Meet youth facilitator: Rizza Karen Veridiano

This article posts during GLF 2014. See in English | Espanol
Rizza Karen Veridiano – GLF youth facilitator

Rizza Karen Veridiano will be facilitating a discussion at the youth session on ‘forests, agriculture, mountains and land use in the new climate regime’. 

Learn more about the GLF youth session here! If you will be attending COP20 in Lima, build your professional skills and knowledge by attending the youth masterclasses.

Climate change. Two of the most influential words that shaped the course of the world over the past decades. People will often have their own story to tell when asked about climate change and I’m not exempted from that.

Mine was brought about from attending what I thought back then was a usual class lecture, not knowing that it would eventually lead me to the complex and exciting world of conservation under a new climate regime.

Seven years ago, I was that undergraduate student at the University of the Philippines stuck inside the laboratory investigating matters related to forest genetics and biotechnology. My path took a turn when I had the privilege of listening to a presentation about global warming and its effects on local communities. I easily identified with the experiences our professor mentioned in the lecture. From then on, I decided to step out of the laboratory and put my energy and mind toward dwelling upon the intricate world of climate change and its tapestry of complications (which I have come to  eventually appreciate!).

Over the last three years, my experience as Fauna & Flora International-Philippines’ Forest Inventory Advisor/Carbon Accounting Specialist has led me on some exciting ventures. I have had the privilege of going to remote rural areas where the inherent connection of people and nature is celebrated, rather than impeded. I’ve been to places that harbor plant and wildlife species never to be found on other islands of the Philippines or in other countries.

Still, beyond the grandeur of diversity that can be found in my country, lurk the threats that bring them to destruction. I’ve seen first-hand how local communities and institutions of the provinces of Quezon and Palawan “fought their respective battles” just so they could retain the rights to sustainably manage their resources amidst a myriad of threats.

Tempting as it may sound, the promisee of economic gains from activities contributing to deforestation often lure the communities to engage into such acts. This complexity is brought about by the interplay of land-use change in order to foster economic development which is pitted against the conservation of the remaining forests . These issues in the context of changing and more erratic climate regime are what really interests me.

These are complex issues indeed, but that is actually the most interesting part as well. Through platforms such as the Global Landscapes Forum, everyone will have the equal chance to raise their concerns and along the way find innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to try to address these complexities. What is even more remarkable is the fact that youth will specifically have their very own sessions, and they will have the opportunities to highlight their collective aspirations and solutions to the questions that they think are relevant to shape their future.

In 2010, the youth comprised more than a quarter of my country’s population. This is most likely to continue in the next 25 years when the number of youth is expected to reach 33.9 million. With this trend and the ever-competing issues of economic development versus conservation, it’s the most opportune time for the youth to take the center stage and elicit dialogues towards more concrete and attainable ways to address conflicting issues of resource management.

I hope that by facilitating the discussion on “forest, agriculture, mountains and land-use in the new climate regime”, we can collaboratively come up with solutions that will not simply remain as written declarations but rather will be transformed and elevated into concrete actions that will help us to foster genuine conservation success at the landscape level.

And, as I write through the pages of my climate change story, I hope to encounter more inspiring youth and like-minded people that will continuously encourage the rest of the world to stand against this battle ahead of us.

After all, youth are the hope of the future, so we,as youth, should always strive to be one a lead ourselves there.


Rizza karen Veridiano is currently a Senior Project Officer and the resident Forest Carbon Accounting Specialist of Fauna & Flora International-Philippines Programme, working mainly on the different REDD+ projects of FFI-Philippines. She’s been working with FFI-Philippines since 2012 and prior to her engagement with FFI, she was part of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF-Philippines) working on climate change adaptation projects. The author has recently finished her graduate studies (MS Environmental Science) and is looking forward on pursuing post-graduate studies while continuing to work in the realm of forest and biodiversity conservation.