UPOU Earth Ambassador
In 2013, the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), through the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS), organized a project whose main goal is to sustain socio-ecological production landscapes and satoyama and satoyama-like landscapes that encapsulate societies’ deteriorated culture by establishing UPOU Earth Ambassadors. The UPOU Earth Ambassadors are composed of youth, usually students from the partner schools who will help raise awareness and conduct activities in their local schools and communities in line with sustainable development, environmental and natural resource management. The project began with three (3) elementary schools in Laguna: The Learning Place of Los Banos, Sto. Domingo Elementary School in Bay, and Dayap Elementary School in Calauan.
The project provides spaces for the involvement of elementary students in sustainable development and community awareness, which is in line with the children’s right to participation, as espoused by the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC). This right recognizes that children are members of the society; hence, they have the right to voice their opinions and become involved in the society especially on matters that affect them — the earth being one of them.
This year, the FMDS plans to continue the initiative with schools previously involved in the project, namely, Sto. Domingo and Dayap Elementary Schools, and the newly identified Paciano Rizal Elementary School. Since the Department of Education (DepEd) has established the Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O), which aims to promote environmental conservation for future generations among students and its communities, this project can complement and support the vision of the YES-O program.
Moreover, with the pandemic that beset the whole world since 2020, various approaches to addressing health concerns have emerged. One of these is the One Health Approach which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health including environmental health. The recent pandemic evidently shows that human and animal health are vitally interlinked, wherein diseases from animals and wildlife can be transmitted to humans due to various factors, such as the growing population, climate change, wildlife collection and the international movement of humans, animals, and animal products, affecting their shared environment.
Given all the recent and emerging concerns and approaches and drawing from its previous successes, the Earth Ambassador project will now focus on people or humans and health which can be referred to as, “Reimagining Earth Ambassador through One Health Approach”. Thus, the ultimate goal of the project using the One Health Approach approach is to achieve optimal health outcomes through the coordinated and collaborative actions of the human, animal, and environmental health sectors.
The FMDS, through the UPOU Earth Ambassador, is strengthening its efforts to be part of the local, regional, national, and global movement and interventions towards One Health Approach.
The goal of this project is to facilitate understanding among communities and K–12 students in Los Banos and nearby communities on how humans, animals, wildlife , and their shared environment affect one another in achieving holistic health.
Activities that the public can take part in are also identified and anchored on the following objectives:
- Promote awareness and sense of environmentalism among communities and K-12 students;
- Integrate One Health Approach to the tri-fold functions of FMDS – teaching, research and public service;
- Facilitate knowledge sharing and capacity building among teachers on the One Health framework in their teaching and school roles ;
- Encourage critical thinking to address disinformation that relate to health, environment, and the society
For FMDS-UPOU, the project hopes to engage and get involved more with its community through knowledge sharing, community mobilization, and interaction. Through this, the project hopes to strengthen the relationships among the functions of the university namely public service, research, and teaching within the context of one health or holistic health and sustainability through the conduct of the various activities.