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Pinoy citizen ambassador presents eco bricks idea to UN


After winning a video contest sponsored by the United Nations (UN) earlier this year, the lone Filipino named as “citizen ambassador” had the rare chance to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December.   In an e-mail response to GMA News Online, 22-year-old Jonathan Eric Defante shared that his trip to the UN headquarters in New York in the United States, where he met Ban Ki-Moon, was “an unforgettable experience.”   “He said he hoped our meeting with him would motivate us not only to become citizens of our respective countries, but to be global citizens since—in the end—we are all part of this world,” Defante wrote, adding that the secretary-general “was very accommodating and humble.”   As part of his prize, the Filipino—currently working in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)—presented his “world-changing idea” to the UN Secretary-General in person.   Defante’s winning video pitch is titled “One Bottle, One Life,” where he urged Ban Ki-moon to “create a model community in every nation made out of used plastic bottles or ‘Eco Bricks.’”   “He said that as an environmentalist himself, he is concerned [over] the growing effects of climate change and he would like me to continue raising awareness about projects [that would stop these] effects,” he shared.   On the move   Asked about his future plans, Defante told GMA News Online that he would like to begin “raising awareness" as Ban Ki-moon asked him to do, starting with his core group—family and colleagues.   “I also plan to continue utilizing the various social networking tools to reach out to more people, [to encourage them] to take part in projects that would benefit the society,” he said.   Together with the two other “citizen ambassadors” Sigin Renwa Ojulu (South Sudan / USA) and Sergio Valdez (Guatemala), Defante will jumpstart his two-year role by collaborating with Hug It Forward Foundation in Guatemala and My Shelter Foundation in the Philippines to make their pitches a reality by 2013. The respective foundations built schools out of used bottles.   “The honorary title is good for two years, but it may be extended depending on how I will use it,” he shared.   ‘Citizen Ambassadors’   The Citizen Ambassadors campaign was launched in 2009 by the UN Department of Public Information, inviting people to engage with decision-makers through YouTube.   Participants who are at least 18 years old are asked to upload their video response—spoken or subtitled in either English or French—to an assigned topic or question.   The contest is part of Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to utilize the Internet and social networking to give citizens a voice in many diplomatic issues.   For the past two years, UN had citizens react to:
  • the Millenium Development Goals (2010); and
  • the question “If you had the opportunity to speak to world leaders, what would you say?”
  This year, netizens had to begin with “Excuse me, Mr. Secretary-General” before giving a 30-second statement on what they think “needs to be done to make this world a better and safer place.” - VVP,GMA News
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