|Youth are the Future ambassadors with SM’s Chairman of the Executive Board Mr. Hans T. Sy, SM EDD President Mr. Hans “Chico” T. Sy Jr., DENR Sec. Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, and WWF-Philippines Ambassador Xia Vigor during the media launch.|
Recognizing today’s youth’s key role as tomorrow’s guardians of the environment, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) and World-Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) have teamed up to launch YOUth are the Future, a leadership program aimed to equip young student leaders on environmental conservation, climate change, and sustainability issues.
“There is no better time than now to educate the youth. As stewards of the planet, it is important that they have an opportunity to learn about environmental conservation, encourage them to voice out their fresh ideas, and share new perspectives,” said WWF-Philippines Education for Sustainable Development Project Head Dino Calderon.
“When we provide our young student leaders with learning opportunities and expose them to practical solutions, we have a chance to help them design a sustainable future. We are committed to make sure that things change for the better,” says Hans “Chico” Sy, President of SM Engineering Design and Development Corporation (SMEDD) and SM sustainability champion.
Commencing with the grand launch on October 10, 2023, the student ambassadors from various Metro Manila high schools participated in a discovery tour around the SM Mall of Asia Complex, which features SM Prime’s sustainability efforts and disaster resiliency practices. The formal introduction of YOUth is the Future Ambassadors was held at the SMX Convention Center and along with a pinning ceremony. Leaders and representatives from SM Prime, WWF-Philippines, government agencies, and foreign dignitaries are also present at the event.
In a message she delivered during the event, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said, “Our journey is really about the race to resilience, as our climate changes, society is changing. Sustainability is our pathway to survival as a planet and that is what resilience is really about, the ability to withstand the impacts of the hazards that we know and those that we could face in the future.”
The youth ambassadors will participate in a three-day eco-camp at the Pico De Loro Beach and Country Club in November, where they will learn about waste and energy management, resource optimization, and climate mitigation and adaptation strategies from some of the country’s experts.
Renowned for its role in Olive Ridley Sea Turtle conservation, the 3-day eco camp in Hamilo Coast also serves as an immersive natural classroom in environmental conservation. The expected output from the eco-camp is a Green Manifesto that outlines their plans to effect change and a storybook module co-authored by all the participants. The program will culminate through a series of mall and school tours throughout Metro Manila to boost youth engagement and student ambassador recruitment.
In a message sent by her excellency Vice President and Department of Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte, she said, “This visionary program embodies the transformative power of education and empowerment in shaping a more sustainable and resilient future. Taking advantage of this program will give you all a head start on becoming influential figures in creating a more sustainable and ecologically aware culture.”
Together with its partners, WWF-Philippines hopes to empower young Filipinos further to become the next generation of sustainability champions. Programs like YOUth are the Future, can help future generations become proactive leaders who can #ChangeTheEnding for the planet.