“Environmental Envoys” from 18 countries visit Bayer
Project part of partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bayer
Since Sunday, 50 Young Environmental Envoys from 18 countries on four continents have been spending a week in Leverkusen, Germany, at the invitation of Bayer to find out about developments in and prospects for environmental protection and sustainable development. The young people on the field trip were selected from around 1,200 participants on the basis of the environmental projects they presented in special competitions organized by Bayer in their home countries.
“The visit gives the young people a wide range of options for expanding their environmental knowledge and making contacts with like-minded contemporaries from all over the world,” said Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of Bayer AG’s Board of Management responsible for Innovation, Technology and Environment, when welcoming the program participants. “In the years since its foundation the program has led to the formation of a network of young environmental protection activists who look to tackle global environmental challenges armed with sound expert knowledge.”
So far, some 8,000 young people have applied for a place on the program and almost 400 have been invited to visit Germany.
“Today, we are dependent more than ever on young people dedicating themselves to the task of safeguarding the future of our society, thereby furthering their own interests and the opportunities of subsequent generations,” said Director General Dr. Helge Wendenburg, Directorate Water Management, Waste Management, Soil Protection at the German Federal Environment Ministry, at the opening ceremony. “After all, the state of the environment determines the living conditions of young people all over the world in real terms.”
“Nearly 90 percent of young people across the globe think world leaders should do ‘whatever it takes’ to tackle climate change,” stated Satinder Bindra, UNEP Director of Communications and Public Information citing a recently conducted UNEP worldwide survey on the attitudes of youth towards Climate Change. “These are the voices of the generation that will inherit the impacts of climate change if world leaders fail to act.”
The Young Environmental Envoy Program, launched in Asia in 1998, is one of the key elements in an alliance between Bayer and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) centering on environmental education programs for young people. The program focuses primarily on the world’s fast-growing emerging economies. Originally introduced in Thailand, the concept was subsequently extended to India, China, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Poland, Turkey and Kenya. This year for the first time, the Environmental Envoys include young people from South Africa.
The study trip gives young people from around the world an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the principles and practice of modern environmental protection in Germany. The Young Environmental Envoys visit various Bayer sites and talk there to experts on the environment. The program also includes excursions to the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection and AVEA, a waste processing and disposal facility in Leverkusen. The aim is to give young people a fuller understanding of what role industry, authorities and private households play in the field of environmental protection and how they interact. Discussion sessions and an international exchange of ideas among the young people round off the program.
It is hoped that when the Environmental Envoys return home they will be able to raise awareness of sustainable development by passing on the impressions, experience and insights they have gained. Many former participants in this Bayer initiative now have jobs where they play a key role in environmental protection in their home countries.
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