September 8 - 14, 2013: Issue 127

 Youth Leading the Way at Coastal Environment Centre - 2013 - Empowering, Inspiring, Uplifting

Founded in 1992, OzGREEN is a non-profit sustainability organisation, which educates and empowers young people, corporations and communities to tackle environmental challenges (such as climate change and water) and become leaders of social change. OzGREEN operates nationally in Australia and has established programs in Asia and Central America. The calibre of OzGreen and Sue Lennox’ work has been recognised via national and international awards including the Eureka Prize, Banksia Award and UN Media Peace award. Lennox is an Australia Day Ambassador and a member for the Centre for Social Impact Advisory Council.

On Thursday we went down to that wonderful facility, the Coastal Environment Centre, to see what the participants in this year’s Youth Leading the Way Congress had experienced. “Youth Leading the World”, September 3-5 was the fifth annual event run by non-profit organisation OzGREEN in partnership with Pittwater and Warringah Council at the Coastal Environment Centre, Narrabeen. The congress has grown rapidly and this year is being facilitated simultaneously at over 60 locations in Australia and overseas, connected via Skype and Facebook. This year the forum has been held in over 90 locations world wide and is having a positive impact on our young adults.

At Narrabeen the Participants explored local and global sustainability challenges, looked at their own eco footprint and work on ideas for change at home, at school and in their communities.

“The congress is interactive. In addition to sharing information we’ll be playing games, brainstorming and actively planning for change. There’s always a great energy at our congresses,” says Vanessa Moskal, who facilitated Narrabeen’s “Youth Leading the World” (YLTW) for her fourth time.

Participants do not need any prior experience in sustainability, just a keen interest to learn more and become involved.

OzGREEN has been working in environmental education for more than 20 years and started YLTW five years ago. “We were concerned by the lack of political action on critical issues and saw the need to foster a new generation of leaders who will actively work for a switch to sustainable living,” explains Sue Lennox, OzGREEN’s founder and co-CEO.

Representatives of the regional congresses will convene in Sydney, November 26-28, to report on achievements and plan national initiatives.

Before meeting the group we spoke with David Lowery of CEC to get a bit of insight into this year’s local congress:

David Lowery
The Youth Leading the World is a concept that has been developed by OzGreen and Pittwater Council has been very happy to work with OzGreen and their facilitators over the last five years. The concept of the Youth Leading the World Congress is a youth developed and driven environmental and social justice forum. Students come together and work at developing action plans for their ability to be able to make changes within the world, either locally or globally, that is around them.

What sort of subjects have they been covering during the last few days?

They begin with giving a general overview into the young people being able to look at their own impact on the world, their environmental footprint; getting a bit of information about social and environmental issues facing the world, looking at those large differences between people who are living in, Norway was one example, and looking at the resources they needed, and comparing that to a family in Africa and looking at the resources they needed to be able to exist and making those direct comparisons.
They’ve also been looking at some of the environmental changes, such as sea level rise and global warming. Flowing on from that they’ll sit down and discuss between themselves how those issues affect them as people. Then moving on from that is giving them that empowerment to move into that next stage to be able to develop some kind of action plan so that they can make that positive change in their own communities and the world around them.

In terms of what they’re looking at it is that bigger picture for the world and then allowing them to be able to look at and discuss issues that are close to them and their areas.

What are the schools represented by students this year?

We have students from Pittwater High School, Stella Maris College, Manly Selective Campus, from the German International School at Terrey Hills and Mackellar Girls School. They’ve all been doing brilliantly and interacting really well. The facilitators have been great and are essentially what allows this to work and are school students themselves in three cases. They’re from Pittwater High, Stella Maris and Mackellar.

In terms of what they have been working on and developed they have produced a short video which is just fantastic and gives you an overview about what they have been doing, and a really good use of the technology. They’ll be presenting their action plans and what they would like to do to move these forward during the Community Forum.
What I think the most important thing to be able to assist these young people with is to be able to give them that opportunity to have their voice and to speak and be listened to. A respect for their concerns about the world around them, acknowledging these are very valid, and thaT they are our future. To give them the opportunity to have their voice heard is vital but then for us to be able to give them assistance to be able to undertake those projects is also important.

