OzGREEN holds “Youth Leading the World” congress in over 50 locations
OzGREEN’s “Youth Leading the World” congress is a bold initiative to educate and inspire young people to act on their environmental and social concerns. Now in its fourth year, “Youth Leading the World” (YLTW) is held over three days, November 27 - 29, 9am to 3pm, in Hobart and over 50 other locations across Australia and overseas, connected via Skype and social media.
The non-profit organisation OzGREEN is inviting students aged 12 - 25 (core age 13 - 17) to attend the congress free of charge, individually or with a group from their school. 3,000 young people are expected to take part. Participants learn about climate change and related challenges of clean energy, food and water security, and biodiversity. They work out their own eco footprint and then move on to create a vision for a fairer and more sustainable future and develop individual action plans for change at home, at school and in their communities. On the last day, they present the outcomes at a community forum, open to all interested residents, politicians, business owners, school principals and parents.
Nick Bearlin-Allardice, a former participant and now board member of OzGreen and Australian director of change.org, says: “I can only encourage young people to attend the congress even if you think you don’t have anything to contribute. You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you are surrounded by like-minded people and develop tools to unleash your own creativity.”
Sue Lennox, OzGREEN’s founder and CEO, agrees: “It’s been absolutely amazing to see thousands of young people across Australia and globally move from a place of disengagement to being empowered, passionate and actively tackling climate and water challenges.” Lennox launched YLTW in 2009 because she was concerned about the lack of significant action and political leadership on critical sustainability issues. “It was clear to me that we needed to foster a new kind of leader – fueled by passion for fairness and grounded in their own values. We knew our youth programs could deliver and it was time to leverage that.” OzGREEN decided to hold multiple smaller congresses simultaneously to reach as many young people as they could and connect them via social media to help them feel part of a larger community working for a common cause.
In the lead up to this year’s YLTW congress OzGREEN recently trained another 60 facilitators to run the congress in their communities, ranging from coal mine-dominated Muswellbrook to the Pacific Island nation Kiribasi, which is only one to three metres above sea level. “The buzz at the facilitator training was fantastic. We are all hoping to empower our local youth and give them the tools to put their own ideas into action”, says Vanessa Moskal, 21, who has been part of the facilitator team since 2009 and was recently elected as the youngest councillor to Warringah Council on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Jaden Harris, one of the six founders of Sydney Youth Climate Action Network, can’t praise YLTW enough: “It has kick-started a whole new life for me. Before I felt I was the only one at my school who cared about the environment. Then, at the congress, I met dozens of other concerned people my age and the energy in the room was astonishing.”
Location in Hobart:
School of Geography and Environmental Studies, Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania.