The first official day of the regional conference started with a bang as host organisers, together with the Ormoc City government, formally welcomed the 300+ young leaders and delegates, showcasing the Philippines’ warmth and hospitality.
Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez officially welcomed the delegates and partners. Together with the councillors and officers of the city government, she handed out plaques of appreciation to the organisers for trusting the city to host the conference. YOUNGO Representatives Xam Northcott, Elizabeth Gulugulu and UN WMO Director for Services Johan Stander provided remarks to open the programme.
Day 2 featured a panel discussion on the current state of the climate and water in Asia and the Pacific. Various officials from YOUNGO, UN1FY, UN WMO, and other organisations discussed trends, opportunities and challenges surrounding climate and water issues. The British Council then hosted a one-hour session highlighting the importance of language education to climate education.
British Council in the Philippines Head of Education Pierre Pecson and British Council in Indonesia Director for English, Education and Society Colm Downes focused on the ASEAN Youth Engagement on Climate Research Project. They highlighted the importance of TV, radio and social media to increase awareness on the climate crisis, and noted the value of teachers’ interest on the subject matter.
A thematic breakout session followed, focusing on different themes and elements that would build the Youth Declaration. The breakout sessions were on:
- Youth representation and engagement
- Climate change in the water sector, water access, sanitation
- Governance, policy and management
- Awareness and capacity
Through the breakout session, delegates learned and shared insights on the different themes and built collaborations and connections with fellow participants.
Highlighting the week-long conference was the Governor’s night. Hosted by the provincial government of Leyte, performers and artists proudly featured the rich and diverse culture of the Philippines, particularly the Eastern Visayas region.
Mid-week of RCOY, a tree planting activity was held at Lake Danao, a protected area of Ormoc City. International delegates appreciated the pristine environment at the lake as they conducted the carbon offsetting activity. After the tree planting, delegates had a short but sweet fellowship to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the lake. After the activity, delegates went back to the Superdome to listen to another plenary session, focusing on climate financing, climate ambition, research and capacity building.
In the afternoon, local delegates drafted the Youth Declaration. International delegates proceeded to the Baybay and Naungan Coastal Areas for another carbon offsetting activity through mangrove planting. Most had to walk barefoot through mud to reach the mangrove planting area to show commitment to protecting the planet. By night-time, everyone was working on their declarations.
On the last day, delegates travelled to the beautiful city of Baybay and received a warm welcome from the city’s cultural dancers at their Convention Center. Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari welcomed the delegates and highlighted the youth’s role in responding to the climate crisis.
The National Youth Commissioner for Visayas Assistant Secretary Christine Lim Escober-Cari also welcomed the delegates and introduced the commission’s plans to mobilise the Filipino youth in responding to the crisis. Representatives from UN WMO, UN1FY, and YOUNGO also encouraged the youth to act for water and climate. The delegates also learned about the intersectionality of peace and climate crisis to the development of our country.
To close the plenary sessions, speakers and organisers summarised insights and comments for all sessions, including the session of the British Council. A short caravan and rolling tour followed for the delegates to enjoy the city of Baybay.
RCOY ended with the launching of the youth declarations tackling all the thematic areas. It was followed by more fellowship activities, festive music and dancing. Despite the long ride back to Ormoc, the delegates enjoyed their last night together and brought new light to act on the climate crisis.
Congratulations to everyone for a successful conference! May this event be a catalyst for us in acting for water and climate.