Restoring our Earth with the Earth Day Network Philippines

As we celebrate Earth Day, we take a look at the great work being done with the Earth Day Network Philippines,

Our planet is losing 4.7 million hectares of forests every year–an area larger than Denmark, and it is estimated that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

These are just a small portion of many worrisome data you can find online about how earth resources are damaged and short.

The way we treat earth every-day matters, and it matters a lot. 

For this, marking April 22- International Mother Earth Day, we spoke to Voltaire Alferez, Trustee-in-Charge, Earth Day Network Philippines (EDNP) – the largest environment movement in the Philippines.

EDNP is a network organisation of over 2000 members from different sectors of society campaigning for environmental citizenship and celebrating collectively Earth Day in the Philippines.

Alferez shares with Youth Time a short 10-step guide to eco-friendly living, and together we discuss this year’s theme.


Background and 2021 Theme

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated 22 April as International Mother Earth Day through a resolution adopted in 2009. 

However, its origins go back to the 1970s when environmental protection was not yet a priority of the national political agendas, at least not in the amount it is nowadays.

As UN webpage states, in 1992, Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by over 178 Governments at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the first major conference in which Sustainable Development was the main issue discussed by member states.

The theme for 2021 is Restore our Earth. It focuses on restoring the world’s ecosystems through natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. Including here support for local communities and areas that are disproportionately affected by environmental issues.


Earth Day in the Philippines

In 1999, Mark Dubois of Earth Day International visited the Philippines and met with environmental leaders at the residence of Ms. Odette Alcantara in Blue Ridge. 

There, he encouraged the local environmentalists to form a coalition of the green advocates and form Earth Day Network Philippines- is highlighted by EDNP.

With the birth of EDNP, preparations for Earth Day 2000 were underway. 

After months of network-building and planning, the biggest national Earth Day network was assembled with over two thousand members from the cross section of society. 

Since then, the EDNP has organised the celebration of Earth Day in the Philippines every April 22nd in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, business partners, various churches and civil society.


Restoring Earth

Initially, Alferez emphasizes that the Philippine theme is Doing our Fair Share to Restore the Earth.

“This is a call to individuals and collective responsibility in addressing environmental issues that threaten the survival of many species including humans. 

“Fair Share because all of us have our share in the world’s destruction; however, some have more than others. 

“Those that have contributed more in the environment’s destruction must share more in its rehabilitation. 

“Sadly, those that have so little in terms of destructive contribution are often the most affected.”

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Hosting Duties: Earth Day Network Philippines want you to join their webinars this week

Here Alferez points out that celebrating this day amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely different from previous years. 

“Our mission is to raise the consciousness of our people in relation to the environmental issues and to provide solutions necessary to restore the earth. 

“Hence, Earth Day 2021 will continue with a virtual Earth Day celebration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.”


Avoiding a Path of No Return

As per 2021 theme, he asserts that this is indeed a timely call. 

“The Earth has experienced so much change and transformation brought about by the technological advancements of the previous decades and centuries that now we are experiencing the effects of these changes to the Earth’s rhythms.” 

According to him, it is favourable time that we likewise use these technologies and innovate systems and processes to restore the natural balance of the Earth.

“Otherwise, we might lead a path of no return, to the destruction of all.”


10 Simple Tips to Joining the Action

But, how can one be part of the action to protect the earth and its natural resources?

Alferez shares with us a few environmental tips such as:

  1. Ensure no leaks in our pipes
  2. Use Eco-bags
  3. Go Organic
  4. Teach children about the Earth
  5. Print only when necessary
  6. Ensure your car is tuned up
  7. Use energy-saving appliances
  8. Use a glass when brushing one’s teeth
  9. Reuse materials as frequently as possible
  10. Install a dual flush toilet.

Despite challenges caused because of COVID-19 outbreak, they still expected the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary to deliver his State of the Philippine Environment Address which past DENR Secretaries has delivered every Earth Day since 2000. 

Thereafter, the Network’s President, Atty. Wigberto Tañada, will likewise deliver EDNP’s message for Earth Day 2021.

Several online activities are also lined up on that day and can be watched live on their Facebook Page: @earthdayphilippines.

Also, a webinar series every Thursday has been running all throughout the month of April.

Earth Day Network Philippines and Youth Time invite everyone to celebrate Earth Day every April 22.

Photos: Earth Day Network Philippines

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