On 5 June the World Environment Day, over 300 youth representative from universities of 39 countries and regions gathered in the 129 Hall of Tongji for the “City and Nature” Summit during the International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability 2015. Students shared the innovative thinking and best practices on the topics of sustainable development education, eco-system management and climate change, eco-city and green lifestyle. This Conference is co-hosted by Tongji University, the United Nations Environment Programme and Xinhua News Agency.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon send his remarks for the World Environment Day. He said, “Humanities continue to consume far more resources than the planet can sustainably provide. Many of the earth species are reaching a critical point. This is time for us to change. Let us celebrate the World Environment Day by becoming more conscious of our ecological impact. Let us think about the environmental consequences of the the choices we make. Let us become better towards our planet”.
Chief Editor of Xinhua News Agency Shanghai Bureau, Ms. Jiang Wei read the remarks for Mr. Cai Mingzhao, the President of Xinhua News Agency. The remarks say, “Youth is the major force for the future urban development. I hope to see youth’s leadership in forging eco-city and green lifestyle and build the earth a home for the harmonious co-existence of man and nature.”
The Chairman of Tongji Council, Prof. Yang Xianjin said in his remarks that Tongji University has been endeavored in sustainable development education for future leaders, and Tongji has now become one of the forerunners of sustainable development education in the world. The annual event of the International Student Conference on Environment and Sustainability provides a platform for the youth to share innovative theories, technologies and practices.
During the summit, the UN Assistant-Secretary-General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw delivered a keynote speech. He said, “This year’s World Environment Day is themed on Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. We would like to invite the global youth to re-evaluate the impact of human activities to earth and practice the green lifestyle. This Conference is a platform for the world youth to raise their voice and inspire them of solutions for emerging environmental and development issues.”
Vice President of Tongji University, Prof. Wu Jiang delivered a speech by illustrating the key factors and challenges for green city development with Shanghai as an example. He emphasized that “green and sustainable development” is the long-term strategy for urban development.
As a special event for the World Environment Day, a dialogue on “Is this the golden times for the earth” was held. UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Tongji Vice President Prof. Jiang Bo and Chinese actor Mr. Zhu Yawen discussed green lifestyle and citizen’s responsibility and encouraged the youth to live a green life. Mr. Thiaw, Prof. Jiang Bo and Mr. Zhu Yawen also joined the students from Green Road Association of Tongji in the activity of “Leaf Print – Love Green Love Life” by printing leaf vein on the banner of the Conference and leaving wishes for environmental protection.
Two sessions of the Sustainable Development High-end Dialogue were also held during the Summit. The dialogues were moderated by Mr. Ma Jianguo, the Member of the Board of Xinhua News Agency Foreign Bureau. During the Sustainable Development and UN dialogue, Mr. Percy Wachata Misika, Representative to China, Magnolia, and North Korea of FAO, Mr. Jong Soo Yoon, Head of the UN Office for Sustainable Development, Mr. Chen Boping, World Future Council Chief Officer in China, Mr. Zhang Yimo, Manager of Strategic Planning of WWF China, Ms. Yan Wenjing, a representative of United Nations Volunteer, Mr. Zhou Jinxing, a student representative joined the dialogue and shared the linkage between the work of UN and sustainable development and youth practices. During the Urban Development and Youth Responsibility dialogue, Ms. Catherine Ross, Deputy Director, National Center for Transportation System Productivity and Management and Director of Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mr. Yang Zhenbo Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, UNICEF China,Mr. Young Woo Park, IESD professor, Ms. Danielle Drost a student representative discussed the green path of city development and youth engagement.
Today, the Klaus Toepfer Environment Scholarship (2015), the Green Seedling Fund (2014), and the Green Future Award (2015) presented the awards to their winners. More than sixty students from environment-relevant fields of more than thirty universities are engaged in these projects. Twelve student teams win the prize from the Green Seedling Fund for their research projects, and thirteen academic articles and reports win the Green Future Award. Five projects from Tongji University won the two awards. Chairman of IESD Board, Former Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China and Director of the Resource Conservation Committee of the 11th NPC, Prof. Wang Guangtao, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, and Tongji Vice President Prof. Jiang Bo and Prof Wu Jiang, Vice Dean of UNEP-Tongji IESD and the College of Environmental Science and Engineering Prof Li Fengting, actor Zhu Yawen presented the awards to student winners.
The five winner teams of Tongji Universities are as follow. Three teams from the Environmental Science and Engineering School win the Green Future Award: <Shanghai Sustainable Water Resource Utilization Survey> by Li Yifei, Chen Shuyi, and Yang Hongyi; < Shanghai Environmental Health Survey> by Ding Yajie, Zhou Shaohua, and Sun Xiaofeng; and <Shanghai New Energy Automobile Development and Environmental Benefits—an investigation on Shanghai electric automobile hourly rental model> by Cheng Kuan. Two teams from the Environmental Science and Engineering School win financial support from the Green Seedling Fund: <Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhengzhou Smog Pollution: Status Quo and Control Strategies> by Sun Zhihao, Dong Yanan, and Liu Misha; and <Comparison of PM2.5 Distribution of Typical Chinese and Foreign Citiesh Cities> by Liu Mengtan, Li Feng, and Sun Xiaofeng.
The “Green Seedling Fund” scholarship and the Green Future Award are established by Beijing Green Future Environment Foundation for University (undergraduate, graduate, and PhD) students of environment-relevant majors. The Green Seedling Fund awards student scientific research projects, encouraging students to innovate, invent, or answer academic questions, particularly in an inter-disciplinary manner. The prize for each selected project is 20,000 RMB. The Green Future Scholarship award student social practice projects, encouraging students to conduct social research on environmental issues of local or social concern, and write on existing national/local environmental policies. Each selected report or article is awared 10,000 RMB.
The Klaus Toepfer Environmental Scholarship was established by Dr Klaus Toepfer, the Chair Professor of IESD of Tongji University, in November, 2007. Being the first scholarship for university students from environmental fields, the Klaus Toepfer Scholarship aims to promote environmental education in China.
Today, the conference also exhibits 150 posters from student participants. These posters show their social practice and opinions. The conference organizers and participants will vote for the “Best Poster Award”.
Before today’s Summit, students have participated in the Green City and Sustainable Transportation Seminar, ProsPER, Net Sustainable Higher Education Forum, University Student Sustainable Projects Presentation, and “City and Nature-Promoting Youth’s Participation in Sustainable Development”. These seminars, workshops, field-trips, and poster exhibitions promote frontier knowledge sharing and idea exchange. The Conference will conclude on June 6th, with the announcement of < Global Youth Tongji Announcement>.
The organization committee said, it is extremely important to gather university students from all other the world to discuss critical environmental and sustainable development issues. The conference provides the platform for students and junior scholars to discuss these environmental issues, build their capacity to understand and solve environmental challenges, and voice their causes, and promote cooperation on environmental education through GUPES.