Empowering youth to drive climate change

8 NOVEMBER 2021

Following Plan International Philippines’ recent webinar on climate advocacy and the digital landscape, 16 year old Youth Reporter, Edciel, writes about the potential of the youth to drive climate action, especially online.

16 year old Youth Reporter, Edciel
16 year old Youth Reporter, Edciel

If you are also confused like I was before I became an environmental advocate on why you should care and be aware about climate change, I recommend watching “Climate Change Advocacy and the Digital Landscape”.

This webinar (conducted by Plan International in collaboration with the Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP) Project supported by the European Union; the YOUTH CARES Project supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and the Safe Schools Project supported by the Prudence Foundation) tackled how youth can curb the effects of climate change. Because it is indeed true that every one of us matter, regardless of our gender and age. Our actions matter regardless of how small or big they are.

The ‘WHY’?

Aprille Juanillo of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists delivers a presentation on climate change reporting in the Philippines.

“Why you?” is a question we ask ourselves when we consider advocating for climate action. I asked myself the same question once. 

Ms. Aprille Juanillo from the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, one of the guest speakers at the webinar said, “When we talk about the issues in the environment we are not [just] saving the earth, we are saving our race,” and I believe that’s enough reason to act. In the end, we are all affected. 

The eagerness I felt to act and use my voice was further activated after hearing how speakers passionately delivered messages that truly touched my heart.

We are not apart from nature; we are part of nature. The food we eat, our houses and medicine came from the environment. Even the oxygen we breathe to survive came from the environment. It should be our responsibility as humans to address climate change. Since it was started long ago, the best that we can do is to manage it and reduce its effects. It is now our duty to ensure we make the earth liveable for us and the next generation.

No other planet like earth

I call on national and local government agencies, companies, organisations and all sectors to declare #ClimateActionNow because all hopes of eliminating poverty are all connected to this environmental issue.

The plans to adapt to climate change should go down into local areas like barangays and reach out more through mass communication because we need all of us to act. 

I believe in the power of youth to create lasting change that will help decrease emissions into the atmosphere. We cannot live on a burning planet.

All the droughts and storms that we are facing in the Philippines will multiply if we continue to be part of the problem and contribute to the irreversible effects of climate change. From health to education to food and our livelihoods—they are all affected if carbon emissions are not stopped.

We shouldn’t allow this beautiful planet to become somewhere we cannot exist because there is no other planet suitable for human beings.

Effects of climate change

I can already see how climate change is affecting us in general. We cannot deny the fact that as the temperature is rising, ice is melting and it affects the rising of sea levels which also impacts coastal communities. The extinction of many living organisms and animals is also occurring at a fast rate. That’s why it needs the participation of all to create change to have a better and greener future.

Youth can be a catalyst of change by using their voice, influence and platform to encourage others to participate and know more about climate change. Because as we all know, we only have 9 years and there is still so much to do. Climate change’s irreversible effects are just as frightening as COVID-19 for it can not only kill people but also animals and our environment.

I will do my best to ensure the future I have been looking forward to will be the future of everyone. 

Advocacy in the digital era

I started my environmental advocacy journey 3 years ago after watching a video about air pollution in India where they used oxygen tanks to go outside. In the last video, a girl said, “This is my life, and it’s going to be yours,” which scared me the most. The short clip portrayed how life would be in 2030 if we are not able to stop air pollution. That’s why media coverage is an important tool to bring awareness to the issue of climate change.

Now we are in a digital era, it is easier to create and share content and use your platform to spread your knowledge about climate change. Despite having misinformation and disinformation spread online, the internet and social media is a powerful and helpful tool for us advocates.

We all know how wide social media can reach. It is now easier for us advocates to be powerful because other people might be sharing the same messages as us. The more people you are with, the more you will feel empowered, motivated and heard.

Girls and women who are vulnerable to climate change should also participate. Having everyone involved, regardless of their gender and age, without discrimination, means unity and can make us more effective in addressing climate change.

Emergencies, Youth empowerment, Climate change, Climate change activism, Youth in media

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