The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has entered into an agreement with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila to mobilize and capacitate its students for the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources.

As part of the partnership, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu turned over 100 units of tablet computers to PUP Executive Vice President Alberto C. Guillo at the Ninoy Aquino Library and Learning Resource Center at PUP Manila last October 14.

The tablet computers were to be distributed to the “environment and natural resources (ENR) ambassadors” of one of the country’s premier state universities.

“Behavior change is difficult to achieve so we need the assistance of the education sector to help us effect change in the minds of the students and the youth, and to change their practices,” Cimatu said.

“We will be working together, and with the ENR ambassadors, you can help us in our main effort which is to clean up Manila Bay by cleaning the esteros and rivers that flow into it,” he added.

Last August 19, DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) Director Jacqueline Caancan and PUP President Manuel Muhi signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the ENR Ambassador Project.

The agreement aims to identify, capacitate and mobilize qualified PUP students to become ENR ambassadors, making them competent and credible champions of DENR programs on information, education and communication (IEC) campaign.

The students will also be tapped in the agency’s advocacy for the protection, conservation, preservation, restoration, rehabilitation and development of the environment in the NCR, including the Manila Bay region.

As ENR ambassadors, they shall teach other students on environmental issues that concern the region including pollution, resource degradation and climate change. They shall also mobilize youth support in the cleanup, rehabilitation and protection of Manila Bay.

Under the MOA, the DENR-NCR shall train the students to be its partners in the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources. It shall provide appropriate resources for use in their environmental advocacies and to expedite their communication and coordination with DENR.

The ENR Ambassador Project is a pet project of DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and Supervising Undersecretary for Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service Benny D. Antiporda, who cited the important role the youth play in the promotion of the DENR programs, projects and activities.

“These ENR ambassadors will serve as our effective partners and force multipliers in changing behavior of the people towards environmental stewardship,” Antiporda stressed.

During the MOA signing in August, Antiporda turned over 100 units of pocket LTE-WIFI as a form of assistance to the students since most universities and schools have shifted from face-to-face to online learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By supporting their education, we can harness their skills and transform them into effective environmental educators and champions,” Antiporda said. “In the future, hindi lang ang DENR ang kikilos para sa kalikasan, kundi buong bayan na.”

For its part, PUP shall screen, verify and vouch for the good standing of its students applying as ENR ambassadors. It shall also assist the DENR-NCR in monitoring and evaluating the IEC and advocacy performance of PUP ENR ambassadors and recommend improvements on the project. #