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A Green Future in our hands: The HAA Green Summit

Delegates of the inaugural Green Summit 2022, Humanitarian Affairs Asia

Imagine the feeling of going to a completely different country alone, knowing no one, and spending a few days with people who you haven’t met before from different parts of the world.

Being an international student, I had already faced this situation, but it was unique this time; delegates from 31 countries around the world, having different cultures, languages, etc. but one thing in common – the zeal for a better sustainable future, a hope to see this world a better place to live in. That is what united all of us, as one of my delegates said in his reflection speech, “they all were delegates when I first stepped into the hotel, but today they are my friends.”

Explaining each step of this journey would take so long, so let me make it short, but before that I’d like to thank Humanitarian Affairs Asia, the United Nations, and UTS BUILD for giving me this opportunity to be a part of the Summit.

Each day, waking up at 5 am and leaving the hotel at 8 am was tiring, at least it was for “not a morning person” like me, but honestly, I always looked forward to the next day with excitement for tomorrow, the hunger for more knowledge and to spend time with my fellow delegates (btw, not to forget United Nations catering was damn delicious).

For people who really want to get into the United Nations, here is a piece of good news for you. As Felipe Queipo, Communication Officer, says, “The UNITED NATIONS needs you much more than you need it”. As far as you have the passion to bring a change, why not? 

The UNITED NATIONS needs you much more than you need it. As far as you have the passion to bring a change, why not? 

Felipe Queipo, Communication Officer

Across the 3 days at the United Nations Conference Centre, we had 8 speaker sessions, one workshop, and 3 green day activities, so basically, a lot to do.

All the sessions were fantabulous and I can’t choose one but below I’ll mention the takeaway from the two sessions which I related to the most.

1) How to Talk to People Who Do Not Care About Sustainability by Felipe Queipo, Communications Officer, Department of Global Communications, United Nations, New York

I’m sure almost everyone has met people who do not care about sustainability, who do not think beyond themselves, and who never believe in giving back to nature. For me, I have met tons in the past one year, but these questions always remained unanswered – “What do I do about it? How can this problem be tackled? Is there even anything I could do or not?” Thanks to Mr. Felipe who answered almost all.

If I were to summarise in 5 words they would be – Communication, passion, empathy, channel, and mechanism. The answer to all questions lies here, and only when all of them come together, is when we can accomplish that.

Choose a channel, to communicate with the audience you are referring to, have a mechanism of engagement, and most importantly talk about something that connects to them rather than using the technical non-related (about the surrounding they live in) terms which most probably they won’t care about.

Individually, yes, we all can make a difference by erasing our carbon prints – but the question is, “How can we do it together?”

Don’t wait for someone to join you, be fearless and start it on your own, slowly and gradually there will be people who’ll be a part of your journey. After all, these are global issues and can be resolved only when everyone comes together – and that is exactly what Mr. Kim says as well.

2) Why You Should be a Climate Activist by Max Hellier Climate Activist

The first thing Max asked us was, “What is the picture of an activist in your mind?” Everyone had almost the same answer – an angry highly energetic person with posters in hand, shouting and protesting. Instead Max showed us it is not limited to only this. People who use controversy to put forward their story, make an uncompromising decision not to support an industry which is not sustainable, etc. are also activists.

The discussion we had in this talk, really moved me. Honestly, how many of you think about the sustainability of an item before buying it or before investing in a company? I’m sure very few. 

So what should be done? Only support the businesses that morally and ethically line with your values. What do I eat? What to wear? Who do you elect? It all matters. Choosing renewable energy supplies, flying less, buying secondhand, electing wisely, and what you prefer on your plate can all be all conscious choices.

What do we do instead? Repeated blame on cars, airplanes, buses, because they are more tangible as we see them daily, but the industry itself is funded by our choices; and what exactly do we choose? Our choices are based on comfort, social acceptance, and most of all, if few things are unattractive, we tend to choose the easier option irrespective of considering its effect on the climate. Allow communities to come together and take part in collective activism. Don’t fund/support unsustainable businesses in any way. After all, “When choice becomes popular it becomes a movement, when movement turns into a passion-able community it becomes unstoppable.

It’s up to us to decide how the story ends, and we all surely do not want to be the reason for our extinction and hundreds of more species.

Shreya Gaur, UTS BUILD Global Ambassador Grant Recipient

On Green Day, we cleaned the river which did make us a bit sad and discouraged at first seeing how bad the condition was, but once we started cleaning it, we never wanted to stop and wanted to do more. The passion I saw that day, in everyone was massive, and I believe when people with the same motive, passion, and zeal for a better future come together they can make a change! The bus trip, vegan food, meeting the local community, and seeing the outer city side of Bangkok made it a day I would want to live again. 

I’d like to end this by saying, “Perfection doesn’t matter; what matters the most is progress and improvement, each step you take toward a sustainable future counts!”

I highly encourage university students and young leaders to be a part of such summits, which give us the opportunity, to learn and build connections. After all, the most important things in life are the connections you make with others. 

It’s now or never. # togetherweserve #climateaction

By Shreya Gaur
Bachelor of Biotechnology
UTS BUILD Global Ambassador grant recipient

About Humanitarian Affairs Asia (HAA)

Humanitarian Affairs was founded with a mission to empower leaders of tomorrow and provides boutique programs to youth who are curious about social change and desire to transform their communities.

Humanitarian Affairs aspires to tackle global challenges and serve society by getting young people involved. We believe in cultivating a spirit of selfless giving and contributing to the development of youth, no matter where they are.

HAA initiatives include the University Scholars Leadership Symposium (USLS), the Green Summit, the Peace Summit, the Social Impact Summit, the International Diplomacy Forum, as well as opportunities to Get Involved as an intern or youth leader.

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