Individuals and groups are working in their own ways to make #EarthDay2016 meaningful, and are challenging people everywhere to take action
MANILA, Philippines (Apr. 23, 2016) — Taking care of the earth should be everyone’s priority, but sometimes people need a reminder of their responsibilities. Enter April 22, Earth Day.
People around the world are pledging to plant trees for Earth Day 2016, but in the Philippines, water is still a major concern.
As parts of the country continue to struggle under the effects of El Niño, groups have highlighted the effects of drought and the need to step up conservation efforts.
Plan International Philippines’ Youth Reporters, an organization of young people who survived the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Tacloban, contributed a video in partnership with child rights organization Plan International.
In the video, a child plays with water until his mother scolds him for being wasteful.
Water Alliance, an initiative by members of the business sector to address water insecurity, are also calling for the collaboration of individuals and organizations.
“We believe that there are many groups and individuals who want to do something, but are unsure of where to start and how to make an impact. Banking on the spirit of Bayanihan, when people realize that there’s a water alliance, it will inspire them to join or do their part and this will enable us to have scale and impact,” said Edgar Chua, Chairman of the Shell companies in the Philippines and of the Water Alliance.
Like the young Yolanda survivors, Water Alliance emphasized the need for water security in the Philippines.
“Water is a very limited and valuable resource, so we all have a part to play in ensuring that it is managed well in a sustainable way so that we can continue to have clean water for the future,” Chua explained.
The Philippine is still feeling the pinch, more so because of the continuing drought. The El Niño phenomenon has already compromised crops in Mindanao, sparking a farmers’ protest that killed two in Kidapawan City.
In 2011, only half of Filipino households had safe drinking water. The lack of sanitized water can lead to cholera and other water-borne diseases.
The provinces of Cebu and Bohol are in a state of calamity because of the water shortage.
Climate pact ‘Filipino youth’s success’
But there is some hope with the signing of the climate agreement. On April 22, world leaders will converge in New York to sign the Paris Agreement. Although many still find the pact lacking in some areas, many advocates call the existence of the agreement already a victory.
This success is partly due to the collective voices of the Filipinos who came together for the #NowPH (Not on Our Watch Philippines) movement. #NowPH convenor and actor Jose Sixto Dantes III congratulated the youth for their effort, and reminded them of its far-reaching effects.
“The clamor of the Filipino youth for climate action did not end in Paris. It echoes all the way to New York,” he said.
During the Paris climate talks, Dantes submitted 3 million #NowPH climate action pledges. Once the agreement comes into effect, countries must work towards meeting their targets to limit global warming to 2ºC.
In the lead-up to the talks, advocates also campaigned for the inclusion of water policies, and argued that climate change would jeopardize the already-fragile state of global water security through increased drought and poorer water quality.
While water policies did not make it into the deal, a coalition of national governments and organizations, led by the river basin management organization International Network of Basins Organizations (INBO/RIOB), formed the Paris Pact on Water and Adaptation to make water systems more climate resilient.