New to market NGO, Conservation International Hong Kong is already utilising its role as community player to make a difference.
The environmental organisation aims to empower Hong Kongers to care for nature responsibly and sustainably. Conservation International Hong Kong iscultivating young great minds to take the lead by helping them to transform into high impact ‘change agents’. Finding, supporting and educating home-grown ambassadors is a natural first step for the NGO.
Since officially opening its office doors in Hong Kong two months ago, the world renowned organisation has collaborated with Volunteers in Asia (VIA) to facilitate the U.S. Department of State’s annual American Youth Leadership Programme (3 July to 12 July 2015) for a cross-cultural learning experience here in Hong Kong. Conservation International Hong Kong has created a fun-filled educational itinerary, focused on Hong Kong’s leadership, challenges and opportunities in urban environmental sustainability, giving a unique opportunity for seventeen local Hong Kong students to host seventeen Californian high school students in their environment. They will come together to discuss global and Hong Kong environmental issues and possible initiatives to make positive change. They share a common goal of planet-sized change.
“Working with these passionate youth equals working with our future environmental leaders. They are our future heroes, the ones who will protect and restore the balance between people and nature. They know their future is in their hands and are ready to start making a difference. Bringing together Hong Kong and U.S. students to examine important global and local environmental issues allows them to account for cross-cultural factors when thinking about shared challenges and solutions,” says Jude Wu, Managing Director of Conservation International Hong Kong.
As part of the itinerary, students from Ng Yuk Secondary School, which is a participant of Project WeCan founded by philanthropic tycoon Peter Woo, will welcome the American students to their school and to Hong Kong, adding a personal factor to this summer’s urban sustainability programme. Mr. CY Chan, the teacher who spearheads Ng Yuk School’s award-winning environmental initiatives, says, “We are very excited to participate in the American Youth Leadership Programme. The programme will give our students a great opportunity to develop intercultural communication skills and gain insight on environmental issues.”
After lunch, students will tour Ng Yuk School’s award-winning green roof garden and dive into the Carbon Trading Game, led by Teng Hoi Conservation Organisation, which offers an uniquely interactive and fun way for students to experience the concepts, politics and issues related to the global community’s attempt to deal with climate change by reducing each country’s carbon emissions.
In the evening, students will travel to Ocean Park for an overnight stay in the Grand Aquarium followed by morning workshops on sustainable seafood and water conservation. Through these interactive activities, they will understand the roles of fishermen, consumers and the government in promoting sustainable fisheries and analyse the importance of water in their daily lives, in economics and in environmental conservation.
“It is particularly critical to examine these sustainability issues and solutions in an urban context, since over 50% of the global population now resides in cities, and half of these urbanites live in Asia. In these students lifetimes, by 2050, two out of three people are projected to be living in cities,” says Jude Wu.
The remaining itinerary is complete with inspirational workshops and tours with great minds and green groups. David Yeung, founder of Green Monday will speak to the students about overcoming the challenges to change the mind-set and lifestyle of a dense urban population, while HK Recycles, WWF, GrowingSmart.HK and HK Electric amongst others will give tours within this topic of urban sustainability. To add, students will learn professional development and networking tips from LinkedIn Hong Kong and receive a green building tour of the Hysan Place, the first mixed-use office and vertical mall complex to receive LEEDâ Platinum green building certification in Hong Kong.
As part of its educational efforts in the city, Conservation International Hong Kong also launched the ‘Environmental Heroes Leadership Programme’ earlier this year. Following up on the success garnered by introducing this curriculum to Chinese International School, the programme will be offered to more schools as an elective for students to add to their achievements. The programme focuses on training students to become ‘change agents’ to achieve widespread positive impacts for humanity and the environment. The curriculum includes topics such as conservation and behavioural psychology, green marketing, sustainable design principles, and entrepreneurial tactics, culminating in a showcase event for the Heroes to present their proposed solution for a major environmental or social issue to a panel of experts.
Here’s looking forward to a sustainable Hong Kong with our future environmental leaders.