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Eco Voices: Youth power for the planet

Climate change is a colossal challenge that requires collective efforts from all of us, but it’s especially crucial for the younger generation to lead the way, as they are the ones who will ultimately inherit this planet.

In the pursuit of climate justice, Lara Jean Salaysay and Pauline Asuncion are making a significant impact with their winning entries, “Green Economy Ready” and “Bagsakan Kabataan,” at the “Youth4Climate: Sparking Solutions” event held recently in Rome, Italy.

This global initiative, organized by the Government of Italy in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, aims to develop a “bold plan for climate action” funding winning entries with $20,000, or approximately ₱1 million.

What is Youth4Climate?

In 2021, Italy hosted the Youth4Climate Summit in Milan as a precursor to COP26. This event, which gave rise to the Youth4Climate Manifesto, provided young people from over 180 countries with the opportunity to propose practical solutions for pressing climate issues.

With the objective of championing climate solutions driven by young minds, the global initiative focuses on key areas, namely: driving ambition, sustainable recovery, engagement of non-state actors, and creating a climate-conscious society.

The selection process comprises three rounds, involving proposal submissions, pitching shortlisted climate action projects, and funding the winning entries. This year, 49 projects received funding out of 1,100 submissions.

‘Green Economy Ready’

Lara Jean Salaysay receives a certificate of achievement for her chosen climate action project, ‘Green Economy Ready.’

Centered on climate education, Salaysay’s climate action project, “Green Economy Ready,” aims to integrate eco-friendly employment opportunities into the career counseling program for senior high school students in the Philippines.

“The Green Economy Ready project aims to equip teachers with tools to raise awareness about green jobs by using the Green Economy Ready toolkit for incorporating green jobs into career counseling. The project will highlight opportunities in middle-level skills development, an untapped path for graduates with high potential for immediate employment in green sectors,” said Salaysay.

The toolkit will provide job opportunities at both the national and local levels, featuring companies offering promising green job prospects.

“A toolkit section will also focus on potential green career paths for students enrolled in Special Education (SPED) and the Alternative Learning System (ALS),” she added.

Salaysay, the force behind the climate action project, brings eight years of experience in education for sustainable development in formal and non-formal settings.

‘Bagsakan Kabataan’

Pauline Asuncion’s ‘Bagsakan Kabataan’ wins during the Youth4Climate awarding ceremony.

Under the food and agriculture thematic area, Asuncion’s “Bagsakan Kabataan” aims to promote genuine local land reform through farmer-student exchanges, campaigns, and collaborative research.

“Bagsakan Kabataan aims to mobilize rural and urban youth, in collaboration with farmers and rural women, to promote agroecology and climate action in the Philippines through youth-led organic farmer markets,” said Asuncion.

Involving young people in these agroecological fairs, Asuncion believes, adds creativity and cultural richness to the youth-led initiatives.

“Through this project, NNARA-Youth can drive youth action in more cities and rural areas in the Philippines to develop and sustain local agro-ecological fairs and farmer markets,” he added.

Pauline Asuncion, the driving force behind this climate action project, serves as the national vice-chairperson of the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates – Youth and is a climate justice activist.

In a nation grappling with mounting environmental challenges, the youth stand at the forefront as change-makers. Both Salaysay and Asuncion have stepped up with innovative projects that aim to create a greener future.

Their achievements at the Youth4Climate event in Rome underscore the transformative potential of youth-led initiatives to spark climate solutions, as, after all, they are the rightful heirs of our planet.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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