Thursday, October 11, 2018

International Coastal Cleanup Environmental Summit 2018: Engaging the youth for a sustainable future

Plastics accumulating in our oceans is one of the greatest environmental challenges that the world faces today. Every year, millions of pounds of plastic waste flow into the oceans from the coastal region. If present trends continue, it is expected that it will outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.

This threat demands an aggressive action, which only a few organizations and countries are taking. The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), a global movement celebrated every third Saturday of September yearly and being participated by more than 100 countries across the globe including the Philippines, is doing its best to encourage communities towards one common goal: collect and document the trash litters in the coastline.

Last September 27 and 28, the ICC Philippines held its annual ICC Environmental Summit, a supplement to the annual beach cleanup at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC.)

“Our Vision is that none of our packaging ends up in the landfills or as litter. By 2025, 100% of our packaging will be recyclable or reusable,” said Jess Reyes, VP for Corporate Affairs of Nestle Philippines.

“We are guided by our ambitions to enable and inspire a positive impact how people interact with their environment. For us, it becomes imperative that we change how we do our business and operate more sustainably.” said Ana Legarda, Head of Communications of Proctor & Gamble Philippines.

“PARMS symbolizes what is possible if we all work together towards a common goal. We are very happy to partner with them this year and allowing us to learn, understand and be inspired by what their organization is about” said Avecilla. During the program, the present members of PARMS together with its President Crispian Lao and Vice-President Bert Guevara signed a pledge wall witnessed by Senator Cynthia Villar for their commitment to protect and preserve our environment.

Millennials and the environment
The theme for this year’s summit, “Change Heroes,” is a challenge for the youth to be an instrument in sparking social consciousness formation towards social change to become better builders of our nation. It aims to teach the youth about their communities and how they will act to resolve problems by providing them with relevant information.

The organizers believe that the new generation – millennials – to be the most powerful force of our future. One of the highlights of this 2-day activity was the SK Empowerment Train Camp which was a specialized workshop for a selected group of SK officers from Olongapo, Zambales, and Bataan. The workshop aims to capacitate young leaders from the targeted areas in leading young people towards development through projects beneficial to each of their communities. The workshop ended with a “Hack-a-pack” challenge by Coca-Cola where these group will compete as teams in coming up with ways on how to properly recover the recyclables in their community. Each team from each area were given PHP 15,000.00 cash prize from Coca-Cola Foundation. “As part of our World Without Waste campaign, we will collect every bottle and aluminum cans that we sell. However we recognize that the best way to find the solution for this is to ask the youth and this is what this Hack-a-Pack is about” said Gilda Maquilan, Sustainability & Community Affairs Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines.

The road to sustainability is long and challenging. It involves changing people’s behavior combined with the right system and infrastructure, but most of all, we all need to do our part and work together. “We all have the power to make a change. As a consumer, you can vote with your money. You can choose to do business with companies that are doing something good to the planet.” said Avecilla. “Now is the time to be more active and challenge the norms. Use your creativity and be positive with your approaches. There are many solutions out there, we just need to put our heads together,” said Bert Guevara, Vice President of PARMS.

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