives, peer learning on climate action and DRRM, development of knowledge products on disaster and climate programs for local implementers, and conduct of inclusive consultations with the children and youth.
“We have less capacity to act during disasters. We are less informed on the effects of the disasters,” Jayson Genotiva, one of the youth leaders of the Kabataang Resilient Program, said.
Chelzy Anne Binondo, another youth leader of the Kabataang Resilient Program, agreed with Genotiva but added, “When children are capacitated and given chance to participate, our micro efforts may yield greater impacts on the community.”
As beneficiaries of UNICEF’s training programs, Binondo and Genotiva believed that engaging more youth should start and thrive with creative strategies and platforms.
Ruiz encouraged youth to maximize available spaces while communicating their needs, speaking about their experiences, and presenting their ideas.
For Ma. Louisen Roxas, Project and Partnership Manager of MapaKalamidad.ph, the youth have the number, energy, and resourcefulness to advance and expand their capacities on DRR and stewardship of the planet.
MapaKalamidad.ph is a free web-based and open-source platform that harnesses the power of social media during emergency events to gather real-time and on-the-ground updates.
While aiming to mobilize netizens to report and inform communities about real-time disasters, MapaKalamidad.ph hosted the Disaster Risk Reduction Youth Ambassador Program to establish a network of young Filipino leaders focusing on community-based disaster risk reduction. It has also provided microgrants to youth-led disaster awareness and preparedness activities, such as first-aid training and SOS Kit distribution, mapping of disaster-related facilities, and improvement of disaster response plans.
“As one of the young advocates, we can be more and do more,” Binondo said. She underscored the need for safe spaces where the youth could freely elevate their concerns and claim their agency in resilience building.
Integrating youth-centered initiatives in national programs
“Climate change is already unfolding its impacts. Youth are at the forefront of capacities. You have a different voice. It matters that the particularity of your voice is being maximized sa mga spaces,” Director Ronilda Co of the DepEd’s DRRM Service said while encouraging the youth to channel their voices into a meaningful action that will benefit the greater good.
The national government, according to Co, is undertaking efforts to mainstream youth participation in DRRM programs, projects, and activities.
For one, DepEd launched The Green Beat Initiative which delivers online environmental journalism training for campus journalists and school paper advisers. The agency also has the Student-Led School Watching and Hazard Mapping where students are equipped with information and skills necessary for addressing the impact of hazards.
These initiatives highlight the significance of including youth in co-creating solutions relevant to climate change and DRRM.