Environmental awareness and action
Conscious of the fact that education is key to awareness and action to protect our dying Earth and the guaranteed rights of our people to a “balanced and healthful ecology”, a law, Republic Act No. 9512, known as the “National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008”, required the integration of environmental education in all courses and in all academic institutions, whether formal or nonformal.
Section 3 of the law provides that “The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other relevant agencies, shall integrate environmental education in its school curricula at all levels, whether public or private, including in barangay daycare, preschool, nonformal, technical vocational, professional level, indigenous learning and out-of-school youth courses or programs.”
In said provision, environmental education shall mean to “encompass environmental concepts and principles, environmental laws, the state of international and local environment, local environmental best practices, the threats of environmental degradation and its impact on human well-being, the responsibility of the citizenry to the environment and the value of conservation, protection and rehabilitation of natural resources and the environment in the context of sustainable development. It shall cover both theoretical and practicum modules comprising activities, projects, programs including, but not limited to, tree planting; waste minimization, segregation, recycling and composting; freshwater and marine conservation; forest management and conservation; relevant livelihood opportunities and economic benefits and other such programs and undertakings to aid the implementation of the different environmental protection law.”
Republic Act No. 9512 mandates the observance this month and in November each year, of the “Environmental Awareness Month” throughout the archipelago.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources leads the nationwide celebration to promote the creation of eco-schools and eco-stewardship among our youth.
With the theme “Green Schools : Build Climate-resilient and Sustainable Communities”, these activities aim to inculcate environmental awareness among the youth and promote ways of reducing their negative impact on the environment. They focus on sharing and upscaling of good practices of environmentally sustainable communities to pave the way for the build-up of more sustainable and eco-friendly schools in the Philippines.
A National Senior Educators’ Conference on “Greening Higher Education Towards Sustainable Development Goals” will be held in Iloilo City from November 22-24, in coordination with the Philippine Association of Tertiary Level Educational Institutions in Environmental Protection and Management (PATLEPAM).
The Department of Education is also mobilizing all its division offices to encourage schools/academic institutions to become more actively involved in environmental issues.
Eight years after its enactment, has RA 9512 made a difference in raising the awareness of both students and teachers in becoming active stewards of our natural life support systems and as engaged stakeholders in protecting the rights to life, health and a healthful and balanced ecology?
Are there more educational institutions practicing sustainable management of the materials, water and air quality in their schoolyard and campuses and in reaching out to other sectors in disseminating information on forest and marine conservation, resiliency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change impacts, human rights, heritage and culture?
Three years after Super Typhoon Yolanda aka Haiyan hit our shores, are there more active engagements from stakeholders to propel our country towards the sustainable path to development?
I am happy to note that indeed there are more advocates from the citizenry and they are young and determined. Easily, Anna Oposa stands out. She, at a very young age, has already steered campaigns towards education of our youth through the SEA Camp, and protection of our oceans and specifically sharks, at local, national and global levels. She, and strong networks in the country and all over the world, made possible the declaration of not just the first-ever shark and ray sanctuary in the country here in Cebu, but helped push for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in October, 2016 to include thresher sharks classified in Appendix II. This “could improve fisheries and trade data, bolster compliance with existing protections, complement existing commitments under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and facilitate international cooperation toward more comprehensive national and regional conservation measures, thereby enhancing the chances for sustainable use.” (http://www.projectaware.org/sites/default/files/2016-09/CITES%20Thresher%204pp.FINAL_.pdf).
Another young and determined eco-warrior is Paulo Burro, for the steering leadership, with the youth and young professionals, in a Nationwide Climate Change Education Campaign, which aims to educate the youth in various schools and universities all over the Philippines, about climate change, its effects , the significance of the Paris Agreement and to empower them to take action here and now and by adopting sustainable developmental practices such as sustainable transportation, urban farming to help mitigate its effects. As part of its Nationwide Campaign, the San Beda Environmental Law Society, with the DENR, Climate Change Commission, The Climate Reality Project, and SEED Institute will be organizing a series of youth fora on climate change which will be conducted at the De La Salle University campus during the Climate Change Consciousness Week.
Hope to see you in one of the activities during the Environmental Awareness Month.
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