Global young leaders on China's first National Ecology Day: Green is Gold
Enoch Wong

August 15, 2023, marks China's first National Ecology Day, as the nation moves to build a shared future for all life on Earth. Since Xi Jinping took the helm as Chinese president in 2013, China has made unprecedented efforts to protect the ecosystem and combat climate change.

With Xi as the top commander, China declared war against pollution, "We are going all out to clean up pollution with unprecedented efforts. I hope Beijing and the rest of China will always have blue skies, green mountains and clear waters, so that our children can live in a good environment. This is also an important part of the Chinese dream."

To understand more how this occasion is received globally, CGTN's Enoch Wong spoke with international experts and young professionals during the recently held Global Young Leaders Dialogue (GYLD) 2023 Annual Forum in Beijing.

Global young leaders on China's first National Ecology Day: Green is Gold

“As an international organization representative, I welcome China's first National Ecology Day as an opportunity to raise awareness further,” shared by Thierry Meyrat, personal envoy of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) President. Meyrat added that the stakes could not be higher: the planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity and conflicts. Our planet, especially among the developing and underdeveloped countries, is experiencing its largest loss of life since the dinosaurs. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Global young leaders on China's first National Ecology Day: Green is Gold

“The change starts from us. These changes can be small things that we can do today,” as Olesia Ermakova, the Beijing curator of SCOLAR Network (a youth-led initiative platform affiliated with the Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), pointed to her own clothing items. Ermakova is a Russian girl who has been living in China for six years and has been living a "zero-carbon lifestyle," which means recycling and reusing everyday items to reduce waste. Ermakova expressed her hope that everyone, especially young people, can lead and take on more responsibility for a better planet.

Global young leaders on China's first National Ecology Day: Green is Gold

“My hope is that the National Ecology Day, can once again, spark intensified international cooperation amongst youth all around the world in protecting our shared environment,” as Koen Smeets, an international relations scholar from Peking University Yenching Academy, recalled and referenced the landmark biodiversity agreement of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), which was chaired by China. On the last day of intense negotiations, COP15 adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF),which aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights. Smeets elaborated that the National Ecology Day could enable youth to share their personal insights, and build deep cultural understanding and lifelong friendships critical for many other global initiatives to succeed, too.

Global young leaders on China's first National Ecology Day: Green is Gold

“I want to see a world where men and nature can live in harmony, and I believe the economy and ecology can and must thrive side by side. These cannot be compromises and are not mutually exclusive choices or dichotomies,” shared Alliance Niyigena, who is a Norwegian graduate of Tsinghua University Schwarzman College and currently the Beijing II Hub Curator of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community. Niyigena believes it is crucial to increase financing to halt and reverse nature loss, especially for climate-vulnerable and developing countries, but China can act as a role model in practicing the sustainable approach that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, in other words, green mountains are themselves gold mountains.

The GYLD 2023 Annual Forum is jointly initiated by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies (ACCWS). With the theme of Global Development and the Power of Young People, selected outstanding young professionals from diverse backgrounds, distinguished international experts and opinion leaders were invited to engage in discussions and dialogues on current important global development issues. In August 2022, foreign young representatives of GYLD programs received a reply from Chinese President Xi Jinping, encouraging them to contribute their youthful energy towards advancing the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind.

(All images are provided by CCG)

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