ChildFund Philippines supports youth to care for their environment

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Posted on 07/10/2024


Ever heard of an Eco-scout? 

In a small town on the eastern coast of the Philippines, a group of teenagers is relearning the way they relate to the natural world – and making strides to build local resilience to natural disasters – through a program called Project Greenlight. The project highlights the central role of youth leaders and advocates, called Eco-scouts, in driving action within their community. 

Project Greenlight, an initiative of ChildFund’s local partner organization Reina Federations of Parents Associations Inc. in partnership with the local municipal government, aims to help address environmental issues and mitigate natural disaster risks. 

“We are learning the impacts of deforestation and degradation on our community, and so we encourage other children to become better stewards of our planet,” said Diwa, one of the Eco-scouts. 

The initiative employs a classroom-to-forest approach to support the young people in taking an active role in environmental protection and conservation, efficient energy consumption, waste management, awareness raising, local policy advocacy and more. Students are taken out of traditional classroom settings and into natural environments, such as forests, wetlands or parks, to learn about environmental concepts, ecological systems and conservation practices firsthand. 

The project integrates education, community engagement and sustainable livelihood development to help the next generation of local eco-leaders address climate volatility and its risks, especially since the Philippines is prone to various climate hazards – including an average of 20 typhoons each year – due to its geographical location and other factors. “Our ultimate goal for this project is to eventually make this a national program and support more Filipino youth taking action to mitigate climate impacts,” said Erwin Peter Galido, Program Specialist on Disaster Risk Management for ChildFund Philippines. 

The project’s approaches and tools will enable individuals and communities to adapt to a changing natural environment while simultaneously promoting sustainable development. This includes the promotion of climate-smart agricultural practices, green jobs and livelihoods (e.g., zero waste stores), and renewable energy, among others. 

“We believe in the power of these young individuals to make a meaningful difference in their communities and beyond,” said Anand Vishwakarma, CEO & Country Director of ChildFund Philippines. “With Project Greenlight, we aim to work hand-in-hand with them to actively contribute as catalysts for climate action, particularly in communities vulnerable to the impacts of disasters, and for a more sustainable and eco-friendly world.”  

Bayani, another Eco-scout, said, “I apply what I learn from the project by encouraging my family to switch to more sustainable ways of living, including waste segregation, plant growing and efficient energy consumption.” He added that the project also enhanced his leadership skills to educate more members of the community about climate resilience, helping them make conscious choices that have a positive impact on the environment. 

The local government emphasizes that environmental awareness should lead to action. “It is imperative to get commitments on the ground and to act with more urgency,” said a local disaster risk reduction management officer. “By thinking globally and acting locally to adapt to our community’s needs, we can effectively utilize our resources to mitigate climate impacts.” 

ChildFund Philippines is encouraging more multi-sectoral collaborations with corporate institutions, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to expand Project Greenlight’s implementation to communities across other parts of the country. In the meantime, Eco-scouts will continue to carry their message forward.

This blog post is adapted from an article that ran locally in the Philippines. Participants' names and location have been redacted to protect their privacy.