Two environmentalists from global conservation organizations encouraged Ateneans to uphold environmental sustainability through outspoken advocacy and sustainable seafood alternatives during the fourth Ecotalk installment held on December 18 at the Faura Audiovisual Room
Earth Island Institute Regional Director Trixie Concepcion tackled the importance of environmental advocacy, while Best Alternatives Campaign Head and Reader’s Digest Opinion Leader Gregg Yan discussed viable alternatives for the seafood and marine aquarium trades.
Ecotalk, a flagship project of the Ateneo Environmental Science Society, is an annual series of lectures conducted by professionals on various environmental issues.
Titled “Elevating Environmentalism from Fad to Standard,” Ecotalk 4 aimed to address pressing issues about the environment and to offer practical solutions for these problems.
In her lecture, Concepcion stressed the need for environmental advocates given the onset of climate change.
“Like it or not, the environment is going to be a big issue for us and our children. It just depends on where you are in the spectrum and advocacy for the environment and climate change,” she said.
Concepcion claimed that “anyone who seeks change from the present status quo is an environmentalist,” adding that technical background in the field is not as necessary as the passion for the work.
“Environmental issues are not just technical issues. It is about people, it is about culture, it is about politics, and these move together all at the same time,” she said.
She added, “How you win your issue is if you can navigate all these different aspects of an environmental problem. So you need to keep learning,”
Moreover, Yan discussed his Best Alternatives Campaign project, which promotes the reduction in the collection and consumption of non-sustainable marine resources in favor of those that are more renewable and profitable.
He also expressed the campaign’s stand against the illegal harvest of marine curiosities, including those that are protected by the law, for commercial purposes.
“What we want to do with the Best Alternative Campaign is to be able to restore balance by making sure fish, invertebrate and other curio trades are sustainable,” Yan said in a mix of English and Filipino.
In an interview with The GUIDON, Concepcion said the youth is most affected by current environmental issues.
“In many developing countries like the Philippines, it is the youth that is actually suffering [from] environmental issues… It’s the kids who die because there’s lack of food, lack of proper nutrition in [evacuation] shelters,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She further added that the middle class youth have the most influence in promoting environmental causes because they have the resources. They also tend to be more eloquent in expressing their opinions.
“If the middle class start saying, ‘No, we’re not going to consume anything unsustainable. No, we’re not going to buy anything that destroys the environment,’ it’s going to make all of these corporations, these companies to rethink about their marketing, rethink about where they’re getting their raw materials, rethink about how they’re manufacturing their product,” said Concepcion.
In his talk, Yan also stated how consumers can help in promoting sustainability of marine resources.
Yan explained that seafood caught and farmed responsibly is a sustainable food source, especially because it is “the cheapest source of protein around.”
“Sobrang cheap ng isda. Pero you have to do [fishing] right. Kasi kung sisirain mo ‘yong dagat para lang makapakain ng mga tao, hindi siya magiging sustainable in a five-, 10- or 15-year period (Fish is very cheap. But you have to do fishing right. Because if you are going to destroy the ocean just so you can feed people, it’s not going to be sustainable in a five-, 10- or 15-year period.),” he said.
Yan added that consumers should be more aware and involved in the preservation of marine life lest these resources become extinct.
“If we don’t change the way we view the world now, we will lose our resources and there’s a possibility that we’d only get to see them on Google,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.