Friday, January 24, 2014

Global Youth Summit 2014: Asia’s youth gather in Singapore for inaugural eco-summit

Young environmentalists from 13 countries in Asia convene in Singapore for the first Global Youth Summit, where they will spend four days to discuss ways to minimize waste, develop sustainable projects and learn from the city-state’s best environmental practices.
Sustainability is about preserving the planet’s natural resources for the next generation, and quite aptly, environmental awareness and waste management were some central themes at the inaugural Global Youth Summit 2014, which opened on Wednesday in Singapore.
Some 400 children and young adults from 13 countries in Asia gathered for the four-day event focused on the theme of “Take Action for Earth, Waste Not”.
The Summit, organized by the Singapore-based Hemispheres Foundation, aims to develop environmental leadership and activism among the youth. The participants, aged 12 to 21 years old, will be learning about successful sustainable initiatives in the city-state, as well as other solutions they can implement back in their home countries.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan led the opening ceremony at the Science Centre Singapore. He urged the young delegates to act now and initiate ecological projects for the betterment of tomorrow, instead of waiting for what the sustainability movement may bring in the future.
Similarly, Ann Phua, president and founder of Hemispheres Foundation, told the young delegates that people of all ages can commit to save the environment.

“We are facing serious problems with our natural environment and this needs to be addressed now. Solving air and water pollution problems, as well as managing waste requires commitment, not only from our leaders, researchers and the industries, but also from the community,” she explained.
Putting words into action, the summit includes outreach activities with the North West Community Development council and their area. There will also be workshops and site visits to Singapore’s NEWater plant, Marina Barrage and Semakau Landfill and Incineration Plant, which showcases how the city-state manages its water and waste.
Summit organizers said it will give the youth advocates a chance to interact with experts in both the private and public sectors.
The participants – coming from countries including Australia, China, the Philippines and Oman – will also have sessions to collaborate and develop waste reduction solutions. This will be pitched to a panel of judges on the last day of the Summit, where the most innovative and sustainable project will be awarded with cash prizes from one of the summit’s sponsors, City Development Limited, a Singapore-listed property developer with a strong sustainability policy.
Esther An, CDL head of corporate social responsibility, said: “Youths are the change makers in our society and we wish to empower them to embrace causes that they are passionate about.”
The Summit is a platform for such engagement. Other organizations, aside from CDL, like the National Youth Council, the National Environment Agency, Dell and the Public Utilities Board are also partners for the event, said Hemispheres. They will provide guidance and mentoring for these budding environmentalists.
Phua said: “It is indeed encouraging to see so many youths coming forward to help spread the environmental message to protect our Mother Earth. The dramatic effects of climate change cannot be taken lightly and it’s certainly not to be ignored.”
For the duration of the Summit, she is calling on the delegates to stop using non-biodegradable disposables to be able to reduce 2,000 plastic bags and bottle waste by the end of Saturday.
“I hope this Summit will be an impetus for more activities and platforms for the youths to lead in the drive for global sustainability,” she added.

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