Student leaders from Taytay drafted environmental projects that will contribute to a climate-resilient future for their municipality.
Jude Mark Mayang, a grade 10 student leader from Bato National High School in Taytay, Palawan has been experiencing the impacts of climate change in their village and yearned to do something about it.
“It’s a serious threat because in our barangay, water has become really scarce,” he said. “Joining the Heroes of the Environment Youth Camp makes a big difference because we get to craft projects that will help our community overcome climate change,” Mr. Mayang said.
Mayang was among the 40 student leaders who joined the Heroes for the Environment Youth Camp on coastal resource management and climate change adaptation on 8-11 March at Tay Lelong’s Pension House in Poblacion.
The camp is part of the Heroes of the Environment Campaign of CTI-SEA, which aims to educate, engage, and inspire young people to protect the Coral Triangle. The Coral Triangle spans six countries and is the world’s center of marine biodiversity. It is home to 76% of the world’s coral species and 6 of 7 of the world’s marine turtle species.
Learning the value of coastal and marine resources
The students learned about climate change, endangered species, fishery laws, and coastal and marine resources management. These topics are usually not discussed in detail in the typical science curriculum but are critical for emerging leaders in coastal areas.
“These kids are very lucky for this learning experience because they will gain new knowledge and skills that they can apply in serving their communities,” said Clemencia Paduga, Education Program Supervisor of the Department of Education in Palawan.
The participating schools included Abongan National High School, Bato National High School, Busy Bees National High School, Calawag National High School, Canique National High School, Central Taytay National High School, and Pamantolon National High School.
The students also enjoyed activities and games on overfishing, threatened species, illegal fishing, and personal carbon footprint.
“The overfishing game was the most memorable activity. I’ve learned that more than the value of unity and strategy, catching small fishes is very bad because there will be a tendency that we’ll have less fish overtime,” shared Mary Rose Francisco, grade 9 student at Abongan National High School.
Youth camps as an investment in tomorrow’s leaders
The students sharpened their observation and analytical skills during a transect walk in Little Tondo, a beach area in Poblacion. CTI-SEA resource persons gave on-site mini lectures on the different types of mangroves, seagrasses, rocks, beach vegetation, coral reefs, and other marine resources.
“It is important to invest in the young ones because if they are educated and disciplined at a young age, then our natural resources will be easily conserved and protected. CTI-SEA’s campaign caters to the youth because education and discipline needs to start early on,” Benjamin Gonzales, Coastal Resource Management Specialist for CTI-Southeast Asia, said in an opening message.
After the field activity, students identified the different habitats, resources, environmental issues, and possible solutions in transect diagrams, which served as basis for their project proposals.
Tapping creativity and passion to protect the Coral Triangle
As the camp’s final output, students proposed projects to combat pollution, reforest denuded mangrove areas, and strengthen ecotourism in the municipality.
Central Taytay National High School decided to upscale their existing mangrove reforestation project to an ecotourism and education effort via social media.
Pamantolon National High School will produce posters and poems to raise awareness on solid waste management. Meanwhile, Bato National High School will plant 10,000 mangroves in Sitio Ipil and raise the awareness of the community on the importance of mangroves.
With funding support from CTI-Southeast Asia, the schools will carry out their projects starting April. Both teachers and students were inspired after listening to the projects of each school.
“I’m very inspired myself because I saw the work that Central Taytay National High School did, including the video on mangrove reforestation. We also want to achieve what they were able to do, so we will strive very hard,” said Randy Raquen from Bato National High School.
By using their voices, talents, and passion to influence their community, there is no doubt that this year’s participants will leave lasting change that will inspire future heroes of the environment.
About the Coral Triangle Initiative-Southeast Asia
CTI-Southeast Asia is a five-year (2012-2017) technical assistance to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines by the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility. It works in building the capacity of those living in coastal communities by providing them with the resources, knowledge, and skills to protect the Coral Triangle.