The Young Southeast Asian Youth Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA) Camp, a project of Save Philippine Seas (SPS) and the US Embassy in Manila, begins on June 6 and runs until June 12, coinciding with UN World Oceans Day, Coral Triangle Day, and Philippine Independence Day. The YSEALI SEA Camp aims to empower Filipino youth aged 18 to 23 to play bigger roles in conservation.
Twenty-five participants from across the Philippine archipelago have been chosen from a competitive pool of over 400 applicants. They will undergo an intensive leadership and environmental education program packed with fun and educational activities, such as panel discussions, workshops, snorkeling, and site visits to key sites on the island.
On the last two days of the SEA Camp, the participants will pursue four projects in Boracay: a waste management initiative that aims to reduce the use of straws and sachets; an art workshop with indigenous peoples; a “gamified” environmental education activity with children; and an environmental law compliance audit.
“The SEA Camp is a great avenue to expand my horizon about saving the sea and environment. In my local community, people are not aware about ways to save the seas. This motivates me to be involved because we are not just talking about today, but our future, and the future of the next generation,” said NurTaup, a SEA Camper from Maguindanao.
In the last decade, Boracay has been recognized as one of the world’s best beaches. The enormous growth of the tourism industry has resulted in various environmental and economic pressures on the island’s resources. The weekend of April 30 to May 2, 2015, called “Laboracay,” left approximately 201 kg. of non-biodegradable wastes, while 102 kg. of debris were collected from the sea. A study conducted from 2010 to 2015 by Japanese and Filipino scientists revealed that the coral cover has declined by about 70.5 percent in the past 23 years.
“Boracay presents some of the biggest challenges that conservationists face, and we believe in the potential of the Filipino youth to create trailblazing and feasible solutions,” shared Anna Oposa, SEA Camp Founder and SPS executive director.
At the end of the camp, the participants are also expected to propose an environmental project that can be implemented in their respective communities. The best proposals will be given funding by the US Embassy, in addition to assistance and guidance from local partners and SPS.