Government taps the youth to help in the campaign on climate change…
The effects of climate change have obviously become more intense year after year. But it is only when there are devastating typhoons that hit the country such as Ondoy in 2009 and Sendong in 2011 that people pay close attention to the climate change issue.
Hence, the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the lead policy-making and coordinating body of the government on climate change-related initiatives, has underscored the importance of engaging children and the youth, and the academic community in its undertakings.
“With the children and youth constituting half of the world’s population, it is this generation which is expected to endure the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation if kept unabated,” says CCC vice chairperson Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering, who recognizes the need to enlist the support of the people, particularly the youth, to effectively deal with this new menace to humanity.
But prior to doing so, Sering says, what should be addressed first is the need to undertake a broad and intensive information and education campaign.
“So that the people will better understand the reasons behind this abnormality in the weather and secure their full cooperation and participation in the implementation of the programs and activities to address the problem,” she explains.
SPREADING THE WORD
In line with the government’s proclamation declaring Nov. 19 to 25 of each year as Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week, CCC recently held the National Gathering for Youth Empowerment on Climate Change at the Manila Hotel Tent City.
The gathering, participated in by various schools, colleges, and universities in Metro Manila and some provinces, aimed to integrate climate change awareness in children and youth initiatives of student and community-based organizations through specialized workshops and activities. It also discussed ways to enhance the current school curriculum with the inclusion of topics on climate change.
Among the participating schools were the University of the Philippines, Zamboanga State College of Marine Technology, Angeles City National High School, Carlos P. Garcia High School, E. Rodriguez Jr. High School, Manila Science High School, Assumption College of Manila, Assumption University, Ateneo de Manila University, Bulacan State University, De La Salle University Manila, Far Eastern University, Mapua Institute of Technology, Miriam College, New Era University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Technological University of the Philippines, University of Makati, University of Santo Tomas, and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
A national network of youth organizations for climate change actions called the “Greeneration” was also launched during the conference. The group, which will serve as the voice of children and youth in the development of climate change-related policies and programs of the government, is likewise the assisting arm of the CCC in information dissemination.
“We’re doing this because we admit that we’re deficient in a lot of ways, in terms of implementation. Now we engage the youth and ask them to help us. It is better to spread the message to the youth because they will probably listen to you more. This is the generation, the Greeneration that will really make it happen. They will be the ones who will inherit this Earth. And if they are able to absorb whatever they learn and spread it throughout their schools, that’s the most effective medium of spreading the word,” relates Sering.
The challenge for student leaders during the conference was to develop and implement adaptation and mitigation initiatives in their respective campuses and communities that will be featured in the Climate Change Consciousness Week in November next year.
Sering hopes that this will exponentially spread and heighten the awareness of the Filipino population about climate change, capitalizing on youth participation, social media, the arts, and other popular forms of expression.
Multimedia and the arts will be tapped to translate the technical concept of climate change into terms that an average person can understand. To be launched soon is the Pocket Performance (PoPer), developed by CCC and Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), that will tour campuses throughout the year. It will inform students and the public about climate change in a hip and cool way.
“The youth’s capability to influence and shape policies and programs of the government should be recognized. However, in order to better equip the sector with climate change knowledge and skills, mentors and educators should also be involved and capacitated,” she adds.
Social media will also be utilized to reach a wider audience. This will be done by publishing articles on climate change in various education-related blogs and online campus publications.
“Your action should not be limited to the click of a finger, or liking Facebook statuses. You cannot just say that you like this and you’re fine. You have to be able to put it into your consciousness, in the sense that you don’t have to make an effort. It should be natural on your part. And how can you make this happen? You really have to start young,” Sering ends.
Jaser A. Marasigan
December 06, 2012