We then asked Vanessa Moskal from OzGreen what the roles of the facilitators were;

Vanessa Moskal
This is very much a dynamic process where the students are having a lot of interaction. The role of the facilitators, or why we use that term, is that it is not about teaching or talking at the youth. It’s about facilitating their development and empowering them. I have been a lead facilitator since YLTW started in 2009 and this year we’ve had participants like Josy and Meagan return as facilitators, this is their second year in this role, and we’ve also had two new girls, the Jessicas, and they’ve come on board as facilitators as well. What is really exciting about this now is that they actually lead workshops and so you have this wonderful process of youth empowering other youth and youth supporting youth. This all relates back to that Youth can Lead.

Left to Right Facilitators: Jessie, Meagan, Jess and Josy

Sitting in with the students in their last round circle discussion prior to the Community Forum presentations where each member of this year’s congress was asked to share a few words about what they had enjoyed or learnt from this experience was an opportunity to see in their faces how hard they’d worked. All stated that ‘meeting new people’ had been great and coming up with ideas to improve the world and then working out action plans to help their ideas become reality had actually given them a sense of being empowered to follow through. Most remarked they had learnt a lot and felt more positive about their ability to create change in their local areas that would then flow out to other areas in the world.

When we asked them to express in one word the past three days they answered with "Sustainable, Environment, Motivational and Inspire."

Their Vision statement
“We have come to learn that to need and to want are two totally different things. Through this we are now a society that embraces equality and peace for all and realises the natural world is beautiful. We now know that small ideas can come to big changes !!”

The Community Forum presented the five ideas the five teams focused on and this also contains how all in our communities can help these students with their Action Plans. The three days of the forum were explained, beginning with their own personal Focus and visions for the environment beginning with their individual thoughts about the environment, or what the students want to change, their Vision encompassed what the students want to see in the future, and this led to articulating Action Plans and what they can do to pursue these, part of this including the community to help them bring these changes about.

The Projects of these young adults came from five teams with five great ideas focusing on five topics.

1. Commitment and Understanding produces the idea of a Monthly Earth Hour

This encompasses: spreading the idea that an Earth Hour every month is achievable and will reduce the eco-footprint individual by individual.

Our Plan
• We want to achieve our idea of a monthly Earth Hour by advertising through the radio, TV, newspapers and flyers.
• After having it introduced to people we will contact earth hour.
• In two weeks we want to create our own Facebook page and collect signatures on a petition
• In one month we want to have the approval of the original Earth Hour organisation
• We really need your help because “IF THE EARTH DIES WE DIE TOO’

2. Unsustainable use of Resources.
These two young men from Pittwater High School presented idea on how to spread use Solar Power.
Our proposition is to present awareness that the use of non-renewable energy sources have on the planet. We hope to raise awareness of the positive effect solar energy has on the planet. From doing this we hope to increase the use of Solar Energy in the daily lives of all of us in Australia.
During our time at the Youth Leading the World Congress we’ve been exposed to a number of subjects that are potentially harming our earth. Out of these subjects we picked Solar Energy or renewable energy because we find that it is the continued use of non-renewable energy that has the biggest impact on the earth; such as the deforestation of our forests or the production of carbon damaging our atmosphere.
We propose that Solar Energy become our main source of power as it is renewable, a clean energy source, and if people had their own solar panels they would not be paying as much for energy and would eventually have no need for a non-renewable energy source that is damaging our world.

We have placed a petition at the back of the room and if you could all sign that it would help support our cause.

A video called ‘Peace Bomb’ was then shown which illustrated how old bombs are being made into jewellery. Great idea!

3. Unsustainable Use of Resources II – Envirobank – install in local areas
About Envirobank
Innovative Reverse Vending Solutions
Envirobank Recycling provides litter solutions for beverage containers in all public places, events, shopping centres, universities and more.
Envirobank operates effectively and efficiently in both non-deposit and deposit markets, we work with the beverage industry and other stakeholders in the recycling chain to help recover the highest percentage of beverage containers and turn those into a valuable commodity.  
We provide environmental impact reporting to our clients, detailing the number of containers recycled through our network, allowing them to report on their national packaging covenant targets or internal targets. Our clients recognise the value in ensuring their packaging is recycled.
How Envirobank Works
The Envirobank is a reverse vending machine (RVM) designed to provide a closed loop recycling solution.
This means that a container accepted into an Envirobank will find its way back into a consumer’s hand as another product.
The Envirobank’s scanning and sorting intelligence gives it the ability to sort recyclables and reject unsuitable containers, keeping the recyclable waste stream free from contamination and out of landfill. Using one of our network of Envirobank RVMs ensures that a container deposited is a container recycled.
Recycle for Rewards: Please Note;
Non-Deposit Markets – NSW, ACT, WA, VIC, QLD: No cash for container scheme in place: (clearly we need to help our next generation achieve this although the online website state a mobile Envirobank was recently at the Willoughby Street Fair and there are two permanent ones already at Kogarah, Crows Nest and Chifley Square)
Deposit Markets – SA, NT: Receive 10c for each container recycled
Over 5 million containers have been recycled already through Envirobank
From:
https://www.envirobank.com.au/

