While thousands of students rally across Australia calling for faster action to fight climate change, this Filipino scholar is showing her support by championing sustainable development. Her aim is to bridge the gap between tackling environmental problems and policy-making.
Climate strike, like the one happening in Australia, "is one way of letting policymakers know what the thoughts and priorities of the different sectors of the society are−including the youth," says Australia Awards scholar Likha Malai Alcantara, a graduate of Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy.
While studying and gaining a deeper understanding of the connection between the environment and public policy, she believes that governments can spearhead plans in championing for the environment.
The Filipino scholar says she realises that only a few truly stand up for the environment.
"Walang masyadong nagsasalita para sa environment kasi syempre kanya-kanyang interes din 'yan ng pag-develop. Ang maganda is maipasok ang environment sa decision-making process at maisama ito kung saan ang environment ay may laban din siya sa ibang (kinds of) development, gaya ng economic development."
"Dapat magkaroon ng sustainable development kung saan ka economically mag-go-grow but at the same time mapo-protektahan mo 'yung environment," Alcantara says.
(Only a few stand up for the environment because of course, each has its own interests. What we should do is to include the environment in the decision-making process and integrate the environment with other kinds of development, such as economic development. There must be sustainable development where we benefit economically, but at the same time we can also protect the environment.)
Ms Alcantara, who has worked for the under-secretary for international environmental agreements at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), was granted the AusAward scholarship for her desire to help find a united voice in international environmental agreements for the Philippines.
"Natutunan ko sa Crawford ay maging sensitive ka sa kung ano ang ginagawa ng isa (isang sektor), anong epekto nito sa ibang sektor, at ang role ng public policy ay babalansehin niya kung saan lahat makaka-benefit ang lahat sa mga policy na ire-release,"
(What I've learned from Crawford is that you have to be sensitive to what each (sector) does, what impact it has on the other sectors, and the role of public policy is to balance it out where everyone can benefit from policies that would be created.)
After finishing her studies in Australia, Ms Alcantara is now ready to apply the skills and knowledge she learnt to contribute to the development of policies in the Philippines that will help protect the environment.
She points out that all of us, and not just the government, are responsible for protecting the environment. She says that everyone should take part and it is important that we all "work with the government and trust the process that everyone is being served out."