A weeklong capacity-building summer camp organised by Washington-based NGO, ILive2Lead International, and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China — in collaboration with UNICEF and German organisation GIZ — was held from August 11 to 17 in Qingdao, Shandong province in China. The youth’s role in combating climate change was the highlight of the event. About 100 students from 10 countries actively participated in the training camp.
The camp featured sessions on leadership, videos on biodiversity, climate change youth leadership workshop, causes and solution to the threats on marine ecosystems, science drama workshops, calculation of carbon footprint and public interaction in dealing with climate change. These sessions were moderated by experts of the respective fields, including Laura Bode, President, IL2L; William Yip, art director of Theatre Noir; Wilson Ang and Professor Kai Wirtz etc.
The participants were taken to sites environmentally significant in and around the city that included sewage water distillation pump, ocean water desalination factory, Olympic Sailing Base, Ocean Institute, solar energy generation plant and waste recycling factory. A Chinese documentary makers’ team filmed the event all week long and interviewed the participants about their perspectives on certain issues.
New World Environmental Services Group Factory was one of the most remarkable facilities the participants toured. The group collects waste from all over China to reuse and recycle them. They at first dismantle all the electronic products brought to their factory to scrape out the useable parts. The parts completely exhausted are shredded for metal and other minerals. They call this ‘Urban Mineral Resource Utilisation’. They have separate units to collect and extract reusable materials from air conditioning units, CPUs and RAMs, television sets, cars etc. In fact, they have extracted gold and platinum from RAM units of discarded CPUs. They also process PET bottles to make T-shirts. The metal extracted from old cars and other equipments are sold and are remodeled into new cars, fans, barrels even artifacts. Their faith in circular economy is commendable.
Another attraction was the NESI, National Environmental Sustainability Institute. The facility is self-sufficient in producing energy. They have made the facility such that the buildings do not need any electric lighting during the day. The ceiling and the walls of their buildings have photovoltaic cells installed so that the heat energy is trapped and can be converted into electric energy. They also have bought acres after acres of lands from local farmers to build greenhouses. The specialty of these greenhouses is that they also have solar panels overhead so that they can produce enough electricity to meet the need of the facility and also supply outside. The plants and vegetation grown in the greenhouses are 100 percent organic. No pesticide, chemical fertiliser or GMOs are used in such farms. The farmers are employed in this facility to increase the employment rate and ensure the overall wellbeing of the community — the farmers and the consumers.
The leadership summit was a great opportunity for the international participants and those from China to engage in cultural exchange. They spoke and learnt to get over all kinds of cultural barriers. They learnt that irrespective of nationality, culture and language they are all travelers of the same road and collaboration is the only way to sustain in times of crisis.
The participants of the camp presented the Declaration of Climate Champions Initiative as the final act for the closing ceremony.
Nousheen Zoarder completed HSC from Viqarunnisa Noon School and College and works with the non-profit organisation, Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative.