By DANNY O. CALLEJA
LEGAZPI CITY – A huge union of youth organizations in the Bicol region is into a very noble cause — preservation of the environment in support to the seventh Millennium Development Goal (MDG-7) that seeks to ensure environmental sustainability.
The union, spearheaded by alumni of Bayer Young Environmental Envoy (BYEE) has brought together 165 organizations composed of about 1,500 young people belonging to the student, professional and out-of-school-youth sectors from all over the region into a single group called BYEEnihan: Every Juan for the Environment.
BYEE is an environmental science project at work in a Bayer-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) partnership and BYEEnihan is a corruption of the Filipino term “bayanihan” that means teamwork.
The group, to instill public awareness on environmental concerns had been conducting the project Lakad at Pedal para sa Kalikasan (Walk and Pedal for the Environment) in various places across Bicol every weekend, the latest was here last January 22.
Participated in by over 1,000 hikers and bikers, the activities staged around the city started at dawn and followed by the luntiang almusalan (green breakfast) for participants who, in registering to the event turned up with used plastic bottles for proper disposal.
At the opening program held at the ball ground of the Bicol University (BU), the university president, Fay Lea Patria Lauraya along with Reynaldo Cutanda, the corporate communications manager of Bayer Philippines who has been running the BYEE program for the past three years commended the efforts of the youth in changing the local environment landscape and mindsets.
The event also dubbed here as Araw ng BYEEnihan lasted the whole day featuring other activities like the painting competition sponsored by the UNEP, photo competition, storytelling and the Forum on the Effects of Smoking to Health and the Environment facilitated by the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN).
BYEEnihan communications head Jovic Maurice Yee of the Bicol University College of Arts and Letters (BUCAL) said that the project is intended to be an ongoing activity.
Considering that 2011 has been declared International Year of the Forest, the group, according to Yee had included various tree-planting activities in its program for the environment to help the Philippines achieve environmental sustainability as part of its commitment to the MDG.
The MDGs is a set of goals set by the United Nations where member-countries like the Philippines is expected to adhere to the implementation and achievement of the targets by 2015.
The BYEEnihan, Yee said has observed achieving MDG No. 7 would be difficult without individual or community participations to endeavors for the protection and preservation of the environment.
“Environmental protection is a shared responsibility. Thus, we have been spearheaded activities towards this end, Yee added.
The Philippines’ MDGs action agenda for protecting the ecosystem, according to Yee is comprehensive, with targets for forest and upland, coastal and marine, urban ecosystem, freshwater, lowland and agricultural, minerals and biodiversity.