The EAS Youth Forum: Empowering Young People by Informing, Inspiring and Involving
How do you get 45 young people from 10 countries together for 5 days to focus on a not-so-cool topic for youngsters — the sustainability of the marine environment? Would having them mix and mingle with lead scientists, CEOs, policymakers and leaders from within and outside the East Asian region participating in the East Asian Seas Congress 2006 bring forth something good to the region's marine heritage?
The Coastal Management Center (CMC) and the GEF/UNDP/IMO Regional Programme on Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) believe that the young people in the region can become partners in promoting sustainable development of the seas in the region.
Why an EAS Youth Forum?
Gathering 45 young people, selected from more than 200 applicants for their achievements and active involvement in their universities, is a new endeavor for the East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2006, which was held in Haikou City, PR China on 12-16 December. The EAS Congress is a major regional event focused on sustainable coastal and ocean management that seeks to address key issues and problems affecting the region's shared seas. The first EAS Congress, held in Putrajaya, Malaysia in 2003, culminated in the adoption of the Putrajaya Declaration and the endorsement of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) by ocean and environment-related ministers from PEMSEA's 12 member countries.
One of the highlights of the 2006 Congress, the first-ever EAS Youth Forum is a milestone as it gathers future leaders in marine environment conservation and protection efforts in the region. The five-day assembly aimed to: 1) provide a venue for dynamic knowledge sharing and youth empowerment; 2) increase the youth sector's awareness and appreciation of the rich marine heritage of the East Asian Seas region; and 3) enable them to understand the dynamics of coastal and marine management through discussion and interaction with experts, authorities and fellow young environmentalists.
The activities were specifically designed for young people. These included outdoor activities, the leadership talk and Youth Jam with Experts, as well as interesting lectures. The participants also got to know experts, policymakers, media and high-profile guests as they also attended the workshops, seminars and plenary sessions of the International Conference on Coastal and Ocean Governance. Moreover, they were also given a chance to listen to the environment and oceans ministers during the press conference.
International initiatives that involve young people in the preservation of the marine environment also supported the Youth Forum. The World Ocean Network distributed the Passport of the Citizen of the Ocean to participants, which provided creative ideas on how to care for the Blue Planet while Clean Up the World provided memberships to participants' organizations which initially entitled them to a wealth of information available in the kit being distributed to members.