Youth learning to make a better environment with YGXC

YOUTH GREEN X-CHANGE: YOUTH IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The year-long Youth Green X-Change (YGXC) programme recently concluded on a high note with youths pledging to do their part in keeping Mother Earth healthy, particularly rivers in Sarawak.

During the three-day YGXC Camp held in Matang Wildlife Centre from March 20-22, some 40km from Kuching, 92 youths ranging from 16 to 35 years old had the opportunity to learn more about river pollution caused by indiscriminate dumping of solid waste, and the importance of 5Rs (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repair & Refuse) which is an extension of 3Rs.

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YGXC Camp participants and their facilitators in a gotong-royong activity, ‘Nature Beautification’, to help fix the gabion wall along a river in Matang Wildlife Centre in conjunction with World Forestry Day. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

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During the ice breaking session, participants imitating the action and sounds of an animal. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

The YGXC is a youth outreach programme conceptualised by Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) Sarawak, Angkatan Zaman Mansang Sarawak and WWF-Malaysia in conjunction with the board’s 20th anniversary. The programme is jointly organized by the Department of Environment, Batu Lintang Teachers’ Education Institute, Sarawak Energy Bhd, Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, ZHA Environmental Sdn Bhd. The programme was also supported by Forest Department Sarawak and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

Since it was launched in April 2014 at a youth seminar, various other programmes were held subsequently. The programmes included an environmental-based photography, short film, essay and feature writing competitions, an environmental outreach programme for media, YGXC roadshow at summer mall and publication of weekly environmental related articles in The Borneo Post, The Borneo Post SEEDS and Utusan Borneo (between November 2014 and March 2015).

The YGXC camp was the highlight of the programme as youths from different backgrounds in the state were roped in to share their concerns on the environment and aspirations, and to put their ideas into actions through a viable project that they can carried out.

After a series of brainstorm sessions, the campers proposed the following actions:

  1. Zero-Waste Carnival (a competition to collect rubbish thrown along rivers)
  2. A reality television show that promotes environmental awareness
  3. River adoption programme for village, school and housing area
  4. Early awareness intervention among children

Panelists comprising senior officers and conservationists from NREB, WWF-Malaysia and SFC provided constructive feedback to youths on how they could further improve their proposed action plan and activities.

Of the four proposals, the reality television show held the most potential to be implemented by the youths within a year.

Campers also had a field day in gotong-royong activity, ‘Nature Beautification’ to help upkeep the Matang Wildlife Centre. The activity was held in conjunction with the World Forestry Day (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22) celebrations. They also had a chance to learn about night photography by a self-taught night wildlife photographer Badiozaman Sulaiman, and a talk on old tyre recycling by ZHA Environmental Sdn Bhd technical engineer Fong Tze Hang.

 

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YGXC Camp participants and their facilitators in group discussions on how to address river pollution.

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Democracy in progress as YGXC Camp participants vote for which suggestion to be taken up as their future action plan to address river pollution.

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YGXC Camp participants and their facilitators in a gotong-royong activity, ‘Nature Beautification’, in conjunction with World Forestry Day. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

 

To conclude the YGXC column, here are some voices of the campers:

“I think the camp is really great because we get to see nature up close and be ourselves during the activities. River pollution is the most worrying problem to me because we need water in our daily lives. It’s not much but I want to start recycling things properly.” – Nurfatin Naja Mohamad Redzuan, 20, UNIMAS student.

“I liked the nature beautification activity we did by the river the most. I will try to encourage more people to practice good habits for the environment.” – Michelle Slan, 19, matriculation student

“It’s nice and better than I had expected. I thought sleeping surrounded by the jungle would be bad but it isn’t. I enjoy the brain storming sessions a lot. I am very disturbed by river pollution because we can see the drastic drop in the quality of water. I will try to start more environmental activities at school with my teachers and friends.” – Kimberley Ting Hie Ping, 17, student, SMK St. Elizabeth, Sibu

“The camp is great because it’s an experience that I can relate to from living in a village. The brainstorming sessions are very exciting. I am very worried about water pollution because I know how badly people treat the rivers. I will try to educate people about proper waste disposal to ensure that the environment is less polluted.” – Edwin Brain, 19, Sarawak Matriculation College, student

 

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YGXC Camp participants and their facilitators posing for a group photo at the end of the first day of the camp.©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan


 

The Youth Green X-Change is a youth environmental awareness programme, organised in 2014 by Natural Resources and Environment Board Sarawak, Angkatan Zaman Mansang Sarawak, World Wide Fund For Nature Malaysia, Department of Environment Sarawak, Teacher’s Education Institute- Batu Lintang Campus and Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd.

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