How you can help:
Provide a venue
Promotion
Sponsorship
Contact us on Facebook – Envirobanks for the Northern Beaches; by doing this we will be able to reduce the amount of waste that the Northern Beaches produces. But we can’t do this alone, we need your help to make this happen. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

4. An action plan for Solving Pollution – Fair Trade Products
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.

What are we doing?
We want to raise awareness and promote fair-trade. We are doing this with:
• Petition – for Coles to stock more fair-trade products.
• Facebook page – raise awareness using social media.
• Stickers – raise awareness with informative stickers on both Fairtrade and on-fairtrade products.

Our Goals:
In Two weeks:
• Facebook account created and 20 likes
• 50 signatures on petition
• Stickers designed and printed
   In One month:
• 500 signatures on petition
• Start presenting in schools
In Six months:
• Petition successful

What Can you do to help?
• Like the Facebook page: (Fairtrade: fair4all)
• Sign the petition available on Facebook or in hard copy form
• Check for the Fairtrade logo when buying tea, coffee, chocolate (Cadbury’s milk chocolate is now Fairtrade)

5. Factory Farming 
This presentation illustrated how many of the animals we eat are treated with growth hormones, kept in appalling conditions, subjected to painful and callous deaths. Factory farmed animals are sprayed with pesticides. Two out of three animals in the world are now factory farmed. The waste many of these animals stand in is knee high and we are consuming that every time we eat a factory farmed animal. World wide about 70 billion animals are reared as food for humans each year.

The presentation also pointed out that this excessive use of chemicals is leaching into the environment and contributing to the collapse of bee colonies and the eco systems they propagate.
Their plan: As a group we would like to educate people on organic produce and living and how to stop factory farming. Our plan is that in two weeks we will have a Facebook group page up and running and have an interactive presentation that can be utilised in schools

Spending a few hours with these young people affirms a commitment in the upcoming generation to improving not only their own lives but those of everyone in the world around them. Supporting these local initiatives and these young adults will affirm our own commitment as adults to ensuring their great ideas come to fruition and develop further goals.

They are a great group, ranging in age from Year 7 up to the last years of high school but were acting as one this week. They are a great reminder of focusing on what brings us together can achieve and how there is, in truth, no ‘us and them’ here…there is only us, all of us, and it will take all of us to help create and keep the world as we know it can be.

Vanessa Moskal, head facilitator, congratulated all the students on their work, expressed her thanks to Warringah and Pittwater Councils for supporting this great initiative and empowering the next generation, and to the Coastal Environment Centre for hosting the event.

 Northern Beaches YOUth LEADing the World Congress 2013 - Published on 7 Sep 2013

[Music by: Freelance Whales, Generator First Floor. Check out their YouTube Channel

A three day Youth Congress running concurrently in over 90 locations around the world. YOUth LEADing the World Congress is an initiative by OzGREEN Australia and hundreds of volunteers. This video is a short summary of one of the locations, Sydney's Northern Beaches on Australia's east coast. In 2013 the Congress was held at the Coastal Environment Centre in Narrabeen.

Made by the amazing Josy Clucky! See Josy's other films including a video of the 2012 Northern Beaches Congress at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz7BTc6iTSE

Thank you for watching. To learn more about the Congress see www.ozgreen.org

Vanessa Moskal of OzGreen YLTW and David Lowery of Coastal Environment Centre. 

Left to right: Mark Ferguson, General Manager at Pittwater Council, Mayor Jacqui Townsend of Pittwater Council, Mayor Michael Reagan of Warringah Council, Deputy Mayor of Pittwater, Bob Grace, Councillor Sue Heins of Warringah Council and Councillor Kylie Ferguson of Pittwater Council, and in the background: Josy on the left and Jessie next to her, photo-bombing this picture!! Yes - sprung! :)

Greeting Guests to the Community Forum (l to r):  Rachel, Grace, Ian and Harry.

These are Great young Adults - Do your best to Support them! 

Updates Soon !!!!!!!

Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon, 2013.