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Future decision-makers take up the energy challenge in Shell Youth Congress

Imagine fitting another India and China into the planet in a span of just less than 40 years from now. The country’s future decision-makers pondered the question of how to provide for a planet that will increase by as much as the population of two of the most inhabited countries in the world by 2050. At the recently held 1st Shell Sustainable Development in Action Youth Congress at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), students and scholars from various universities were issued an urgent yet hopeful challenge by field experts from government, the European Chamber of Commerce, the academe, and the private sector to help come up with the beginnings of a blueprint for future energy.
Best Idea Winner

Department of Energy Oil Industry Management Bureau Director Zenaida Monsada, Shell Upstream Communications Manager Mylene Santos, and UA&P School of Economics Dean Dr Peter Lee U served as the workshop judges in the Best SD Idea Contest staged during the first Shell SD Youth Congress. The winner of the Best SD Idea was the team that presented the proposal of establishing a youth organisation which will lead the creation of a learning facility to conduct workshops on proper waste segregation.

Keynote speaker Edgar Chua, Country Chair of the Shell companies in the Philippines, crystallized the demand into three main points: more energy, cleaner energy, and smarter energy. The observable rise in affluence that people have begun to experience through acquiring appliances, cars and other possessions does not describe the entire picture. “There will still be billions of people struggling with energy poverty so we need all the energy we can get.”

During the plenary session, Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Director of the Center for Research and Communications, gave a “prophet of boom” forecast that Filipinos will see inclusive and sustainable growth in the next 10-20 years. The world is likely to undergo another round of recession that will affect developed countries like the United States, European nations, and others, perhaps even Hong Kong, but he is optimistic about the standing of the Philippines, saying that it will figure as an important gateway in Asia.

He emphasized that the welfare of the people in the present should take precedence without sacrificing the good of succeeding generations since the current years will set the pace for tomorrow’s development.

Undersecretary of the Department of Energy Jose Layug, Jr. talked about the energy reform agenda as a major policy of the present government. He said that unlike other countries, especially in Asia, Filipinos can be proud of the fact that there are many renewable energy sources here, such as hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and even ocean resources, and discussed how fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are helping promote the efficient use of renewable energy.

Education, Action, Cooperation

The youth are the toughest audience because what they may lack in experience, they make up for in idealism and vigilance, which was why it was crucial to get them on the same page in terms of discussing the most important energy issues. When asked by a student about the socio-cultural costs of doing business in the Philippines, Chua brings up the Malampaya project as an example of the company’s engagement in the community. Malampaya is the most significant industrial milestone in the Philippines that provides a cleaner source of power and answers 40-50% of Luzon’s energy requirements.

He revealed that a circuitous route of pipeline had to be engineered to protect the ecosystem and the concerns of different communities because Shell would like the project to not remain as merely a “technical” venture but considers it as “one of the most difficult but most satisfying projects” of the company. The United Nations recognized Malampaya in 2002 by honoring it with an award for sustainable development.

Another panelist, founder of Gawad Kalinga, Tony Meloto said that there are many patriots in the business community, citing that Shell has helped build 34 farms for typhoon victims, set up disaster centers in Baseco, and supported the building of GK sustainable communities. While assailing corruption in society, he made an appeal to the youth saying that people should engage the good of individuals to bring about results. Meloto’s inspiring statement, “This is the best time to be a Filipino,” was met with boisterous applause.

Presenting the view of the foreign investors, 5th-term president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Hubert d’Aboville addressed the audience whom he referred to as “the engine of the future.” Against the backdrop of energy wastage and rising CO2 emissions, he laid out some of the projects that the ECCP has been involved in for the improvement of energy security and environment competitiveness. He also revealed that the organization’s integrity pledge initiative has already received the support of more than 800 companies.

Identifying the extraction sector (in which the Shell Malampaya project belongs) as one of the most heavily regulated in the Philippines, UA&P Professor Colin Hubo, Elected Stakeholder Council Member of the Global Reporting Initiative (Amsterdam), explained that companies like Shell have become forerunners in terms of setting voluntary sustainable development standards that have been adopted even by the United Nations. He called on the company to produce sustainable development reports aligned with Philippine commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.

Considered the most important stakeholders of government and business, the young participants were led to a workshop that facilitated creative problem-solving and patriotic decision-making, and were challenged to come up with proposals that will consider the greatest energy challenges; develop specific action plans for the youth; and explain how their recommendations can be realized in collaboration with Shell and other partners.

The student participants from the Shell Anibong team won the “Best Sustainable Development (SD) Idea” award from among 5 short-listed finalists. The group’s workshop proposal recommended youth involvement in the form of school-based lecture workshops and a waste-conversion project with the help of Shell, the end goal of which is to transform recycled waste into construction materials for Gawad Kalinga projects.

Student representative and plenary panelist Jorenz Perez, head of the UA&P Business Economics Association, who earlier enjoined fellow college youths to produce creative solutions while mentioning the pop-culture character of Tony Stark (Ironman), concluded the Congress by leading the students in a collective pledge to uphold the principles of sustainable development for an energy efficient future and translate the ideas they have learned into practical actions applicable to their field of expertise, while engaging and involving others towards the same goal as instruments of nation-building.

Newly appointed Shell Upstream Communications Manager and one of the jurors in the youth workshop proposal Mylene Santos underscored the important contribution of the youth in sustainable development. Said Santos, “In Shell, we recognize that we cannot do without partners and we recognize your important contributions. This event is a plea for all on the importance of our individual contribution to ensure our sustainable future.”

The first Shell Sustainable Development in Action Youth Congress was organized by Shell companies in the Philippines in partnership with the Center for Research and Communication. For more information, visit www.shell.com.ph/sdinaction or www.shell.com/futureenergy. Follow the <Shell Youth in Action> community on Facebook and on Twitter (@Shell_Youth).

First Shell Sustainable Development Youth Congress.

Keynote speaker Shell companies in the Philippines Country Chairman Edgar Chua (far left) together with the SD Youth In Action Congress panel reactors’ Centre for Research and Communication Director Dr. Bernardo Villegas (2nd from left), who presented the economic perspective on SD; UA&P Centre for Social Responsibility Vice Chairman Prof. Colin Hubo (3rd from left) and UA&P Business Economics Association President Jorenz Perez (far right), who both presented the academic perspective on SD; Gawad Kalinga Founder Tony Meloto (middle), who presented the non-government perspective on SD; Department of Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug (3rd from right), who presented the government perspective on SD; and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) President Hubert d’Aboville (2nd from right), who presented the business perspective on SD.