DIGITAL ENVIRONMENTAL CARAVAN: A screenshot of the participants’ Zoom gallery with City SK Federation President Myka Mabelle Magbanua, WPU Vice-President for Research, Development, and Extension Dr. Benjamin Gonzales, together with the resource persons Kristin Kim Sequihod and Jenevieve Hara, and some organizers of the digital caravan during the virtual photo-op on September 17, 2021.

Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) council members from various barangays in Puerto Princesa City and various municipalities in Palawan, as well as other youth groups, attended the digital caravan, “The Youth and the Biosphere: The Palawan, Philippines experience” to raise their awareness on environmental issues.

Held on September 17 via Zoom and Facebook Live, the virtual event was a joint initiative of the Western Philippines University (WPU) and Tanggol Kalikasan (TK), with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of the Interior-International Assistance Program (US-DOI-ITAP), and in partnership with the Office of Puerto Princesa SK Federation President Myka Mabelle Magbanua, and the Office of the Palawan Provincial SK Federation President Anyatika Rodriguez.

Magbanua highlighted some of the environmental projects that her office, in collaboration with the SK councils, is implementing in several barangays across the city: the plastic bottle swap program, tree planting, and urban gardening, among others.

She also discussed her five-point environmental plan, which includes protection, preservation, and restoration, as well as reject, finance, and maintain.

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On the other hand, Rodriguez said, “Everyone has a shared responsibility in protecting our environment.” 

Rodriguez also presented some of the best practices that provincial SK leaders have been doing to protect Palawan from environmental threats.

Philippine Navy Officer Kristine Kim Sequihod spoke on youth opportunities and challenges in protecting the country’s territory and conserving natural resources in the West Philippine Sea, while Jenevieve Hara, a doctorate fellow at the University Antwerp and Ghent University in Belgium, spoke on “Best practices for the sustainable biosphere: Youth versus the Environment.”

Hara challenged the audience participants to start their initiative, which may begin with modest lifestyle adjustments such as carrying their tumblers instead of purchasing another bottle of water or joining an environmental organization.

For the part of WPU, both University President Dr. Julie Hope Timotea Evina and Vice-President for Research, Development, and Extension (RDE) Dr. Benjamin Gonzales emphasized the importance of environmental awareness among the youth as stewards of the country’s natural wealth.

They agreed that awareness-raising efforts are essential to help young people realize their roles in protecting the biosphere.

Lawyer Asis Perez, the in-country representative of US DOI-ITAP and senior legal adviser of TK, stressed the need for the young people to understand not only the environmental crises but also the issues concerning the country’s sovereign rights over its territories. “When young people are informed, they can defend what is due to them,” he added.

In attendance were 134 SK council members from PPC and various municipalities of Palawan among other youth groups in the province. Ten of them won cash prizes, courtesy of the WPU-RDE Office.

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