With the theme “Sustainable Development (SD) Youth in Action for Nation-Building”, the 3rd Shell SD Youth Congress gathered almost 300 student delegates from universities and schools in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to learn and contribute to Sustainable Development discussions and plenary sessions. Held in partnership with the University of Asia and the Pacific-Centre for Communications Research (CRC), the annual conference is one of Shell’s programmes directed to the youth, aimed at developing their potential to become active leaders and decision makers and harnessing their potential in generating ideas in relation to sustainable development.

Delegates from close to 30 different schools and universities joined this year's SD Youth Congress, which sought to fuel the youth’s desire to be catalysts of change and proactive thinkers who will take unified actions towards the betterment of sustainable energy future and welfare for the next generation.

Doing things the smarter way

Keynote speaker, Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. General Manager Sebastian Quiniones, Jr said that in the next few years, current energy demand will double, hence the need to ensure that energy supplies are secured. "We have to reduce energy consumption by being smarter in the way we do things, taking into consideration that we also need to reduce energy’s environmental and social impacts – some of the major issues that societies and governments are struggling with," he said.

As a challenge to the youth, Quiniones encouraged them to fully exercise their role as change agents and catalysts, emphasizing their importance as Shell’s inspiration in producing more responsible energy.

One with Shell for new energy future

“Since the early stages [of Shell], we have a commitment to sustainable development. We are one with you [youth] in all these actions going forward,” said Mr. Quiniones as he explained Shell’s unwavering commitment to contribute towards securing energy resources for future generations. He added that Shell is an energy company that is operating for the long term, doing business responsibly.

According to Quiniones, Shell conducts its business by integrating economic, environmental, and social considerations in business decision-making, ensuring that everything that the company produces benefits and reduces impacts.

“We work to reduce environmental and social impacts – safeguarding health and safety of the employees and neighbours, [avoiding] disruption of communities, lowering the emissions including our greenhouse gases, improving impacts on biodiversity, and using less energy, water, and other resources,” said Quiniones.

“As we move towards a hundred years, we will continue to help the government in nation-building and empowering communities in a sustainable manner,” he added.

Role model company

In his keynote response speech, University of Asia and the Pacific Director for Research Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas emphasized the role that Shell plays in leading other corporations through exceptional corporate social responsibility initiatives. He acknowledged Shell’s unwavering commitment to both social investment and sustainable development, managing and ensuring balance between the two.

Addressing the youth, Dr Villegas told them that to achieve success, they should mind both the welfare of their stakeholders, and safeguard their interests. “I know so many companies that are talking about cleaning the environment, but when you look at their business practices, they are abusing their workers. They are not actually worried about the welfare of their workers,” he explained. Dr. Villegas emphasized that this is where companies should emulate Shell.  According to Dr Villegas, Shell clearly balance its actions of benefitting its stakeholders, the economy, and the environment.

A generation that starts change

Meanwhile, student representative and Business Education Association (BEA) President Gillean Altuna, rallied her fellow youth to not only believe in the achievement of a better world, but to work and go hand in hand towards it. “We are the Facebook generation, the Twitter generation, the iPad generation. We are known for that. But wouldn’t it be better if our generation would be called the generation that changed the Philippine society? We are equipped with all the necessary means possible. We are destined to change and make history,” she said, adding that everything starts in the burning idealism that the Youth Congress instills among the participants.

Rewarding excellence

This year, SD Youth Congress recognised bright minds that did extremely well in the essay writing competition, song writing – video competition, among others.

Prior to the congress was an On-the-spot Essay Writing competition held at the University of Asia and the Pacific last August 31. College and high school students showed their literary prowess on writing about their contribution to nation-building. The winners were Mark Alvin Bustos of Technical Institute of the Philippines (English Category, college), Lorenzo Cruz Vidal of University of the Philippines – Diliman (Filipino Category), and Antonette Reyes of Carlos L. Albert High School (English Category, high school).

Student bands from the winning schools performed their original compositions that topped the Song Writing and Video Presentation Competition. These include Technical Institute of the Philippines (TIP) Voice Manila (champion), University of Sto. Tomas’ (UST) Sunday Evening band (second place), and Caloocan National Science and Technology High School’s Himala Band (third prize).

University of Sto. Tomas representatives won the Innovative/Smart Solutions on Energy, Food, and Water Issues with their project entitled Illuminate – the application of low-cost renewable energy solution to urban poor households. Their project’s implementation will be funded by Shell.  Second and third place winners were TUP’s High Efficiency Electric Generator for Food Production and Water Purification project proposal and UA&P’s proposal entitled Buy and Shell, respectively.  Meanwhile, the Malampaya group, a team composed of students from different schools won the Sustainable Development Best Idea contest. They were able to generate the most unique idea on how the government, business sector, the academe, and the civil society could overcome the challenges that give rise to poverty traps.