As part of this year’s Earth Day celebration, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and Save the Philippine Seas, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, launched the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Marine Accelerator Program (YSEALI MAP) on April 22.
The program will train 62 youth leaders of 33 marine conservation projects in 11 Southeast Asian countries to collaborate and expand their initiatives to address marine and inland waterway issues including illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; river and marine ecosystem degradation; and marine debris.
During the next eight weeks, YSEALI MAP participants will join intensive online workshops and receive mentorship and grant opportunities. Environmental conservation and project management experts will train the participants on problem analysis, monitoring and evaluation, storytelling and visual communications, sustainability planning, resource mobilization, strategic partnerships, and cross-border collaboration. The program will conclude with a four-day in-person workshop in the Philippines towards the end of 2021 or early next year as conditions permit.
“We are excited to be working on the YSEALI MAP,” shared Anna Oposa, Executive Director of Save Philippine Seas. “The marine and waterway issues of our countries know no boundaries. By bringing these leaders together and supporting their initiatives, we can find solutions that can impact not only our respective countries but also our entire region.”
U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Counselor Philip Roskamp shared that working with youth leaders through YSEALI MAP is vital to advancing the U.S. government’s environmental policy. “The Biden administration has made environmental protection in the United States and overseas a major priority. The United States has committed to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030, and we are asking other countries to do the same,” he said.
YSEALI MAP is part of the U.S. government’s flagship youth leadership development and networking program in Southeast Asia called YSEALI. Since its launch in 2013, YSEALI has annually provided Southeast Asian youth leaders with educational and cultural exchanges to the United States and Southeast Asian countries, seed funding for innovative project ideas, and training programs on civic engagement, sustainable development, education, and economic growth. It has also grown to become a network of more than 150,000 youth leaders in Southeast Asia.