Climate change steals children’s futures

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Member since March 17, 2015
  • 85 Posts
  • Age 25

In December 2015, governments will meet at the UNFCCC COP21, in Paris, France, to conclude negotiations on a new international climate change agreement to significantly decrease global greenhouse gas emissions. Plan International Youth Advisory Panels in Australia, Norway, Germany and the Philippines are advocating for young people’s voices to be heard in the agreement. Here Marinel, from the Philippines, has her say…

I come from a small coastal community in the Philippines, frequently struck by typhoons.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated our village and my house was washed out. I couldn’t have imagined the typhoon would be so dramatic and that I would see the roofs of houses flying around. For three days, we just had to eat cassava. I was unable to access a bathroom and I couldn’t go to school as it had been badly damaged.

My dad is a fisherman and it affected his livelihood, too. He had no net and his pamboat was destroyed. It took some time before we were able to return to normal, but the chilling memories still remain.

Luckily I had been learning about climate change adaptation and mitigation since high school and supporting education to help young people protect themselves. I was able to use what I had learned in Plan International’s community programme to ensure my friends and family evacuated before the typhoon hit.

Educating the public

Through a Plan International-supported climate change adaptation project, my peers and I had the opportunity to educate other children and people in our communities. I found myself inside a radio booth, educating the public about the effects of climate change and ways to adapt to its effects, while discussing the science with experts.

We were able to use our creativity to raise awareness of climate change through theatre, acting, singing and dancing in our neighbouring communities. We were invited to perform in towns and at some events in our school and village.

Annually, we run an environmental camp supported by Plan International and the local municipality with more than 100 youth participants from different villages. We learn about tracking typhoons, marine biology and the impacts of climate change on coastal livelihoods.

More importantly, the camp taught us the importance of planting trees to mitigate climate change and protecting mangroves because they serve as barriers against storm surges brought on by strong typhoons.

From Philippines to Germany

I’ve even had the opportunity to spread my knowledge abroad, as I was selected to represent our community at The Plan Action Summer Camp in Germany. I never thought a girl from my village would be flying to Germany!

In the climate change workshop at the camp, I discovered how difficult it is for disabled people to cope in disasters and how vulnerable children are. I also created a project to encourage boys to participate in action on climate change adaptation, as we’d noticed there were fewer boys participating in the activities. I am planning to implement this project in our school in the Philippines and in our community during the school break.

Change starts here

I believe change must start within us. When I am given an opportunity to speak in front of anyone, I talk about climate change and how it steals children’s futures. Our future.

When governments take to the stage at COP21, in Paris, they must ensure their decisions will create a better world for us.

I want world leaders to commit to minimising the emission of greenhouse gases.

I want them to help vulnerable countries, such as my own, adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change.

COP21 will be the 21st time governments are meeting to discuss these issues, yet we are still facing the same, serious problems. How many more of these meetings need to take place before solutions are agreed and acted on?

I hope for the sake of me and my peers this will be one of the last sessions to take place.

By Marinel, 18, Plan International Philippines Climate Change Youth Advocate

Join the Plan International Youth Advisory Panels’ climate change campaign at #2065yourfuture

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