MANILA — Youth leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to form a region-wide network of youth leaders to serve as a knowledge management platform for sharing best practices and ongoing climate actions in the region.
This was the result of the three-day “Not on Our Watch ASEAN” (#nowASEAN) Conference held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on November 23-25.
The ASEAN youth leaders will recommend the creation of the Southeast Asian Youth in Climate Action Network (SAYCAN) to the 2018 ASEAN Leaders Summit.
Young men and women representing ASEAN member countries affirmed their commitment to fight the disastrous effects of climate change through the #nowASEAN movement—formerly #nowPH—which was spearheaded by the Philippines for the ASEAN.
Representatives of the country’s 17 regions and other ASEAN youth from neighboring Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand among others, took part in consultative meetings and the formulation of policies designed to empower the youth to take action and continue the advocacy of caring for the environment and avert the harmful effects of climate change.
National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Cariza Seguerra highlighted the #nowASEAN’s achievements and hopes that all the participants will be able to sustain the initiative.
“I’m proud of what we have accomplished for the ASEAN in the past year, particularly for the NYC. The young participants showed a lot of enthusiasm but I hope this will not end here. I am looking forward to seeing results,” Seguerra said.
During the #nowASEAN campaign, youth leaders, youth-serving organizations, government agencies, and development partners were rallied in gathering pledges to call on their leaders to take decisive action against climate change.
“It’s the youth who will eventually take over,” said Assistant Secretary Evelyn Cruzada of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). “All these pledges are theirs to keep and the vigor to pursue their aspirations.”
The conference had a lasting impact on its participants like Tual Sawn Khai, a 26-year-old Livestock and Rural Development officer at the Ministry of Agriculture of Myanmar. Khai lamented that in his country, people are so carefree and unaware of the implications of climate change.
“Some adults casually throw their cigarette butts and other trash on the street, which causes blockages of drains and pollution. When I go home, I will help in educating my countrymen,” he said.
Shaul Haizal Rozak from Malaysia was grateful to learn a lot from the conference and hoped that the activity should be held yearly.
“I am overwhelmed by the experiences of Filipinos, who have been through so many calamities and disasters over the years. It was good to see different perspectives and become part of the solution for this global problem,” Rozak said.
Not only did the conference benefit the able-bodied youth but also persons with disabilities (PWD), like 21-year-old Abdulaziz Dapilin from Zamboanga. Dapilin is visually impaired.
“I am thankful that #nowASEAN counted on the support of PWDs despite our physical conditions. Even as PWD, we can still help in spreading awareness and finding solutions to climate change and develop programs that will respond to the needs of PWDs, especially in times of disasters,” Dapilin said.