Raiza Javier and Brex Arevalo
In an effort to redefine the existing economy into one that promotes dignity of all people and takes into account its impact on the environment, Living Laudato Si’ Philippines brought together youth leaders from different faith-based and economics organizations to discuss their perspectives and possible collective actions on the prevailing economic system.
Young people from the development sector, private sector, and academe shared insights, hopes, and actions for a more sustainable and just economy in the first of a series of focus group discussions titled Redefining Economy in the light of Laudato Si’: Thoughts and Perspectives of the Filipino Youth.
To help deepen the participant’s understanding and reflection on the topic, Living Luadato Si’ Philippines Executive Director Rodne Galicha shared a brief situationer on the economic state of the country and what the encyclical Laudato Si’ says about the prevailing idea of ‘development’ in society.
This was followed by a discussion with young economist JC Punongbayan on the economics of the Paris Agreement, where he explained how the climate crisis is a tradeoff on four different levels: between current and future generations, between developed and developing countries, between traditional and renewable energy sources, and between big and small solutions.
Punongbayan said that while the crisis calls for major changes on the part of governments and corporations such as cutting carbon emissions and transitioning to clean energy, individual lifestyle changes are also important. He added that “culture change” should take place so that the shift to sustainable consumption does not only reward the rich who can afford it but everyone.
“We need to democratize solutions to engage more people in this issue and not stifle people’s hopes when big solutions take too long to push through,” he said.
The participants then proceeded to a discussion answering the questions “Where are we?” “Where do we want to go?” and “How do we get there” in terms of the national economic situation. This allowed the participants scope and articulate the realities this generation is facing and think of achievable solutions to the issues at hand.
What transpired is a working document on how the youth sees the present, their hopes for the future, and the solutions they propose to achieve them. This output will form part of a unified declaration that will be presented in an international convention of The Economy of Francesco, an event that aims to bring together young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers. It will be convened by Pope Francis in Assisi, Italy in November.
Young volunteer Nikki Alcantar noted the need to shift to a more inclusive economy, saying that the current trickle-down system is “a trickle-down of cost, not profit.” Rain Bello of Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines pointed out the increasing role that young people are playing in terms of decision- and policymaking by working closely with country leaders and legislators. All participants agreed that continued and genuine dialogue with others is key for a more just and inclusive economy.
Jessica Dator-Bercilla of Christian Aid, who moderated the focus group discussion, urged the participants to take this conversation to a broader audience of young people and gather more insight for a more unified call to action.
“The youth need to occupy their space in society to change their own future,” she told the participants.
At the end of the event, Galicha reminded the group of the ancient Greek origins of the word economy: oikos (household) and nomos (management).
“Do we really need to redefine economy? Maybe not,” he said. “Because economy in its original sense is stewardship. Maybe what we need to do is remember.”