EMPOWERING FUTURE LEADERS: SM City Iloilo hosts Global Youth Summit 2024, sparks climate action initiatives

Around 3,000 students and youth leaders gathered at the SM City Iloilo Southpoint Carpark Area on Saturday, May 25, for the Iloilo leg of the 2024 Global Youth Summit (GYS), hosted by SM Cares and the Global Peace Foundation (GPF). The event featured a daylong program of activities, seminars, and workshops focused on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13: Climate Action. (Photo Courtesy of SM Cares

By Mariela Angella Oladive

In a bid to inspire youths to become catalysts for change, SM Cares and the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) hosted the Iloilo leg of the 2024 Global Youth Summit (GYS) on May 25 at the SM City Iloilo Southpoint car park area.

Around 3,000 passionate students and youth leaders from various schools and organizations attended the daylong event, which was packed with activities, seminars, and workshops centered around Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13: Climate Action.

Richard Caluyo, Assistant Vice President for Marketing at SM Cares, opened the summit with a motivational message that centered on the pivotal role of young people in shaping the future.

“Today is about you. It is not what you wear. But it’s the values and advocacies that you will pursue after the Global Youth Summit. It is you, your smile, and your desire to change this community,” he said.

Caluyo emphasized that the summit is a platform for learning and growth, urging the participants to use the knowledge gained to become agents of change in their communities.

“That is why we hold this summit every year. We want you to fully harness your potential as future leaders, driven by the desire to make the world a better place for everyone,” he expressed.

He also highlighted the importance of providing youth with opportunities to voice their concerns and deepen their understanding of critical issues.

Leonard Faustino, Executive Director of the Global Peace Foundation Philippines, echoed Caluyo and underscored the need for youth development.

“Youth development is not merely a concept or an idea; it’s a call to action, a movement that demands our active participation,” Faustino declared.

He spoke about creating environments where young minds can thrive and transform challenges into opportunities, stressing that the summit is a space for meaningful dialogue and the exchange of innovative ideas, where the contributions of young people are not only heard but genuinely valued.

“We are not just the leaders of tomorrow; we are the changemakers of today… By acting today with a vision for tomorrow, we lay the foundations for a legacy of growth, resilience, and shared prosperity,” he remarked.

The event featured notable speakers, including Enp. Ronald M. Cartagena, City Planning and Development Coordinator; Engr. Niel Ravena, City General Services Officer; Mr. Jasper Ruby Vijar of Team Dugong Bughaw; and Mr. Ingil Ra of Global Peace Foundation Asia Pacific.

They tackled strategies for mitigating climate change, green projects in urban areas, sustainable practices, and other effective environmental policies. These discussions aimed to equip young leaders with the knowledge and tools needed to drive sustainable development and environmental stewardship in their communities.

Ra, who traveled from Korea, shared his insights on SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals, emphasizing sustainable community development through youth innovation and entrepreneurship.

He highlighted the phrase “Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa” from the Philippines’ Patriotic Oath, Panatang Makabayan, noting its deep connection with the Korean ethos “Hongik Ingan,” which translates to “build a nation that benefits humanity.”

Interactive question-and-answer sessions following each speaker’s presentation and spontaneous interview sessions where participants shared their insights enriched the discussions.

The participants also affirmed their commitment to be changemakers by reciting the GYS Youth Pledge.

Raisa Treñas-Chu, Executive Assistant to the city mayor, representing Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, gave a special message expressing the local government’s support for youth initiatives.

The GYS is part of SM Cares’ broader program on Children and Youth, supporting all 17 UN SDGs. Other initiatives include The Book Nook, a free library and community hub for parents and children, and support for UNICEF’s programs for children’s education.

Beyond youth programs, SM Cares also runs initiatives focused on the environment, women and breastfeeding mothers, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities.

To learn more, visit https://www.smsupermalls.com/smcares/