Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9512, also known as the “National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008”, declared the month of November as National Environmental Awareness Month to promote awareness, especially among the youth, on the importance of protecting the environment and natural resources and the sustainable growth and development of our country.

Signed in December 2008, R.A. 9512 specifically called for the “integration of environmental education in school curricula at all levels, whether public or private, including in barangay daycare, preschool, non-formal, technical vocational, professional level, indigenous learning and out-of-school youth courses or programs”.

The law defined “environmental education” broadly as to include environmental concepts and principles; environmental laws; the state of the international and local environment; local environmental best practices; the threats of environmental degradation and its impact on human well-being; the responsibility of the citizenry to the environment; the value of conservation, protection and rehabilitation of natural resources; and, the environment in the context of sustainable development.

It also said that the method of teaching should cover both theoretical and practicum modules comprising of activities, projects, programs that include, among others, tree planting; waste minimization, segregation, recycling and composting; freshwater and marine conservation; forest management and conservation; relevant livelihood opportunities and economic benefits.

More than a decade or so after the passage of the law, the need for continuously educating and engaging the youth and general public on environmental issues has become all the more urgent. Our country, to name but one of the many pressing environmental issues of the day, has been tagged as the world’s third-largest source of plastic leaking into the ocean and has among the highest trash collection rates in Southeast Asia. This, surely, is a cause of concern, stemming mainly from the lack of awareness on the part of the public on the impact of their decisions and actions on our environment.

The increasing frequency of super typhoons devastating the country is also a cause of concern, unaware as most of us are, if not vehemently resistant to increasing scientific evidence that the way we live—our simplest of decisions like what to eat, wear, and use—contribute a lot to climate change.

In response to the challenges posed on environmental education, DENR National Capital Region is stepping up its efforts by maximizing the potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The regional office, in particular, is expanding its use of popular social media platforms to communicate its message and information and to encourage the public as well through its ENR Ambassadors program to create environment-themed content.

DENR National Capital Region is also strengthening its partnership with schools, barangays, and organizations from both the public and private sector at the grassroots level in the conduct of environment-related webinars and activities to build awareness and appreciation of our role as stewards of nature’s creation.

Our environment needs care and protection now more than ever. Let us all work together in changing views, attitudes, behaviors, and practices of people that are damaging to the environment. Help us promote an eco-friendly lifestyle and to remind each and everyone that we are an integral part of nature.

Ano man ang mangyari sa ating kapaligiran at kalikasan ay tiyak na may epekto sa atin. Dahil Ikaw, Ako, Tayo ang Kalikasan.