Raiza Kiana Tiwan: Taking climate action for a sustainable and greener future
Initiative shouts power!
My generation experienced the pandemic, and no one saw it coming. Everything was put on hold, and we thought we could not do anything about it. Grateful for the initiative of the APEC economies, we came up with a youth declaration to let our voices be heard.
I have heard different testimonies from the previous delegations, and I have heard past delegations on how they gathered to draft sessions and attend summits. Then, I thought how precious that was. This year was different because we went through full virtual meetings. Fortunately, this was not a hindrance for us to be effective and rely on each other.
Spearheading the Philippine delegation for the APEC Voices of the Future (VOF) Program was indeed a milestone for me. I represented my economy and provided a Philippine standpoint to the Youth Declaration, a product of the collaborative efforts and collective voice of the youth delegates across the APEC region, which New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, accepted for Leaders’ to consider discussing in their dialogue.
Throughout the process, I met new friends from different time zones. I am confident that my batch is one of the best that has ever been part of APEC. Being able to interact and hear them share their insights and experiences in their respective economies was an eye-opening experience for me because I was able to confirm that my economy was not the only one gravely affected by the present pandemic. The APEC 2021 Delegation focused on themes such as International Cooperation to Combat COVID-19, A Greener Future, A Digital Future, and A Future for All.
I believe that old doors won’t open new ways. There is a profound need for us to join together for the betterment of our environment and our people.
Our economy is heavily riddled with environmental, economic, and societal problems deep in its borders. Loss of agricultural lands, deforestation, soil erosion, air and water pollution, improper disposal of solid and toxic wastes, loss of coral reefs, mismanagement and abuse of coastal resources, and overfishing are just some pieces of evidence of significant environmental degradation secondary to reckless human activity, further exacerbated by the country’s high annual population growth rate. Direct insufficient government support to different platforms advocating pro-green and sustainable development in the economy is lacking.
Management and evaluation are absent in their very own environment. Limitation and poor enforcement of laws and regulations also contributed to the lack of interest and urgency on these ongoing environmental issues.
To the aspiring delegates, I just want you to know that it is deceitfully untrue to say that a single voice doesn’t matter. One’s initiative creates a ripple effect for those inspired by it. YOU are needed as the time is not on our side, and we need to act fast and efficiently.