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Empowering Chinese youth to build a sustainable future

RSPO recognises that youth can play an important role in environmental and conservation efforts, and over the years we have worked on various initiatives to engage more young people globally to help promote biodiversity protection and sustainable palm oil consumption. In China, RSPO recently collaborated with WildBound to launch a youth-oriented initiative called the ‘Changemakers for Nature’. The programme aims to empower youth with the knowledge and tools to demand change across the supply chain with the aim of a more resilient economy and society.

Since the launch, various activities and programmes have been organised by WildBound, such as the Impact Week at Tsinghua International School (THSI) from 21 to 25 September 2020. Through the programme, the students learned how to be a responsible consumer, participated in cross-media activities to learn more about consumer impacts on global biodiversity and forests, and had in-depth discussions on what they and their schools and communities can do to protect the environment. 

The students also came up with various creative ideas to promote sustainability, such as using multimedia channels to create murals in their schools, and developing videos to raise awareness on the issues via social media. Some of them even suggested developing a video game or organising a music festival to raise funds to promote the importance of environmental protection.

Another noteworthy initiative by WildBound was the inaugural Changemakers for Nature’s online course, which was organised from October to November last year, where 30 participants between the ages of 16 and 28, and young professionals, participated in a 6-week programme. The course consisted of four hours per week of lectures and discussions with invited speakers, who shared best practices and their organisations’ initiatives.

Besides RSPO, other guest speakers were from China’s Friends of Nature, Beijing Farmers’ Market, the Amazon Yawanawa tribe, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), COFCO International, Mars, Indonesia’s Secretariat for Sustainable District Association (LTKL), Embassy of Brazil in Beijing, Norwegian International Climate and Forests Initiative (NICFI), International Finance Corporation (IFC), CDP, the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA), and the World Economic Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance.

Upon completion of the online course, the students designed and developed their own impact projects to research, analyse, and design actions to drive change. On 20 December, they presented the topics of their impact projects to their peers and a panel of judges, which included  developing a documentary on the palm oil supply chain, and creating an interactive online platform for protecting ocean biodiversity. 

“Thank you WildBound for offering this excellent course. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and I believe more young people and companies need such training and resources to implement sustainability in the future,” said Taylor Zhang, one of the participants of the programme, and also a Global Sustainability Specialist at a multinational company.

Last year, youth from the Changemakers for Nature programme also participated in the Asian Youth for Sustainable Palm Oil (AYSPO) Summit, which was held virtually on 24 October. Together with 300 youth from across Asia, they participated in discussions, and shared ideas and best practices. The students from THSI led the discussions during the China breakout room session and shared the knowledge that they gained at the Impact Week.   

The Changemakers for Nature programme has garnered the support of the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products (CFNA); Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO), Ministry of Ecology and Environment; Embassy of Norway; and the World Economic Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance. 

Despite facing various challenges due to the current global pandemic, more organisations, businesses, and people realise the close relationship between humans and nature, and the need for them to exist in harmony. Through collective actions across all sectors, we can build a more sustainable future together.

For more information on how you can support the next sustainable palm oil event in China, please write to feifei@rspo.org or wan.jian@rspo.org.