“Environment and Climate Action must begin with the Youth” – Young Pinoy envi, climate advocates

May 28, 2021 Friday

MANILA, 28 May 2021 — Young Filipino environmental and climate advocates highlighted the role of youth in harnessing the power of creativity and technology to become changemakers towards a better normal during the 46th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways,” with the topic, “Pinoy Changemakers,”
The online conversation hosted by three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda featured millennial changemakers including Antoinette Taus, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador and founder of CORA and The Sustainable Planet; Carmela Ellaga, Fisheries Technologist; Gab Mejia, a conservation photographer and environmental storyteller; and Ranielle Navarro, a teacher from Albay Central School and 2021 National Geographic awardee, and shared their environmental advocacies, and promoted meaningful youth engagement in environmental conservation, protection, and restoration of the Earth in the new normal.
Taus shared how individual’s love, courage and purpose will push more to act on the worsening environmental degradation and climate change.
"With love, courage and purpose...You can fix all of the problems of the world for both people and the planet - love for people and love for nature. And of course, the courage to take action for the things that we believe in. And purpose, believing that every little action really means so much even if a smaller difference to make. There are no small changes and no small acts of kindness. They all mean the world to someone or to our planet," said  Taus.
Ellaga, who was recognized by former US first lady Michelle Obama for her efforts to protect the planet, stressed the importance of convergence among people to achieve a sustainable future.
“Conservation doesn’t mean protecting only wildlife and nature but it also means  protecting people, and working with them to achieve a sustainable future. People really need to work together, involving the community to work together for coastal resource management and protecting our resources,” said Ellaga.
"Part of being a conservation photographer is knowing that conservation is not just about protecting the lands and the wildlife that we have, but it's also about empowering and protecting the people who are living there - such as the local communities, marginalized communities, those disempowered people and underserved towns, and municipalities that surround these protected areas. Because in truth, we all get benefits from the environment, protected areas, and biodiversity,” said Mejia as he put emphasis on the role of photography in building awareness and mobilizing environment and climate action.
Navarro, the brain behind the “A Call to Solution: Goals for Environmental Oversight (ACS Geo),” a project that intends to develop citizen scientists, journalists, and environmental leaders through digital storytelling, geocaching, and the use of digital applications like the Marine Debris Tracker, highlighted the importance of creating new learning opportunities despite limitations of the pandemic to further influence others to act.
“That’s the purpose of digital storytelling. We tell the stories; we share the stories to others, so that there will be transformative change to the listeners, the ripple effect is that they are going to share and influence others as well,” said Navarro.
Legarda, a staunch environmental advocate, encouraged the youth to be the driving force of innovation - to transition the people from being unwitting destroyers to nurturers of the planet, as part of the goals of the UN Decade of Ecological Restoration (2021-2030).
“It is not enough that we have biodiversity conservation organizations and a Bureau to manage our parks and our wildlife. The way of life and the system of governance and development that has been causing this spasm and resulting chains and chains of extinctions will need to change. And we have a small window to do so — until 2030,” Legarda said as she shared a message in celebration of International Day of Biological Diversity last May 22nd.
“Many of us must change our life goals and our dreams so that humanity can collectively address this threat with expertise and knowledge. We need to have more biologists, ecologists, circular economy experts, renewable energy and zero waste professionals who can dream of a fresh start for the planet past 2030,” Legarda added.
As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, "Stories for a Better Normal" aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.
This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation.