Greenpeace University welcomes its 2nd batch of future environmental leaders

Feature story - June 18, 2010
Greenpeace University (GPU), a pioneering initiative that seeks to foster young environmental leaders, welcomed its new batch of activist students this week. The project, now on its second year as Greenpeace is set to mark its tenth anniversary in Southeast Asia, will see nine environmentalist youths from Indonesia and Malaysia through an action-packed semester of hands-on and in-classroom activist training.

Greenpeace hosted the graduation ceremony of its first official training programme in Asia called the Greenpeace University. At the ceremony, the organisation outlined the inspiration behind the Greenpeace University and the first batch of graduates shared their thoughts and personal experiences on the program.

The brunt of environmental crises, particularly climate change, will disproportionately affect the youth, especially those in countries most at risk.  Greenpeace University aims to train young leaders to be the change agents the world needs in order to squarely confront and effectively solve these challenges, said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

This year, as Greenpeace is scheduled to celebrate its tenth year in the region, we are reminded that our success in Southeast Asia is partly due to

the strength of national environmental movements.  Organizing GPU is the least we can do to help strengthen these movements and give back knowledge

and skills accumulated from 40 years of international Greenpeace campaigning experience, he added.

The GPU program exposes students to the Greenpeace brand of environmental advocacy which includes campaigning, research, communications, and

fundraising, as well as non-violent direct action, which is central to Greenpeace activism.  The program is designed to be a good mix of theory and

practice, with a combination of input from internal and external resource persons, experiential learning through workshops and actual work placements,

with students being treated as interns in real Greenpeace campaign settings. Students will also be required to develop and/or participate in a project

that helps advance environmental campaigns in Southeast Asia.

Last year¹s batch comprised six students, all from Indonesia.  As part of the program, the participants took part in major Greenpeace projects such as

the TckTckTck movement during the September 2009 UN climate meeting in Bangkok, and the Climate Defenders Camp in Riau the following month. The

students also produced advocacy articles which appeared in national publications.

GPU batch 2010 students are aged between 19 and 29 and come from Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Malaysia. Two participants are already working in

Indonesian environmental NGOs, while the rest are students.  Five are female. As with last year, the students are expected to participate in

actual Greenpeace campaigns.

There are many environmental leaders in Southeast Asia, but the scale of the environmental crises we are facing are such that we need eve more

committed and skilled environmentalists.  We also need to ensure that this tradition continues and indeed multiplies - in the next generations.  Many,

if not all the advances in environmental protection in the different countries in the region were achieved through the relentless activism of people who cared enough to give their time and energy to make a better world.  Through GPU, we hope to nurture that commitment and passion so that the youth will recognize and assume their responsibility to seek and actively create solutions for a green and peaceful planet, Hernandez concluded.

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