Climate Change Forum Spurs Youth to Action

Dec 14th 2012

Climate change is upon us, and is affecting lives all over the world. There is a need to help mitigate, adapt and use technology in facing the challenge of climate change. These were the main points made during the Climate Change Forum titled “K2-12: Kalma, Klima 2012” which was attended by around a hundred high school student leaders and teachers from Metro Manila.

The participating students came mostly from the Youth for Environment in School Organization (YES-O) network, representing various public and private schools in the National Capital Region. The forum, organized by the Communication Foundation for Asia, was held at the CFA Lagerwey Hall last November 16, 2012.

Opening the event was Fernando Ramirez, the Luzon Regional Unit Manager of the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), which sponsored the CFA project. In his address, he emphasized that there is much work to be done in the care for the environment and that we all need to be partners in taking active individual roles to mitigate the effects of climate change. He also shared his hope that there will be more activities to involve the young in creating awareness to preserve and care for nature.

To boost audience interest, a group quiz was played and won by the students from Manila Science High School and Camp Crame High School. Further broadening the participants’ understanding of climate change, CFA’s Electronic Media Department Head, Ms. Pie Fenomeno, presented the new video documentary “Weather, Weather Lang: Lessons in Climate Change” which featured environmental experts explaining the facts on climate change. Aside from the video documentary that premiered at the forum, a new booklet was also produced and distributed, entitled “When the Earth Heats Up: Frequently Asked Questions on Climate Change” authored by D. N. Javier.

Dr. Nina Galang, the President of the Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, then deepened the introductory presentations by expounding on the definition of climate change and its effects not only in the Philippines but all over the world. She showed the devastating impact of global warming especially in our country. We are prone to typhoons but the ones that have occurred recently were more devastating because of climate change and human causes. She challenged the audience to adopt a low carbon lifestyle, using and consuming products that involve low carbon dioxide emissions. This kind of life would mean less use of fuel, as for example, having a diet that involved less fuel consumption in its manufacture and packaging. When asked if the audience preferred boiled banana or junk food, the kids readily answered, “Junk food!” This led Dr. Galang to explain that not only are fruits healthier, they also involve less carbon to consume because they do not go through processing and packaging which require fuel.

After the break, Ms. Fenomeno announced the Student Competition on the Best Environmental Project, which is open to high school students from any public or private school in Metro Manila. As explained in the rules posted on CFA’s website ( click to view), entrants will be required to submit a scientifically-based project that would address Climate Change issues in the country. The contest will further increase awareness in the impact of climate change and ways of mitigating it.

The presentation of Prof. Rosario Wood of the Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute followed, strengthening the need for more young people to be aware of climate change and involved in doing something about it. In her presentation, she discussed institutional programs that can be done, focusing on mitigation, adaptation and technological innovation. Citing her home school as an example of the “Greener School” program, she enumerated the various environmental programs that Miriam College has put in effect in the past years, making it a champion school in the area of environmental awareness and care. She explained that their school maintenance uses practices in the care of nature while their curriculum from basic education to graduate school teaches how one can become a citizen with an awareness of the need for environment care. The programs that she mentioned could be possible models for the participating schools to consider for their project to be entered in the contest.

After the forum, the students expressed not only their excitement to join the contest but also their appreciation of the event. Angelica Fajardo of Sta. Lucia High School, Novaliches commented, “It encouraged me to do more in our society. It helped me realize the importance of our environment and to create projects to save it.” The forum also convinced Cyril Joseph Versoza of Manresa School that he needs to do something for the environment now because he has seen the worsening effects of climate change.

The forum, as well as the video, the booklet and the student project contest, are part of the CFA project “Raising Students’ Awareness and Initiatives For Environmental Protection”, which was made possible through a grant from the Foundation for the Philippine Environment.

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