The less there is being done for climate crisis today, the more adverse conditions the future generations will face—a premise strongly supporting why the world has seen a surge in youth environmental activism in recent years.

Senior High School students from PWC took part in the Global Climate Strike last November 29, 2019 at the Freedom Park, Roxas Avenue, Davao City. Students from Ateneo de Davao University, University of Southeastern Philippines, and members of the organizing groups were also present in the event spearheaded by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Student Environmental Alliance.

PWC’s 51 participants comprised of the student government council, members of the Kahuy Club, Science Club, selected students, and moderators.

The attendees witnessed a series of talks from environmentalists, performances, poetry and then went on the strike itself, nonviolently clamoring for attention towards the environmental crisis. They also drew inspiration from the individuals who received recognition for maintaining sustainable practices.

For Grade 12 student and president of Kahuy Club Kristine Sabate, the youth plays a vital role in raising environmental concern and awareness as theirs is the generation that will eventually inherit what the past generations will have left. “Responsibility towards the environment should be a priority since it will affect future generations yet we only have limited time to solve it,” she said, “what’s more frustrating is that it isn’t our fault in the first place yet we are the ones suffering from the consequences.”

Jason Abad of 12-Proactive and president of the SHS student government emphasized the importance of environmental involvement for the youth as future leaders. “We should open perspective on issues that only a few know or care to know about,” he said, “in school, we should identify our own ways to help, and eventually when we grow up as members of the society, we can contribute more. Then as a future leader, we will be able to consider them in building a platform or advocacy.”

Being his first time to participate in a climate strike, Abad admitted that his prior knowledge on environmental issues centered on the typical waste management concern. “I was enlightened about even more pressing issues such as the waste-to-energy incineration which is actually detrimental to the environment. I also learned that the coal powerplant in Davao was not even approved by the Davao LGU but since it was signed by the then president, our city government was powerless in stopping it.

Waste to Energy (WTE) refers to the process and technologies that convert non-recyclable waste into usable forms of energy including heat, fuels, and electricity, usually through the process of incineration. Green groups have expressed dissent from the waste-to-energy projects, claiming incineration would pose environmental and health hazards.

Fueling youth involvement

“We hope to bring more young people into the movement by actually talking more about it,” shared Sabate, “When we say strikes or environment, most people tend to think solely about proper waste disposal which is far very limited when the issue is wide encompassing. I guess that we could bring more of us in this spectrum of advocacy through making the movement more appealing to the youth. One of the ways to make them more intrigued and attentive to the issue is making trends about it.”

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg started the school strike movement for climate last year and has garnered support globally, both from young people and adults. In the global climate strike September this year, youth from 150 countries took to the streets to demand climate action. 

“It may seem hypocritical for others to attend only to take and share photos of their involvement,” Sabate added, “however, it still helps in making the issue more visible to the society.”

For Abad, his role as a representative is to influence students who did not participate in the event, even by promoting simple but meaningful acts. “Use tumblers instead of plastic bottles; be the catalyst for a ripple effect.” 

BED Community Extension Services head Paolo Gaudencio Naval stressed the relevance of the activity to PWC’s vision of producing empowered graduates that can leave a positive impact on society. “Our role is to guide them and give opportunity for growth and empowerment,” Naval said, “second, we want our students to bring change inside the institution. Hopefully all our efforts would be aligned—the effort of the school, the students, the community—for a larger effect of change.”

PWC through the Office of Community Extension Services continues to advocate for environmental concern and action through the Greenow Program that encompasses learning and field activities appropriate for the students and current environmental issues.