Joy Baldo, Local Pathways Fellow (Manila, Philippines), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative
The 9th World Urban Forum, for me, was the highlight of my journey as a Local Pathways Fellow, for two main reasons: firstly, it provided a platform where we got to showcase youth-led initiatives to an international audience and connect with several other professionals and organizations for potential partnerships; and secondly, it was the first and the largest gathering of the inaugural fellows along with the Local Pathways Project Team. Indeed, it was inspiring to meet other dynamic and passionate young leaders who embody what it means to be a ‘local SDG advocate’. I am truly thankful to the SDSN Local Pathways Fellowship for this unique opportunity to learn more about the work of other SDG advocates around the globe and, also, share my experiences.
As a Fellow, my focus is on empowering the youth to champion climate action and disaster resilience to contribute towards the achievement of SDG 13.3 (improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning).
The Philippines is among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which is further exacerbated by our lack of capacity and resources. Having a young population, with more than half aged 15 to 30 years old, the Filipino youth can play a tremendous role as catalysts to lead a movement towards climate action and disaster resilience in their communities. So, why not harness the youth’s potential and use their ingenuity? With this premise, we worked with the YesPinoy Foundation in partnership with the City Government of Marikina in implementing the project Young, Empowered, and Service-Oriented Filipinos. Marikina City is highly vulnerable to natural disasters with 80% of its area flood prone and 70% prone to liquefaction.
Through this project, a pioneer group of volunteer students called YES!Pinoy Movers, from both public and private schools, was created as a breeding ground for young leaders to flourish and lead initiatives in their own communities. They can also serve as advocacy partners of their schools and other relevant institutions in implementing other environmental and socio-civic activities.
The project is still in its, infancy stage; however, the ultimate goal is for these youth leaders to create more leaders by connecting with other youth organizations throughout the country and building a network of Young, Empowered and Service-Oriented citizens through the exchanges of information, innovative ideas, and resources.
While we may have the most creative, and dynamic youth leaders championing for sustainable development we still need political and financial instruments to create a bigger platform and build momentum. We will continue to push our political leaders to invest in our youth and support us through policies that will create an environment that encourages youth participation and involvement in decision-making.