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To a Greener Future: ASEAN Environmental Stewardship Forum

To shed light on the worsening effects of climate change in the country, the Philippine chapter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Youth Organization organized an Environmental Stewardship Forum last November 5 through Zoom. A total of five guest speakers discussed how the youth could participate in environmental action and stewardship, with a panel discussion following their talks.

In the opening remarks, educator, entrepreneur, and advocate for change Dr. Alex Reyes addressed the role of the youth in preserving the Earth. “We all really need to take care of our world. We only have one planet, and therefore we need to…bring awareness not just in our homes but also to our community and the rest of our country,” she emphasized.

Taking the lead

Dan Renner, the founder of Engine Ecophils, Inc., began the series of talks by defining environmental stewardship, underlining how this form of  stewardship must be about taking action—even through small groups or individual actions in our own community. He stressed the importance of finding ways to accomplish what needs to be done as environmental stewards to protect our planet and prevent further damage.

Next, Dr. Lorenzo Sablay, a medical professional and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) youth advocate, highlighted how the youth must put effort into educating and opening the eyes of climate deniers—people who do not believe in climate change. Through this, more people can gain a deeper understanding of the alarming reality of climate change. Sablay also highlighted how the environment affects our health and well-being, urging that “there can be no healthy people without a healthy planet.”

This speech was followed by James Nyantaki, a climate engineer and the founder of Climate Change Crusaders. Nyantaki detailed the root causes of climate change and tackled the negative effects of human activities on the environment, such as overconsumption and transportation pollution. He also encouraged the youth to call for environmental action during this climate emergency. “It is up to us as individuals to say that this fight is for all of us. It is up to us to make sure this fight is won,” he affirmed. 

Call for change

Airenz Murao, the national vice chairperson of Angat Kabataan ng Pilipinas, showcased the projects of their organization next. This included MantiKabtaan, which recycles used cooking oil, and various educational discussions and forums that they conducted around Metro Manila to show how the youth can contribute toward environmental stewardship, even in small ways.

Finally, Chito Arceo Jr., the national education coordinator of YACAP Philippines, discussed individuality and intersectionality as well as youth in climate justice. Arceo tackled how people relate differently to climate change, and how main polluters and contributors toward climate change must be held accountable for their actions. He also shared his personal advocacy project, the Angeles watershed, which will potentially hold enough water to supply Angeles City and the surrounding areas to mitigate their water crisis.

The event was capped off by a panel discussion and open forum featuring all speakers, which tackled environmental justice, climate action, and how even small steps from individuals can greatly help in the fight against climate change. With that, the forum echoed the call for environmental advocacy as it urged the youth to move for environmental action toward a greener future. 

By Liv Licardo