Senator Loren Legarda announces search for Youth Biodiversity Heroes Ph
Senate President Pro Tempore ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Loren Legarda delivered the keynote address at the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Forum held from 11 to 12 August in Manila, Philippines.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro Tempore and ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Loren Legarda made an earnest call to action among the Filipino youth to get acquainted with biodiversity and become heroes for nature as she announced the nationwide search for Youth Biodiversity Heroes (YBH) Philippines in the recent 2023 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Forum.
This brainchild project of Legarda is inspired by the senator’s award as an ASEAN Biodiversity Hero and in collaboration with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). “On this day, here, at the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Forum, we must recognise that the ability of the race and the species to survive and avoid extirpation lies in the hands of our youth—you, the inspiring individuals who can snatch life on the planet from the brink of extinction,” the lady senator said in her keynote speech.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Forum is organised by the ACB, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, the College of Development Communication of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), UPLB Development Communicators’ Society, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, and the Federal Government of Germany through GIZ and KfW, in celebration of the 56th Founding Anniversary of ASEAN and the International Youth Day. The forum was designed to bring together the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes (ABH) to share their conservation stories among the youth—particularly aspiring and professional development communication practitioners, storytellers, content creators, journalists, and creative writers across the region.
“ASEAN youth – those aged 15 to 35 – account for more than 33% of the region’s population. These empowered young people are drivers of positive change—they use their voices and platforms to advocate gender equality, human rights, and environmental protection. They use their talents and skills as innovators, developing modern mechanisms and technology to communicate their cause,” said Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, ACB executive director.
Recognising young biodiversity champions
Legarda delivered her message with a declaration that young individuals who simply immerse themselves in their surroundings have the ability to protect the collection of life on the planet. She expressed the role of the youth in environmental conservation and in keeping sustainable biodiversity that is in collaboration with others to successfully protect homes and communities.
“I borrow from the immortal words of Edna Mode in the inimitable movie The Incredibles, “No Cape.” “No Cape” can be an adage that we cannot be a hero by merely seeking to be one, without collaboration, leadership, and encouraging and acknowledging the contributions of others. Applying ourselves to the world will not yield desired results unless we employ the hive mind, get others’ shoulders to the wheel, join up with others, and create a community around our aspirations. As cliché as it may sound, together we will overcome”, the senator said.
In her announcement of the nationwide search, Legarda said that youths from all walks of life will be eligible to be part of this programme, which will avoid the tendency to condense the pioneer Filipino YBH only in Metro Manila. “There are too many youths to be recognised, and we want to roll this out not just to the city youths or Metro Manila youths, but especially those in the provinces, in the rural areas, in state universities and colleges, and even out-of-school youths,” she explained.
An offshoot of the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, the YBH is a recognition scheme for outstanding ASEAN youth who are active advocates of nature and biodiversity conservation. The initial staging of this recognition programme – the YBH Philippines, will honour Filipino youths who contribute to the conservation of the natural treasures in the country. The selection criteria and mechanics of the search will be launched by the Office of Senator Legarda and the ACB in due course. The nationwide search will eventually expand to an ASEAN-wide recognition for exemplary young biodiversity leaders.
ASEAN Biodiversity Hero
Legarda, along with eight other environment champions from ASEAN member states, was hailed as an ASEAN Biodiversity Hero on 2 November 2022 in Bogor, Indonesia for her contributions to legislating landmark laws on environmental governance, environmental protection, climate change, and natural resources conservation, and in communicating biodiversity.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes is a flagship programme of the ASEAN to showcase the impactful actions of distinguished ASEAN individuals whose deeds inspire more people to stand up for biodiversity. The Heroes were selected based on the relevance of their contributions to biodiversity conservation, the impact of these contributions to biodiversity conservation efforts in their respective countries and the region, the replicability of their actions, and the recognition they received in communities where they belong.