Dear Future Leaders, Take it from these Youth Champions Who are Walking the Talk to Show the Power of the 52 for a Better Normal

Narratives & Perspectives

Counting down the days until we elect the nation’s leaders who will take an oath and see us through in the next six years, the youth is taking matters into their own hands, airing their thoughts and making a case for a future where people and planet come first.

Natural disasters such as typhoons, wildfires, and droughts have made it evident that the choices that we make today have their own ripple effect on the environment and eventually to the people inhabiting it—now and in future generations. With this, it is important to take into account the decisions and impact that we, as a society, make.

We have seen it all. Like scenes lifted from any disaster epic played on the big screen, scientists and climate activists are always in search of an audience, urging the powerful and the moneyed to heed their call, but only gets listened to at the last minute. The more alarming thing is that we are not in the movies anymore.

For this reason, Greenpeace Philippines, in its continuing thrust in going beyond raising awareness on environmental issues but also seeking to take concrete actions, recently presented the Love, 52 Movement—a call for our future leaders to work towards a brighter and greener future amid a looming, all-important national elections. The movement writes, “The youth, comprising 52% of the total voting population, will be playing an important role in electing the right leaders and consequently, shaping a future that’s green, just, livable, and lovable.”

Love, 52 creates a platform for the youth for their statements and voices, to call for the country’s future leaders to choose the better and greener options. More resoundingly so, the messages collected by the movement serve as a challenge and call for reform directed to those vying for positions in government, who will steer the wheel in the next six years of the new administration, to come up with concrete, actionable plans concerning the environment to secure the country and its future generations of Filipinos’ futures.

Encouraging speeches and promises are one thing, but what does standing up for climate justice really mean? For Greenpeace, it is by putting a finger on the problem and acknowledging that loss of livelihoods, communities, and loved ones are impacting those who are least responsible for the climate crisis. In identifying this, big polluters such as fossil fuel companies coming from developed nations, should be held accountable.

The Philippines, a country known for its biodiversity and rich natural resources, is facing various environmental issues that can be largely attributed to the harmful political and economic practices for profit. This is made apparent by the state of the country’s forests and reserves as well as the ever-pervading pollution in our rivers and lakes especially surrounding urban areas. For years on end, these issues have been raised but remained unchecked.

Mitzi Jonelle Tan of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines poses this challenge, “We all know that the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the climate crisis, and for this reason, we cannot go on like this, only with band-aid solutions every time there are typhoons, crises, droughts, and times when the Filipino people are suffering. We need actual plans for climate justice, political will to step up and say no to imperialist plunder that keeps on destroying our environment that makes the people suffer. We need a leader who can fight for us and prioritize people and the planet and not profit.”

“The Love, 52 project took every height of impossibilities of making the platforms, the wishes, and the needs of the Filipino youth to be heard in the 2022 elections. In the past few weeks, we have seen several candidates talk about climate change yet none of them, or maybe [just] a few of them mentioned concrete platforms on what they want to do to secure the future of the young people, the majority of the voting population in this coming [elections],” says Iloilo activist Carmela Adelantar of the National Society of Parliamentarians, Inc. She adds, “Our future is in your capabilities to lead and in your commitment and passion in nation-building. We rely and put our future in your hands.”

“To all the presidential candidates, I hope that after the elections, we will be as one in protecting our planet, because the climate crisis is not partisan. So, whoever will win during the election, will really have a great role and responsibility in making sure that we will have a livelihood and planet to live on in the future,” advocacy officer for ecological justice and youth engagement of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, Marinel Ubaldo challenges this year’s public office aspirants.

Shifting the focus among the youth and the public in general from partisanship and personality-driven decision-making, it is of high value now, more than ever, that fundamental issues be brought to the fore and for this reason, Love, 52 and Greenpeace Philippines highlights why your vote matters.

“As we conclude the delivery of the love letters written by the Love, 52 movement, which represents the youth from different parts of the Philippines, we call on the candidates to commit to a vibrant democracy that will enable climate and environmental justice, which means that they [should] formulate coherent strategies that will urgently address climate crisis and worsening issues across various sectors,” highlighted Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Joanna Sustento.

With these strides taken to a more sustainable future, it is with hope that the youth’s efforts will influence and convince not only the leaders who are going to take the podium of the country to address and place importance on the pressing issues surrounding the environment and climate but every Filipino inhabiting the planet.

And as Greenpeace Philippines emphasizes, the future is 52!

With additional text by Leo Balante