Bayer Young Environmental Envoy (BYEE) Awarding Ceremonies

President of the Philippines
During the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy (BYEE) awarding ceremonies
[August 19, 2010, Dusit Thani Hotel Manila]

Good evening.
It is an honor for me to be here with you to celebrate a decade of recognizing Bayer’s Young Environmental Envoys.
The Bayer Young Environmental Envoy (BYEE) award is our youth’s ingenuity, and is an enduring vote of confidence in the capacity of young people to contribute to nation building.
For ten years, young Filipinos have been given a unique and rare opportunity to be agents of change. Today’s awardees can bring real and lasting change by means of innovative projects that are environment-friendly.
The challenges confronting our nation today are large – they can be intimidating because no single individual or organization can overcome them on their own. But together, we can make a difference. You have to stand up and be counted, and then the power of one can become People Power. Young people who supported me during the campaign, and who I believe remain supportive of our administration understand this well. Each of us – young and old, rich and poor – has an important role to play, in science or in the arts, whichever we find interesting. In this case, you have expressed a commitment to uplifting the lives of Filipinos by addressing the consequences of environmental abuse. A mind-boggling global problem becomes a cause to which we can all contribute. Your commitment allows the Philippines to do its share by acting now.
You, as participants of this year’s Bayer awards, have already planted the seeds. The challenge is to nurture the efforts, and to involve as many people as possible. You have the track record of this program to sustain you.
There are so many of you. Close to one-third of our total population belongs to the youth. This figure redounds to 27.8 million young people who can be partners of the government in taking care of the environment; 27.8 million advocates for ending poverty; 27.8 million law-abiding citizens; 27.8 million proud Filipinos devoted to nation-building.
If you take a stand, what will remain impossible? If you join hands, imagine what will be achievable.
Your government has several ongoing projects in which young citizens can be of service to our environment, while developing their leadership potential. The DENR, for one, implements the Solid Waste Management Program, which promotes recycling, proper collection and disposal of garbage. Acts as simple as posting information about the “linis-estero” programs on social networking sites, or sending a text message to friends on when the next waste segregation day will be, are huge contributions to promoting our cause. We encourage you to join us, in whatever way possible, in these worthwhile projects.
Your youth is your greatest resource. You have the ability to respond quickly to problems and find creative ways to solve them. You have the ability to access and understand different kinds of information. Age may be a state of mind, but knowing my nieces and nephews, it’s the multitasking that often amazes me. So use the Internet, mobile phones and social networking sites at your disposal. Use them to empower others like you who are also interested in making a difference in their own imaginative way. Do it all the time, in real time, even as you do other things.
I would like to think that this event spearheaded by Bayer is just the beginning of bigger and better things to come. What started as a proposal for a college science project may soon be the solution for fuel-dependence or mitigating disaster risk. The possibilities are endless in a world where resources are scarce, where people have competing interests, and where we all have to somehow strike a balance in order for us to survive as a species.
Where we go as a country is dependent on our collective action, and everyone, most especially the youth, should do their part. Your responsibility is much greater than those who have come before you. You stand on the shoulders of ten years of young achievers. Ten years from now, you will be well on your way to standing where I am today. Ten years from now, I will be a retired public official. So I ask you to keep on doing what earned you recognition today. Having gotten this far, I, for one, have faith you will build a better world, both for your elders and yourselves. I am proud of you today not least because I expect to be even more proud of you when these awards are twenty years old.
To all our awardees, congratulations.

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