Campaign launched to unite Filipino youth vs climate change

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 July) — A campaign to harness the youth’s social media presence to produce positive changes in climate change awareness and mitigation was launched in Davao City Wednesday.

Called #nowPH: One Million Filipino Youth Voices for Climate Action, the campaign aims to unite the voice of the Filipino youth for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference in December, where the country takes on a crucial role in negotiations for reductions in carbon emissions to prevent a 2-degree-Celsius rise in global temperature.

The Climate Change Commission and the National Youth Commission initiated the campaign in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development.

The people behind #nowPH (or the Not on Our Watch) bank on the potential of the Internet to empower young people to raise public consciousness on the science of climate change and on promoting 15 ways to low emission development strategies (LEDS) in schools and communities.

Ana Gaddi, who works as one of the many young people in the CCC said only a few of people her age possess good knowledge about climate change.

However, her job has made her a witness to the growing number of mitigation and awareness projects of the youth around the country. Since CCC started its operations in 2010, the organization has been actively engaging youth to initiate programs on climate change.

Pebbles Sanchez, 26, CCC planning officer, said the online component of their campaign will enable visitors to their website to access relevant information about climate change before they may fill out a form, signifying their commitment to the cause.

Sanchez said the offline component of the campaign like Wednesday’s workshop in the MinDA office trains youth leaders from different organizations, so that they can initiate climate change projects by themselves in the future.

With the potential of the Internet, Sanchez said they hope to instill learning in the one million youth who will commit to the project despite the many distractions online.

“I think that it’s just a matter of guiding them [on how to wisely use digital tools] so that they will develop interest and, along the way, care for the environment,” she said. “I don’t want to think that the youth are apathetic about socially-relevant causes like the environment.”

Sanchez described the online behavior of the youth as “very active.” #nowPH hopes to use this engagement to further advocacies on the environment and to raise climate change awareness, rather than just consuming entertainment media that proliferates everywhere. She encourages the youth to set limits for their interests and to express liberty online, while posting responsibly along the way.

She said #nowPH wants to instill good values and understanding of the environment to the youth when bringing the climate change discussion online so that they will not end up ranting, say, about experiences on flood and typhoons.

Sanchez said that although there are other socially relevant issues that the youth concern themselves with, #nowPH hopes to encourages active youth organizations to initiate projects for the environment in their own communities.

“Our generation will face the impact of climate change in 2020 or 2050 when it worsens,” she said.

Sanchez said they are targeting to gather one million signatures by the second week of November; these signatures will then be sent to French president Francois Hollande by December, in time to rally the Filipino youth for the Paris forum.

#nowPH has gathered over 5,000 signatures since was launched last July 21. There are also road shows and NYC-led events and youth camps in the pipeline.

The campaign will also be tapping the social influence of the many individuals who embody the kind of leadership needed for climate change awareness.

Sanchez said they will be engaging personalities like Dingdong Dantes, Bianca Gonzales, Atom Araullio, Migz Villafuerte, Anna Oposa, and Pie Alvarez to promote the website and to make it stand out and prominent online.

Government agencies are also actively encouraging partnerships and collaboration with different groups for this campaign.

Liezel Salera, 26, founder of Invest Mindanow, a platform for inclusive growth, social entrepreneurship, and youth development, encouraged the youth to be active in projects like this as an expression of stewardship.

She said that sine majority of the world’s population—the youth—will be inheriting Earth, “the environment remains to be one of the causes that the youth can deeply care about”.

“It’s a great equalizer and it unifies everyone; we can talk about it without having to highlight our differences and diversity, she said, adding, “One of the major agendas of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is the environment.”

Salera is currently the curator of the WEF-initiated Global Shapers Community, a platform that connects local youth leaders in communities.

USAID joined the project by creating the campaign’s web portal, contributing in capacity building efforts, and by holding national and local youth summits and workshops.

The Philippines is considered one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, droughts and severe storms.

In November 2013, super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Tacloban City and other parts of the Visayas, killing at least 6,000 people and displacing several thousands more. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)