Sustainability starts with the individual

“Your contribution as an individual is more important,” said Joselin Marcus E. Fragada, as he began his keynote speech at the 2nd Manila Bulletin Sustainability Forum 2023 (Sustainability Forum 2023) with the theme If Not Now, When?: Addressing the Urgency to Go Sustainable at the Malcolm Hall on Nov. 21.

Fragada is the undersecretary for field operations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). He represented DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga at the forum.

Fragada. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

“[The theme] If Not Now, When? is very timely, because the students—the youth—play a very vital role in the protection of our environment and our natural resources. It always starts from an individual, not just a group who were told to come and do something about it,” Fragada explained further.

Fragada’s speech was about DENR’s role in terms of sustainability.

Issa Litton, the forum’s moderator, said DENR has always been at the forefront of advocating sustainability programs in the country and was invited at the forum to shed more light on their activities and programs concerning sustainability.

According to Fragada, the Philippines has been ranked as among the countries at most risk of climate change and disaster, as it frequently faces hazards like earthquakes, typhoons, and volcanic eruptions.

“The DENR is working towards climate resiliency on the local and community levels, especially in climate-vulnerable areas. The DENR is currently pushing for nature-based solutions that are sustainable for both the environment and communities. Additionally, we are tapping the capacities of various stakeholders through the national and municipal levels on programs and projects to sustain gloomy green economies,” he said.

Presently, the DENR embarked on a new program called Project Transform.

Fragada explained the project was introduced in three areas: Ormoc City, Leyte, Bataan, and Siargao, Surigao.

“Project Transform or Transdisciplinary Approach for Resilience in Environmental Sustainability Through Multistakeholder Engagement piloted in Ormoc City. The project engages the whole of society and implemented initiatives to improve community resilience, alleviate poverty, promote public-private partnership, and forge stronger multistakeholder collaborations. It will support the DENR’s resiliency framework by delivering environmental, social, and economic aid for local governments nationwide,” he said.

Fragada added that the project is a testament to DENR’s commitment to disaster resiliency and environmental sustainability through partnerships with the local government units (LGUs) and the private sectors.

He then encouraged the audience to engage in more collaborative projects as DENR’s successful programs are products of collaboration.

“The more effective projects that we have are programs that have been collaborated on by the different agencies, LGUs, and the private sector,” Fragada said.

In closing his message, Fragada addressed the students in the audience and encouraged them to participate in the sustainability movement.

“I urge you to step into the forefront of the sustainability movement. Your energy, passion, and innovative thinking are powerful catalysts for positive change. Embrace opportunities to engage in environmental initiatives whether it is through activism, volunteering, or joining youth-led organizations. Be the driving force behind sustainable practices in your community, schools, and beyond. Your actions today contribute not only to a healthier planet but also to a resilient and sustainable future for generations to come. Remember the small steps you take today can lead to giant leaps for a sustainable environment,” Fragada said.

Sustainability Forum 2023 continues the goal of Manila Bulletin to actively engage the public to make contributions to sustainable practices.

The forum tackled the concept of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) through the discussions and insights of corporate partners.

Cu-Unjieng. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

“We felt there would have to be a forum where you basically put all these different companies together, because at the end of the day, it’s really about cooperation. It’s really about working together in a multisectoral cooperative way to make things go forward,” said Philip Cu-Unjieng, the forum project head.

He added “We want… the public and especially the youth to talk about and make a stand about it [sustainability]. You have to be proactive about what is going to happen because it is your future.”

The forum, held until Nov. 22, had 16 participating organizations. Four sustainable development goal (SDG) themes were discussed at the forum featuring the participating organizations. On Nov. 21, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy were the forum’s themes. Meanwhile, SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities were the themes on Nov. 22.

Watch the video recording for the day 1 of the forum at https://fb.watch/ovLFNkOGSH/?mibextid=NnVzG8.

The forum was hosted by the UP Diliman (UPD) Office of the Chancellor and the UP Law Center Institute of Government and Law Reform in partnership with the Manila Bulletin.

Forum participants. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO