Shell holds first Sustainable Development Youth Congress
“We’re all stewards in this planet,” reminded Shell Country Chairman Mr. Edgar O. Chua in the recently held Sustainable Development in Action Youth Congress at the University of Asia and the Pacific.
In an aim to promote and find ways to sustainable development, Shell Corporation partnered with the Center for Research and Communications (CRC) in organizing the first ever Shell Sustainable Development in Action Youth Congress held last November 12, 2011 at the APEC Communications building of the University of Asia and the Pacific. The companies previously teamed up in crafting the Sustainable Development (SD) in Action, a publication outlining Shell’s contributions to sustainable development in the country over the years. The event started with a plenary session during which student leaders got to learn about Shell’s SD projects and to listen to experts from various perspectives, and culminated with the presentation of SD proposals from the students and the awarding of the most creative and responsive solution.
The event was organized in the vision of empowering the youth who are considered an important stakeholder; Shell Corporation aimed to share their sustainable development projects, hear proposed solutions from the students and work with the youth in achieving these.
More than two hundred student delegates from various universities with various academic disciplines, including 30 Shell scholars, attended the conference.
Dr. Bernardo Villegas, director of CRC, in his opening remarks, lived to his reputation as “the prophet of boom” and gave a forecast of seven to nine percent economic growth for the next ten to twenty years. Moreover, he emphasized that this generation will experience not only inclusive growth but also sustainable growth. He recognized the contributions of Shell for the sustainable development we will witness in the coming years, and its efforts in meeting the global demand and reducing the impact of operations. However, Dr. Villegas underscored the importance of working hand in hand in securing a sustainable future and recognized the contribution of the youth to his development. He said that the youth are the most important stakeholders as they “hold the future”.
According to keynote speaker Mr. Edgar O. Chua, Shell country chairman, the company shares Dr. Villegas’ optimism, as it seeks to meet the ‘nine billion challenge’. Aside from anticipating economic growth in the future, he also pointed out that there are by-products of growth and one of these is the increase in demand for energy sources. The company predicts that the demand for energy will double by 2050 – a cause for either uncertainty or potential. Thus, the company is taking steps to ensure it meets the challenge by collaborating with research partners and improve their operations in terms of their efficiency, quality and technology.
Undersecretary Jose M. Layug, Jr., representing the government, outlined the programs of the Department of Energy that aim to meet the demands for energy and improve operations. According to him, the department is working on a new energy reform agenda that involves finding potential alternative energy resources as well as providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to developers. They are also working on strengthening communication with transport groups and aid the workers by providing fuel subsidy amidst the increasing fuel prices. Their long-term project includes exploration of new sources and the monitoring of the world prices.
Meanwhile, Shell and CRC elicited positive responses from the panelists, with Ambassador Hubert Aboville representing the European Union and the business sector, Mr. Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga representing the private sector , Professor Hubo from UA&P representing the academe and Jorenz Perez, president of the UA&P Business Economics Association representing the youth sector.
Mr. d’Aboville commended Shell for recognizing the importance of prioritizing sustainable development. He says that today, SD goals should be more than just marketing tool but a motivation for good governance and social responsibility – shown by treating sustainability as a major part of development. He pointed out that in fact, economist Michael Porter believes that if company goals that become shared values can effect societal and economic process, and therefore have the power to unleash a social cause.
Mr. Meloto of Gawad Kalinga expressed his appreciation for Shell’s assistance and support for the past years, and called on the youth to be more active in improving the country.
Mr. Colin Hubo, on the other hand, praised Shell’s efforts in coming up with their own SD reports and commented that it is useful in improving the company’s transparency as well as furthering the meeting of social and environmental concerns by the pollination of the best practices, new knowledge and effective policies. He also gave several suggestions for the improvement of the Shell SD report.
Lastly, Mr. Jorenz Perez, a fifth-year Industrial Economics student and the current president of the Business Economics Association encouraged his fellow students to bank on their idealism and creativity in contributing to the solutions to the challenge. He added that sincerity in pledging for any cause starts with understanding the issue and commitment. Thus, he encouraged his fellow students to communicate with one another and learn from experts to have the proper mindset ready to meet the challenge.
The afternoon session was spent for the group discussions. Each group was comprised of fifteen to twenty-five members from different universities; each group was to come up with proposed solution to what they consider a major obstacle to sustainable development.
The panel of judges was composed of DOE Director of Oil Industry management Bureau Director Zenaida Monsada, School of Economics Dead, Dr. Peter Lee U, and the Downstream Communications Manager of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, Ms. Mylene Mendoza Santos.
Based on the merits of their proposal’s content, relevance, sustainability and creativity, the first group, called Shellgregate, emerged as grand winners. Called ‘Shell-gregate”, their proposal involves the education of a local community, in partnership with the public school, Shell and Gawad Kalinga. They envision the education of the community on waste management, and the effective segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes that may be used for creating biomass energy by Shell and for recycled housing materials for Gawad Kalinga.
Participants responded positively to the organizers’ call for working for sustainable development. Jemima Landong, a senior Political Economy student from the University of Asia and the Pacific said that she “was surprised that this just-one-day conference of Shell is enough to motivate students on how to responsibly use energy”.
Students were particularly appreciative of having had the opportunity to interact with like-minded students from other universities. Rea De La Torre, also from the UA&P reacts, “I actually appreciated in Shell Congress was the diversity of fields of the students. All ideas (may it be from young economists, environmentalists, political scientists, engineers etc.) were well incorporated. This only proves that one science cannot stand alone and that unity is needed to attain true sustainable development. “. This insight is shared by Raymon de Asis of Ateneo de Manila University, who said that he realized that “the top universities do not hold all the talent in the Philippines. Universities and colleges specializing in different fields can work together by providing their best talent to help address big issues such as sustainable development”.
Some participants also expressed enthusiasm in participating in similar activities. Justiene Ortega from AIESEC San Beda and a member of the winning team, said that “sharing the advocacy with the youth sector was a great step towards its realization, and I am hoping that our team’s idea would really help Shell uphold their advocacy”.
The challenge, however, stands tall for the participants for knowing the youth’s role in sustainable development is only half the battle. Though the event, this core idea was emphasized in hopes of translating the shared vision into action.#