Eleventh Hour: The power of youth-led, community-based environmental initiatives

By Roxanne Kythe Fado


How do aspiring advocates truly connect with vulnerable communities and the marginalized within their huge environmental movement or campaign?

As a budding defender of human and environmental rights, I’ve always been envious of advocates who have been a part of significant and major movements. I’ve always thought that only this type of experience could fuel your credibility and passion for leadership. Relying only on my A-game, I became persistent in joining training, fora, and discussions to hone my skills as an earth warrior and establish my reputation as a fledging advocate of environmental justice.

However, as I continuously took part and engage in various training platforms, I realized that I have been selfish to just absorb the inputs and knowledge from them and never take the opportunity to share my own ideas and put them into action. This changed in 2019 when I became a member of a student council and began to envision projects that benefit not only the students but also to communities around me as well.

My most recent community initiative was a response to the #LetTheEarthBreathe movement.

The information drive and coastal clean-up were implemented in May of this year in Kiamba, the southernmost part of Mindanao. The locality is also a rich coastal area where fishing is the main source of income and where proper waste disposal are not practiced. Aside from awareness raising and clean-up drives, we handed out eco-friendly products within the community to encourage a gradual transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.

Children from four to six years of age were observing us from a distance. As soon as they noticed that we were picking up plastics, they quickly joined. Some started to clean with us, and some rushed back home to get their own eco-bags.

It made me realize that beyond every child’s eye is a lens that captures everything it sees in motion. Children will always emulate what the grown-ups are doing. This is why we need to strive to be role models of environmental stewardship and sustainability for the generation that comes after us.

Imagine the impact that small environmental initiatives have on underserved communities. This is where a little spark of hope or a tiny glimmer of optimism begins—which serves as a building block toward our goal as Climate Reality Leaders to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and sustainable future for the generations to come.

As I always believe, it only takes mindfulness to aspire for a healthier environment and your participation to make it happen.




Roxanne Kythe Fado is a first-year Bachelor of Arts in Political Science student at Mindanao State University–General Santos City. Her love for the environment blossomed during her high school leadership journey, the same year when she developed climate anxiety. She started to get involved in climate and environmental campaigns to help raise awareness. She took part in several leadership programs, including the Conference of Youth: Youth in Climate Action, the ABS-CBN Foundation-Bantay Kalikasan Training, and the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training.


This article was originally published on The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ weekly column for the Manila Bulletin called Eleventh Hour.

This column serves a digital space to discuss our organization’s work on supporting the country’s just transition into a clean, affordable, and self-sufficient energy system; advancing sustainable urban mobility to highlight the issues of equity and democracy; and raising public awareness about the need to phase out single-use plastics. It also serves as a platform for Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders to share your stories, promote your climate initiatives, and provide critical insights to issues that matter to climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development.