Over 1,000 Dumaguete youth are expected to gather at Foundation University in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental today to learn from and share ideas and experiences with youth leaders from Zero Waste model communities across the country during the 5th Zero Waste Youth Convergence.
Held as part of the Zero Waste Month celebration, this year’s convergence, hosted by War on Waste Negros Oriental (WoW NOr) and Foundation University, highlights successful Zero Waste programs in some communities in the country, and the role that the youth play in these programs.
In Dumaguete, the youth are among those actively campaigning for waste reduction and management. Silliman students recently launched a campaign called STRAW WARS which calls for resort and cafeteria owners to do away with straws. Another initiative is the Plastic-Free Dumaguete, a beach cleanup held every Saturday. Supported by Wow NOr and other groups, this initiative was started by a twelve-year-old: Miguel Teves, a 6th grader at Southdale Integrated School.
“Solving Dumaguete’s waste crisis requires changing human behavior and one of the ways to do it is through the youth. It is an enlightened youth that can move their elders to change, sustain Zero Waste, and make it integral to the culture for generations to come,” said Merci Ferrer, co-founder of WoW NOr.
Filipino youth have been actively campaigning for ecological solid waste management. During the first-ever Zero Waste Youth Festival in 2012, participants which composed mostly of youth, passed a Zero Waste youth declaration which, among other demands, called for the declaration of a national Zero Waste Month. Two years later, then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III signed Proclamation No. 760 to commemorate Zero Waste Month every January. These celebrations have led to various activities highlighting zero waste practices through school caravans, conferences, and youth camps.
In 2017, young leaders spearheaded a petition urging lawmakers to pass a national law banning single-use plastic bags. The petition, which was started during the 4th Zero Waste Youth Convergence, has since gathered almost 40,000 signatures.
Since a bill on national plastic bag ban is still pending in the Senate, the signature campaign in support of the bill will be part of this year’s Zero Waste Youth Convergence.
“Giving responsibility to the youth empowers them to help and contribute in solving the waste problem,” said Froilan Grate, president of Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) and regional coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) for Asia Pacific. “It allows them to fully understand that what they are doing is vital to the city’s Zero Waste goal.”
The Zero Waste Youth Convergence is one of the activities lined up for the Zero Waste Month celebration. GAIA Asia Pacific and MEF will gather city and barangay leaders on January 17-18 for the Zero Waste Cities Meeting; EcoWaste Coalition will hold a Zero Waste Forum on January 26 in Quezon City; and MEF will recognize unsung Zero Waste heroes in its annual Waste Workers Appreciation Day on January 28.
On top of these activities, GAIA Asia Pacific has an ongoing social media competition, the #WaysToZeroWaste2018 photo contest which encourages Zero Waste practitioners and even those who are just starting their journey to Zero Waste to share how they practice Zero Waste through photography and inspire others to do the same. The competition runs until January 31 and is open to everyone in the Asia Pacific region. Weekly finalists will receive Zero Waste kits. The major prize is a free travel to Bandung, Indonesia and a pass to the International Zero Waste Cities Conference on March 5-9, 2018. Details of the competition are available at: http://www.no-burn.org/ways-to-zero-waste-photo-contest/.
For more information, please contact:
Sherma E. Benosa, Communications Officer, GAIA Asia Pacific’; +(63) 0917-8157570; firstname.lastname@example.org