Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on the Filipino youth to take part in the concerted effort to protect the country’s rich biological resources against destruction and loss.

Cimatu said the young people, who constitute a large part of the country’s population, could play an active role in protecting and improving the environment for their own future and that of the succeeding generations.

“The youth must do their share in protecting our environment, as it is the lifebloood providing us food, shelter, clothing, medicine and other ecological services essential to our survival,” Cimatu said in a speech read by DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones during the recently concluded ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes’ Forum held in Makati City.

Cimatu said the youth of today are in a better position to protect their future from environmental crises, including depletion of resources and biodiversity loss.

“No one will be forever in this Earth, but our actions as global citizens are indispensable in our battle to save the environment,” Cimatu told the audience, mostly students from St. Scholastica’s College, Araullo High School and Far Eastern University.

For her part, BMB Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said everyone in the Philippines and the ASEAN has the “power and responsibility” to ensure that the gift of rich biological diversity is protected and sustainably used.

“We need everyone’s help and cooperation in ensuring that we are successful in our conservation efforts,” Rodriguez said. “We constantly need guidance and inspiration to continue our tasks.”

The symposium was the second leg of the ASEAN Biodiversity Forum, which featured ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes from Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The first leg was held in Vietnam and the third and final leg will be held in Brunei Darussalam later this year.

The forum aims to further increase public awareness on the values and conservation of biodiversity. It also seeks to inspire people to take action for biodiversity by sharing with them the noteworthy stories of ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, and promote awareness of the value of biodiversity among various audiences in the region.

Last year, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity recognized 10 biodiversity conservation advocates representing the grassroots, government, academic and business sectors during an awarding ceremony held in the country as part of the country’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit.

Former DENR Secretary and National Scientist Dr. Angel Alcala was named as among the 10 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes for his notable works in promoting the importance of coastal and marine resources protection.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Hero Award was designed to celebrate the heroism of oustanding individuals from ASEAN member states who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy efforts in their respective countries. ###