September 7, 2022
This was emphasized by during the fourth episode of the climate change webcast Stories for a Better Reality entitled “ASEAN Youth in Climate Action and Disaster Resilience: What’s Next?”
Hosted by the National Youth Commission (NYC) with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and The Climate Reality Project Philippines, the webcast recently delved into the critical role of SK councils in strengthening local policies on climate change and DRRM.
“With proper knowledge and proper opportunity, the youth can be a positive force for development. The youth are not just passive recipients of the programs. The youth are stakeholders, the youth are development partners,” Sharmaine Lizada, Director General of GREENducation, said during the webcast.
Youth leader Jan Saavadera, SK Federation President in the municipality of Alangalang, Leyte, agreed, noting that the youth leaders should be at the forefront of the fight for climate and environmental justice. “We need to prioritize the environment. Everything else won’t matter if we fail to protect the environment,” he said.
Saavedra said there is a need for SK leaders to recalibrate and realign the priority programs and budget allocation for climate change and DRRM in their respective Youth Development Plans and Annual Investment Plans.
Pebbles Ogang of YesPinoy Foundation, on the other hand, noted that the interlinked challenges of climate change, environmental degradation, and disaster risks require a massive movement. She talked about the #NOWPH campaign or the “Not on Our Watch Philippines” campaign that amplified the need to adopt the momentous global Paris Agreement in 2015.
“Through the leadership of young Filipinos and the cooperation of various sectors, more than 3.6 million Filipinos pledge for climate action,” Ogang recalled, adding that the movement led to the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management into government mechanisms and plans, including the Internal Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 and the Philippine Youth Development Plan.
“This is a reminder of the limitless possibility that young people can achieve once we put our mind, heart, and soul into it. This is a reminder of the power of working together towards one common goal. This is a reminder of our shared responsibility and capacity to create an impactful difference in our society and the ASEAN community,” Ogang said.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND CONVERGENCE BUILDING
For Ogang, sustaining the momentum for climate and environmental action starts with activating, empowering, equipping, and working with youth organizations in the country. She emphasized that environmental activities shall embrace inclusivity and diversity of communities.
Saavadera agreed with Ogang, adding that engaging local communities is vital in executing environmental movements as they are the foremost partners in addressing climate change.
Meanwhile, SK Chairperson Anton Nasungan of Samoki, Mountain Province encouraged youth leaders and organizations to navigate partnerships with government agencies, local academic institutions, and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices.