Youth leaders answer the call for environmental awareness

Since PHINLA’s inception in 2019, various training activities and advocacy campaigns were set in motion to achieve the program’s goal of developing better waste management systems and improving the working conditions of its beneficiaries. It is PHINLA’s aim to have the best practices institutionalized in local and national government policies.

In doing so, PHINLA engages national and local government offices, waste bank groups, waste collectors associations, and civil society organizations. But PHINLA also believes that attaining the goals of the program and ultimately achieving a cleaner and healthier environment call for youth participation.

The youth constitute a large part of the world’s population. In the Philippines, 30 million of the 110 million Filipinos are youth members. Having this in mind, PHINLA and the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Mintal, Davao City recently conducted the Youth4Environment webinar attended by more than 70 primary and secondary students and youth leaders.

In the said activity, SK members discussed the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle campaign, the basics of composting, and salient points of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The members also highlighted that even the youth should practice zero-waste lifestyle and become more responsible consumers.

“We have the power to influence our leaders to prioritize policies that promote environment protection. I am encouraging you, our student leaders, to also mobilize your school administrators and institutions. It’s not easy pero kailangan nating magtulungan,” says Mintal SK Chairperson Kendall Joyce Abrio.

PHINLA aims to engage more youth in its next line of activities in the coming academic year.

Opportunity for the Youth

It is the children who are particularly vulnerable to environment-related risks. They will have to live longer with the consequences of current environmental issues, including the depletion of resources, contamination of air, land, and water, and even loss of biodiversity.

As the next leaders, the youth have the power to turn this around. They have better access to information and they live in a time when there is enormous technological advancements. PHINLA hopes that the youth would maximize the power of these tools and their innate skills and talents to participate in advocacies that protect our planet. With their voice and practices, the youth can influence their peers, parents, relatives, and families to be mindful of the wastes they create.

“It is in the rising generations that heightened environmental awareness can most easily be achieved. Imagine the impact if all these 30 million Filipino youth would do even the simplest eco-friendly steps. It may seem a huge responsibility, but PHINLA encourages our youth to look at it as an opportunity—an opportunity to make a positive impact and meaningful difference for our planet. We have one earth after all,” says PHINLA Advocacy and Campaign Specialist Leovy Ramirez.