[Statement] Youth organizations held the first-ever State of the Environment and Youth Address (SEYA) 2020

Youth organizations held the first-ever
State of the Environment and Youth Address (SEYA) 2020

In response to the fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte, environmental and climate youth-led organizations virtually came together to hold their own version of SONA—the State of the Environment and Youth Address (SEYA) 2020. Invited resource persons and participants hail from the three main islands in the country, allowing for better representation. Among the resource persons were from the youth sector, NGOs, and two government officials.

SEYA revolved on sociopolitical issues surrounding environmental and climate advocacies. Two resource persons, Chad Booc and Deign Soriano, shared their experiences of being tagged as terrorists for their advocacies. Chad also talked about how greed impacts communities. “Maraming mga foreign mining companies, logging companies, at plantations ang gustong pumasok sa Mindanao kaya naman malala ang pag-atake sa Lumad schools and communities.” said Chad as he later urged the youth to take action and collaborate with communities to walk the talk instead of just talking and talking in forums.

On another note, Deign emphasized that the environment, and climate justice are interconnected, saying that “[t]hese allow advocates to reach out to communities especially those who are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of climate change and environmental degradation.” Among the communities are the underprivileged who have less resources in adapting and responding to these issues.

Consumers, especially those from the underprivileged sector who rely on ‘sachet culture’, are often blamed for the plastic pollution, but Marian Ledesma from Greenpeace disagrees and said that companies are at fault. “Malaki ang kinikita nila sa pag-benta ng sachet sa sistemang “tingi-tingi” ngunit hindi nila sinasagot ang responsibilidad sa pagsugpo nito. “ She also added that production of plastic requires fossil fuel, making plastic pollution also a public health crisis. Khevin Yu, another Greenpeace resource person, supported this claim. He stated that burning coal and other fossil fuel generates air pollution. He also noted that new studies correlated higher COVID deaths with areas with air pollution.

Youth’s role in planetary, environmental, and human health was emphasized in the Youth Agenda and Demands discussions. John Algo opened this segment of the program by discussing the country’s commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and by promoting stakeholder representation and active participation. He stressed the youth’s capability in making a difference on planetary and human health. “We have seen it. We have heard it. We know it happens. We know it’s possible.” he said before calling for the ‘right kind of change coming against Climate Change’.

Furthermore, Population and Development Commissioner Dexter Galban raised the need to strike a balance between taking care of the environment and taking care of our health. “Kaya ako ay nananawagan bilang bahagi ng mga kabataan, bilang bahagi ng sektor pangkalusugan, at bilang bahagi ng pamahalaan, sana po ay makaisip tayo ng mga paraan, produkto, at aktibong pamamaraan upang bigyan ng tamang responsable at pagbibigay-alaga sa ating bayan, klima, at kalusugan.” he concluded, ending the Youth Agenda and Demands discussion.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago reiterated the Youth Agenda and Demands and with the experiences and sentiments expressed by the esteemed resource persons as she shared the action points and policy recommendations. She called on the hastened convening of oversight committees to ensure that laws serve the public’s interests and encouraged the youth to demand a better normal and brighter future from the elected and mandated. “Manawagan ang panangutan mula sa aking kinauukulan sa pagtawag sa kanilang mandato na pagsilbihan ang interes ng publiko at ang kinabukasan na ating hinahangad ay inuuna ang interes ng tao, ng ating planeta, at ating kalikasan. Yan ang kinabukasan na nais nating pandayin.” she said while also calling for youth empowerment and participation, and collaboration leading to stronger coalitions and movements.

The virtual SEYA was held on 3 August 2020, one week after the 5th SONA, from 4:00 p.m. onwards through a Zoom meeting with 110+ participants from 40+ organizations. This is initiated by the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, Greenergy, Greenpeace Philippines, STEP Philippines, UP ALYANSA, We The Future PH, Youth for Climate Hope, Youth for our Planet Asia Pacific, and Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines.

For more information: https://tinyurl.com/SEYA2020FBLive
Contact person: Patrick Ryan Bello (Secretariat)
+63 995 142 1869 / youthstrike4climateph@gmail.com

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