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Siargao youth empowered to lead local climate and waste management solutions

SIARGAO Island’s youth leaders are championing climate change and sustainability through the community-based and campus-wide campaigns and initiatives they have crafted during their participation in “Klima Eskwela: Science, Arts, and Action” in Del Carmen, Siargao, Surigao Del Norte last May 16 to 17.

Students from the SNSU-Del Carmen Campus (DC) and Siargao Island Institute Technology (SIIT), and representatives from the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation participated in Klima Eskwela on Siargao Island.

Organized by The Climate Reality Project Philippines, Klima Eskwela is a knowledge exchange program equipping youth leaders with the skills and knowledge to tackle the interlinked challenges of the climate and plastic crises. This year’s Klima Eskwela is particularly focused on training young advocates on local campaigning and movement building.

The two-day Klima Eskwela in Siargao was a collaboration between Climate Reality Philippines, the Municipal Government of Del Carmen, and Surigao Del Norte State University (SNSU).

Local waste initiatives from youth leaders

By the end of the Klima Eskwela sessions, the following action plans were presented by students from the SNSU-Del Carmen Campus (DC) and Siargao Island Institute Technology (SIIT), and representatives from the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation:

  1. Single-use plastic ban on campus: SNSU-DC students are advocating for a single-use plastic ban within their campus.

  2. Zero-waste collaboration: SNSU-DC students are proposing a joint campaign with street vendors to promote eco-friendly alternatives and zero-waste practices.

  3. Investing in infrastructure: Securing funding for a comprehensive waste segregation system within SNSU-DC is another goal, with approval sought from the campus director.

  4. Waste management policy: SIIT students are proposing a waste management policy for their institution.

  5. Barangay-wide segregation: SK officials are spearheading an agreement among barangay officials and community leaders to implement a waste segregation program across all 20 barangays in Del Carmen.

Klima Eskwela brought together youth leaders, Climate Reality Leaders, and local officials for a learning exchange and movement-building session on climate and plastic solutions.

With the support of Climate Reality Philippines, campus administrators, and the Municipal Government of Del Carmen, the participants will formalize these into resolutions or manifestos for implementation in the coming months.

Intergenerational collaboration for climate action and sustainability

Expressing his full support for these initiatives, Mayor Alfredo M. Coro of Del Carmen pledged to collaborate with the young leaders to translate their plans into action.

 Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Coro M. Coro II is one of the more than 1,800 Climate Reality Leaders in the Philippines. In his opening remarks, he emphasized the role of the youth in climate action. 

In his remarks, Mayor Coro implored the students to leverage their skills and knowledge to champion local solutions for the climate and plastic crisis. He emphasized the importance of holding national and local leaders accountable for the future of the youth and the generations to come.

“Just because we are a small island doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to demand what is ours. Nature is ours… [Your generation is] smarter, you’re more educated, and you have access to resources we could never imagine in our time—information. You have to demand from your government, from your leaders, from your business community the right kind of behavior,” Mayor Coro said, acknowledging the shortcomings of the older generations in taking care of the planet.

Drawing from his experiences and insights as a Climate Reality Leader, Mayor Coro encouraged the over 40 youth leaders in attendance to become vocal advocates for local fishermen, farmers, and the most vulnerable members of society who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

 Bodhi Patil, Co-Creator of Ocean Uprise, shared his journey towards becoming a global youth leader and advocate for ocean-climate solutions.

Global youth leader Bodhi Patil, Co-Creator of Ocean Uprise, also graced the event, igniting a spark of inspiration in the participants. Reframing climate and plastic crises as an opportunity, he urged the youth of Surigao Del Norte to use their voices to push for intergenerational collaboration and to build solutions for a sustainable future.

Del Carmen’s local policies to address the climate and plastic crises

As a coastal community, the Municipality of Del Carmen is at the forefront of stronger typhoons, sea-level rise, and other climate change impacts, endangering the lives and livelihoods of its people.

Engr. Norman Sulima, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator-Designate of Del Carmen, shared during the event the local government’s ongoing climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts as outlined in its Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP).

Engr. Norman Sulima, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator-Designate of Del Carmen, presented Del Carmen’s Local Climate Change Action Plan.

Adopting a ridge-to-reef approach in charging its path toward sustainable development, Sulima said the municipality is employing nature-based solutions and eco-based approaches in its local growth strategy, including the management of its mangroves, marine protected areas, and watersheds.

As one of the initial recipients of the People’s Survival Fund, the only national climate change fund in the Philippines, Del Carmen has also established the Siargao Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolk. This end-to-end institutional system is designed to generate locally tailored climate information and capacitate farmers and fisherfolk to undertake appropriate interventions to address the effects of climate change on their livelihoods, health, and safety.

The program goes beyond weather forecasting and crop management. It also includes training on agricultural technologies, financial planning, disaster preparedness, and early detection of pests and diseases. Importantly, it seeks to introduce alternative livelihood options for those struggling to make ends meet.

Gina Mozo Barquilla, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Del Carmen, highlighted the municipality’s ongoing ‘Ways to Zero Waste’ campaign. This initiative enforces Ordinance No. 31, which prohibits single-use bags and commodities, promoting eco-friendly alternatives like reusable bags.

Gina Mozo Barquilla, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Del Carmen, provided an overview of Del Carmen’s waste management programs.

Barquilla acknowledged challenges in implementing the ordinance, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she emphasized that stricter enforcement efforts are now underway.

Building a sustainable future together

The workshop also featured Climate Reality Leaders Vincent Cotoron and Katherine Mana-Galido, whose presentations on the latest science on climate change and plastic pollution solutions provided a strong foundation for the discussions.

Climate Reality Leader Vincent Cotoron provided an overview of the science behind climate change.  

Quoting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Cotoron emphasized that “the era of global warming has ended, global boiling has arrived.” Mana-Galido, on the other hand, shared her journey in founding Back to Basics Eco-store, a refillery store providing affordable and convenient access to household essentials without wasteful packaging.

Climate Reality leader Katherine Mana-Galido delivered a presentation on plastic solutions for consumers. 

Aimee Oliveros, Deputy Branch Manager of Climate Reality Philippines, emphasized the need for national policies that address plastic waste at the source, not just disposal. She advocated for a national ban on single-use plastics as a crucial step towards a solution.

Oliveros, together with Engr. Elainne Lopez, Country Program Manager of AktivAsia Philippines, facilitated Klima Eskwela’s skill-building session on campaigning for plastic-free and waste management solutions in the campus and community.

Engr. Elainne Lopez, Country Program Manager of Aktiv Asia, and Aimee Oliveros, Deputy Branch Manager of Climate Reality PH, facilitated the workshop on movement building and campaigning. 

In five groups, students brainstormed creative solutions, built strategies to address these challenges, and drafted action plans to effectively communicate their ideas for campus-wide and community-wide implementation.

The creativity and passion of Siargao Island’s youth during Klima Eskwela offered a glimpse of hope in the fight against climate change and plastic pollution. Their initiatives, backed by strong community and political support, mark a significant step towards a brighter, more sustainable future.


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