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In Pursuit of Global Environmental Sustainability

Written by Lavanya, Grade 10

My name is Lavanya. In January 2019, I moved from Mumbai, India to Basel. I am in Grade 10 Yellow.  The sustainability goals of ISB's Environmental Society resonate with my beliefs; so I joined the society to understand the different ways in which I can contribute to sustainable practices. 

I believe that every step towards the pursuit of global environmental sustainability, regardless of how big or small, can help change the world. The first step to any sustainable practice is to gain awareness. Back in April 2021, I took part of this first step by attending the MET Green Conference, hosted by the Metropolitan School of Panama. This was a two-day event (held on 9th and 10th April 2021) about climate change, where the first day was filled with workshops and the second day was collaborative work. 

On the first day, there were four workshops. The first workshop was about alternative materials to plastic and how they could be disposed of. A few materials were bagasse (a dry pulp that remains after extracting juice from sugarcane), PLA - polylactic acid (made from corn starch), and bamboo. It was informative and eye-opening. I wasn’t aware that there were so many alternatives to plastic that were around the same price. It made me think about how so many industries (such as industries that make disposable food containers) could use these natural materials for the same price, yet they continue to use plastic. If we start using more environmentally friendly materials we would have to cultivate them exclusively for industrial purposes or import these materials. 

The second workshop was given by Mr. Hanoch Barlevi; a climate, environment, and disaster risk regional specialist at UNICEF; where he explained UNICEF’s role in battling climate change. UNICEF helps give young adults a voice so they can map their future. He also talked about an initiative where UNICEF provided a toolkit called the Young Climate Activist Toolkit, which helps teenagers make a difference by teaching them about climate change and its agreements. The toolkit is available on UNICEF’s website and is free to download. It is split into small sections/books and explains each topic in simple words. The toolkit aims to educate young adults so that they can participate and bring about change in an informed and effective manner. I think this is helpful to educate ourselves and so could be part of the sustainability at ISB website.

young climate activists toolkit

The third workshop was by a sailor in Panama who wanted to clean and recycle the trash from the rivers and oceans. She started to organize cleaning drives and is now working on having a recycling center built in the middle of the town. It was inspiring to see how she went from just small cleaning drives to now having a recycling center in the city. She showed us that every change or contribution, even a small one, can help in the long run and might even turn into something bigger. 

The last workshop was by an organization called Uno Punto Cinco, which aims to educate people about climate change. They taught us the causes and consequences of climate change using a game. We had to guess which causes what, eventually forming a mind map, which made it engaging and easy to understand. 

On the second day, we talked about our interests in sustainability. Then, we formed groups of people who had similar interests and discussed initiatives undertaken in our respective schools. They praised the meat-free day campaign we had at school and expressed an intent to do the same at their school. We wrote an Enviro-Pledge to raise awareness about sustainable food and to try and make changes in our personal lives. I think the Enviro-Pledges were a nice way to learn to work collaboratively with strangers and achieve a goal. 

I am thankful to ISB for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and meet like-minded students. Although the conference was in the latter part of the day, I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a weekend well spent. :)