Washington University Students for International Collaboration on the Environment

Inspiration

Thank you, Karen, for finding this amazing, inspiring article for us – proving that we’re not alone in our mission for environmental sustainability and international collaboration!

Asian Youth Climate Summit, HK 2008

“In July 15-19th 2008, a group of a dozen students organized the first conference  in Asia to inspire and synergize the energy of Asian youth to discuss the issue of climate change —the Asian Youth Climate Summit which took place at the University of Hong Kong, with more than 100 delegates from over 23 countries.

As an ancient Chinese proverb says, “It is a great pleasure to have friends coming from afar” – especially when they are ones who share similar interests and perspectives. This is how I felt, as a member of the organizing committee of the Asian Youth Climate Summit (AYCS) 2008, and one of the co-founders of the Hong Kong Climate Change Coalition (HKCCC), which organized AYCS. These experiences have given me the great pleasure of contributing solutions to the issue of climate change from the perspective of a student at The University of Hong Kong.

The AYCS is the first and largest brainchild of the HKCCC since its establishment in February 2008, after a group of HKU students participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007 as Hong Kong NGO observers. Inspired by the concerted efforts of the worldwide NGOs and experts, and supported by HKU’s CEDARS (Center of Development and Resources for Students), we decided to build an Asia-based youth platform for finding potential future climate solutions.

Echoing the initial purposes of founding the HKCCC, the AYCS aims to inspire and empower Asian delegates to take actions on climate change upon returning home through the building of both the related knowledge and sustainable leadership. By bringing together both the student pioneers from different cultural and academic backgrounds and youth leaders with plethora of climate action experience, a long-term Asian youth climate network was built. Such a network was further nurtured by connections with today’s experts and leaders (political, social and economic) during the Summit. (which proved it equally true that when people lead, leaders follow)

Planning for such a grand event was both exciting and challenging. As the first Hong Kong- based youth climate NGO, we were not well-known and were lacking in manpower and experience. We compensated for those deficiencies with our unparalleled passion, determination and coherence for hosting such a summit; not to mention that every talent we had were elite and unique in each of their respective fields. Through connections built in the UN climate conference, we managed to gain extensive support from some major youth climate groups, such as the 2 Degree C, China Green Forum and the China Youth Climate Action Network.

Believe it or not, we also had a 14-hour marathon retreat meeting, including several leadership skills workshops to smooth the internal management so as to improve efficiency.

So, yes, it is non-profit; but only financially speaking. During the days of preparation for the AYCS, each and every one of the HKCCC was strongly convinced that our efforts are of value to a future solution of sustainability, a young but powerful profit of a different sort. The effect of the leadership by youth may take time to show its impact, but as time goes by, such power grows exponentially and will become irresistible. Our beliefs can be summarized as, “If you can capture the imagination of the youth, you can transform the future.”

The 5-day Summit was intense, nourishing and exciting. Plenary sessions and professional talks built our climate science knowledge bases. Interactive sessions with youth leaders and workshops on various topics helped delegates produce a myriad of innovative solutions, summed up in their “National Mission” presentation, and a solid output of the “Declaration”. Functions such as the “Asian Village” and Peak-hiking deepened understanding echoed in the hearts of the youth and a sense how hard it was to offset one’s carbon footprint and thus how important it is to save energy and avoid waste.

The Summit has come to an end, but the spirit nurtured there persists. To share with all of you some of the positive feedback of the AYCS, recently an Australian delegation team came up with a proposal for another youth your peers and family towards a more sustainable life style.

It is WE who will bear the future consequences of present decisions; thereby we have every right and responsibility to be part of the solution.

From Climate Chance–NGO in Hong Kong

http://www.thenetworkforchange.org/node/3

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