While there are laws in my country which are meant to protect the environment, we continue to have big problems with pollution.
When you look around most cities and municipalities in the Philippines, you see garbage everywhere.
With local people not knowing how to properly dispose of their waste, different materials mostly end up in landfills, drift out into the ocean due to heavy rains, or get burnt together in open spaces.
All of these affect our climate in a negative way – and what we humans consider convenient is actually turning into our own nightmare.
This is why I’m taking part in the Youth Power Hacks.
For me, sustainability and innovation are incredibly important – and my interest in these spaces began over 10 years ago, when my father started working on recycling leftover rice husks into fuel for household and cottage industry cooking. Over time, and through different experiences at university and work, I’ve come to realise that if the Philippines does not start focusing on the environment and climate action, there is going to be a difficult road ahead.
I’m mainly concerned as my country is susceptible to extreme weather events. In part, this is because we are geographically located near the equator – but there are also clear links to global warming. It regularly reaches over 40°C in the summertime, where in the worst case we experience droughts – but we also have periods of very intense and heavy rainfall. Nonetheless, the most damaging occurrence is typhoons – which have claimed thousands of Filipino lives, and destroyed cities and municipalities.
In the Philippines, land, air and water pollution is still rife – especially in Metro Manila, our capital which is home to around 20 million people. My country’s problem primarily exists due to both domestic and industrial waste, especially near squatter areas where basic infrastructure is inadequate. But what’s surprising is that even in communities which have Material Recovery Facilities and strict implementation of segregation at source and proper collection, most municipal solid waste is still either dumped in landfills or incinerated openly.
I believe that the adverse effects of pollution can only be improved if every Filipino comes together – local communities efficiently managing their own waste, local governments partnering with energy-generation companies to turn collected municipal waste into energy, and FMCG producers being responsible for the reuse of their product packaging.
With all of this in mind, my team from the Philippines Hack has come up with a solution that is centred on partnering with local government units and private companies to orchestrate a solid waste management system within local communities. This would involve households, displaced jeepney and tricycle drivers, as well as junk shops and urban gardens developing new income streams, and local governments also benefiting from lower waste management costs.
Over the past few months, the Youth Power Panel has been working with Restless Development, Project Everyone, and Unilever to deliver the Youth Power Hacks: six online hackathons held in six countries, bringing together hundreds of young people to hack solutions to help get the Global Goals delivered.