Child and youth leaders unite for disaster risk management (DRR) and climate crisis consultation
A total of 52 children and youth members from all across the Philippines gathered in Binangonan, Rizal for the National Children and Youth Consultation for Disaster Risk Management (DRR) and Climate Crisis on November 29-30, 2019.
With the theme “Children and Youth Aspirations for a Brighter World,” the conference highlighted the role of the youth in addressing climate change and in preparing for disasters. It brought together youth leaders aged 10-24 and gave them the platform to discuss and brainstorm adaptation, mitigation, response, and rehabilitation ideas in accordance with Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Children have always been regarded as the most vulnerable sector in times of disasters, but we believe that these children can also act as agents of change. Through this conference, we commit that all their recommendations will be presented to the government and proper authorities in hopes of influencing their current programming and strengthen their approaches in DRR and climate crisis,” said Ajab-Aram Macapagat, World Vision’s Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs (HEA) Director.
Plenary and breakout sessions were held for in-depth discussions on climate crisis and DRR. As culminating activity, the participants declared their commitment to continue voicing out their opinions and making collective decisions to act on the most pressing disaster and climate-related problems. The declaration also included the participants’ consolidated recommendations to reduce disaster risks and develop climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in their respective communities. In their manifesto, the participants emphasized their recommendations on the four thematic areas of DRR, with particular attention to conducting more awareness-raising activities, maximizing the use of social media to mobilize advocates, and giving equal attention to man-made and natural disasters.
Jomarie, one of the participants and former World Vision sponsored child, shared that he feels grateful for another opportunity to learn and meet other youth leaders with the same advocacy. “Dito marami kaming nakilala. Marami kaming natutunan from different leaders coming from different places. Nalaman namin yung mga ginagawa nila sa community nila na pwede namin i-apply sa community namin (We met new friends. We learned a lot from different leaders coming from different places. We learned about what others do, which we can also apply in our own communities).” For Jomarie, one of his biggest learnings in the consultation is flexibility and being open to new ideas. Jomarie also encouraged other youth and children to participate in similar initiatives. “Nakakatuwa na marinig na naging inspiration pala ako sa ibang bata and naging model na pwede palang kahit bata ka pwede ka palang tumulong sa community at pwede ka palang pakinggan kung may idea ka. Ang message ko sa ibang bata, wag kayong matakot i-try matuto. Magagamit natin sya all throughout ng buhay natin. Matututo tayo at makakatulong pa tayo sa iba (It’s good to know that I’ve inspired other children to help the community and to let their ideas be heard. I would like to encourage other children to speak up and continue learning. We can apply all these learnings all throughout our lives. We will learn and we will be able to help others as well).”
The children urged the government to invest more on research, educate the younger generation about the crisis, strictly implement environmental laws, and establish children’s organizations for DRR. They likewise commit themselves to be more involved in the conduct of eco-friendly activities and coastal clean-up drives. The children’s manifesto will be presented in the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) to be held in Brisbane, Australia in 2020. The participants and all organizations present in the event sealed their pledge to this advocacy by writing their names on leaf-shaped papers and hanging them on a symbolic tree.
Arnel, a former World Vision sponsored child who served as one of the facilitators, shared “It’s just good to listen to the children. They have brilliant ideas. They really want to insist that they are not just vulnerable, that they can do something. They are willing to learn and to be trained. This sector [children] have needs that adults may not know. A child once said ‘do not talk about us without us.’” Arnel said that being one of the facilitators is his way of paying forward as World Vision opened his mind to be disaster-ready as early as 7 years old.
Collaborative efforts will always be needed to ensure safer environment, protected children, and prepared communities. NCYC demonstrated the youth’s role as game changers in various aspects of development such as leadership, innovation, and disaster risk reduction and management. Children and the youth serve as champions towards sustainability and resiliency.
World Vision led the convention in partnership with Save the Children, Yes Pinoy Foundation, U-Inspire Philippines, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, and Makati City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.