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FEATURE STORY

Filipino Youth ask: What can I do to address climate change?

March 3, 2010

DUMAGUETE CITY, PHILIPPINES, February 2, 2010—Youth in three major universities explored what they can do to address climate change, something that experts in a knowledge-sharing forum in Silliman University in Dumaguete City say is already at Filipinos’ doorsteps.

The forum showed that the youth can do something about climate change by observing changes in nature, documenting local best practices in climate change adaptation and telling others about them, measuring and reducing electricity consumption at home, changing to more efficient lightbulbs, using public transportation, and recycling, among others.

Organizers of the forum, namely the Knowledge for Development Center (KDC) in Silliman University, University of San Carlos, and the Central Philippine University; the World Bank, and Smart Communications, hope that the discussion will spark flickers of ideas among the youth so they can submit proposals on household responses to climate change.

Winning ideas will get P25,000 each from Smart. “Don’t be overwhelmed by all the information; don’t be distracted; get involved,” said Jan Bojo, sector leader for environment in East Asia & the Pacific Region at the World Bank.

Ramon Isberto, head of public affairs at Smart, said solutions for climate change make good sense for companies and individuals. Ben Malayang III, Silliman president and one of the panelists, reminded the youth: “The depths of our humanity will be measured by how we care for each other and the world.”

Around 220 representatives from civil society, students, and local government units attended in Silliman. The forum was webcast to the KDC of University of San Carlos in Cebu where around 30 representatives from students, faculty, civil society, national and local government units participated.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The overarching development challenge for the Philippines is achieving more inclusive growth.
  • Climate change makes fighting poverty in the Philippines much more challenging.
  • The country is becoming more vulnerable to typhoons and rising sea level, unprecedented flooding, and massive landslides which hurt the poor much more than the rest of the population.
  • The Philippines now faces the challenge of finding the right balance between efforts to hammer down poverty and at the same time protect against the effects of climate change.
  • Climate change is already happening, there is no question about it. Recent typhoons cost Luzon $4 billion (P180 billion). Sea level is rising, affecting more than 60% of cities and municipalities in the country that are located near the sea. Climate change will make rainfall more difficult to predict and will impact agriculture, which employs many people.
  • Creating the compulsion in people to do something requires showing them how to decode the messages on climate change and asking them to get involved. It will require creating a demand for supply of good leaders, people who wish to have a better world, and an informed society that is willing to work together.
  • People need compulsion to change. They need to understand that they have to do something now to avoid something that will happen in 10-50 years.

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