John Carl Alonsagay

Roles at NAAEE:

30 Under 30

Project Liaison Officer
Alpha Team Organization | ClimatEducate Project

Pandan, Antique, Philippines
Age: 24

John Carl's youth-led climate change education initiative reaches schools and communities across the Global South.

How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities? 

Through the ClimatEducate Project, we work to connect youth and community leaders with science and opportunities for civic engagement. Our project created materials that are free for youth leaders and teachers to use and share, conducted school and outreach events to reach more communities, and provided simplified versions of the climate change agenda for grassroots community leaders. At the moment, we are building a learning platform for climate action that can be used online and offline as instructional material for learners and is designed to be accessible for remote schools in developing countries.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today. 

I started my journey in environmentalism when I was in elementary school. I loved learning about one of our island’s last remaining rainforests and how important it is to sustain our communities’ livelihoods. I live in a region where the ecosystem is thriving significantly, from ridge to reef. After experiencing Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which affected my family and community, I started joining the climate movement. The experience motivated me to study more about climate change and engage in dialogue on it. Our climate change education project, which was launched in 2016, paved the way to widen my engagement with this topic and learn with fellow youth climate advocates and researchers who are also mostly from the developing world. Through years of volunteer work with the ClimatEducate project, I realized that continued awareness and education about the root causes of climate change are imperative to help our communities understand the actions being done and provide them with chances to participate.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

I encourage our next leaders to stay curious, proactive, and creative. Never stop being engaged in civic activities, as you will continue to learn along the way. Encourage and help build sustainable communities based on cooperation and respect. As tested by the 2020 pandemic, our future world will need leaders with a genuine passion for the common good of the people and for the protection of the common source of all human systems - the natural world. Keep on being vocal, until it is finally heard.

What keeps you motivated, inspired, and/or hopeful for the future?

I was inspired by my maternal grandfather’s environmental advocacy. Though he never studied high school and lived all his life in a fishing family, his love for the sea and the natural world was so strong that he lobbied for one of our town’s first marine protected areas (MPA) in the mid-1990s as a community leader. Because of this, my grandfather experienced hardships and was even politicized. It was several years after his death that the MPA materialized and the community enjoyed its benefits. Like his journey to pursue the common good, my own journey was also tiresome and challenging along the way. But, I always think of how my grandfather’s grit and persistence made a long-lasting difference, which inspires me to this day.