Young climate leaders taking a photo with Former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who gave a surprise visit

Young climate leaders taking a photo with Former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who gave a surprise visit

Over 50 young people from Singapore were joined by 350.org friends and supporters from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam, for the Singapore Power Shift, which was held from 12th to the 13th July. The two-day climate action workshop focussed on educating and empowering the group on topics such as Climate Change & Singapore, Local & Overseas Youths Movements, Coordinated Global Efforts, as well as Campaigning skills.

A participant of the workshop, Ilaria Ida, a Global Social Mission Manager at Ben & Jerry’s said of the atmosphere at the workshop, “Jerry always says – if it is not fun why do it? – I had a lot of fun at  Singapore Power Shift and was truly inspired by seeing so many action-oriented young people determined to halt climate change.”

With the bulk of the participants ranging from 17 to 20 years of age, the event also provided a platform to allow these youths to network with other participants who had prior professional working experiences and knowledge in dealing with various social causes. This was done through group discussions, interactive sessions as well as over the various plant-based meals provided over the weekend.

With first speaker of the day, Bhavani Prakash of Eco Walk The Talk

With first speaker of the day, Bhavani Prakash of Eco Walk The Talk

On the first day of the workshop, the Singapore Power Shift participants also interacted with speakers from local groups such as Eco Walk the Talk, National Climate Change Secretariat, The Leafmonkey Workshop, People’s Movement to Stop Haze, Shark Savers Singapore and Nature Society (Singapore) and overseas speakers from 350 Malaysia and 350 Vietnam.

“I am amazed to learn the thoughtful and futuristic policies implemented by Singapore government in addressing the pressing climate change issue, the global involvement as well as their engagement with the local society,” said Wong Xiao Cheng, a final year student at The University of Nottingham and a Rockstar Intern at The Hub Singapore. The Malaysian who is new to Singapore felt fortunate for the opportunity to rethink her former illusions towards both Singapore and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). “I am most inspired by Yi Han’s work in solving haze problem. Being affected by haze every year since young, like any other Malaysians and Singaporeans, he chose to step out of his comfort zone and stop complaining. He visited Indonesia to investigate the root cause, and still working hard despite lack of committed talents in his team. To me, every single step like his makes huge difference, and all we need is a little courage like his to take the first step.”

Taking steps to make huge differences was a view echoed by another participant, Mei Jia Tan who is studying Environmental Studies in Conservation Biology at Middlebury College, Vermont, USA. “I’ve been a part of Singapore’s youth environmental movement, so attending Middlebury College in the U.S. where 350.org all began was almost like a dream. Now, I’ve seen how movement building works in the States, and coming back home to Singapore Power Shift was testament to our determination to keep building and keep standing for what we believe in. Having people representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives – youth leaders from the region, international policy gurus, government representatives and people from the corporate world – and seeing them come together to share their part in the climate movement was the hallmark of Singapore Power Shift. I would love to see what comes out of SPS!”

Participants listening intently to Joseph Dela Cruz of Climate Actions Network International for their campaigning workshop

Participants listening intently to Joseph Dela Cruz of Climate Actions Network International for their campaigning workshop

On the second day, the group underwent a campaigning workshop and afterwhich, pitched their ideas to a panel, comprising of Ryan Jin from Earthlink NTU, Nor Lastrina Hamid from 350 Singapore, as well as Francis Joseph Dela Cruz of Climate Action Network International. Thought-provoking questions were asked by the panelists and participants were challenged to think of more positive and creative campaigns. Ideas on integrating climate change related issues into corporate social responsibility programs, diverting food waste to on-site composting units, encouraging establishments to go polystyrene-free, animal conservation and creative actions, and even having “green kampong” communities  in the urbanised Singapore were brought up during the pitch. These campaign ideas will be synergised and developed further into an actual campaign, in the coming months.

Cuifen Pui, a Community Garden Organiser who successfully gathered at least 100 residents in 10 months at her estate to create an edible garden in the park said of the usefulness of the campaigning workshop, “The community garden project is very new. Being a non-gardener, I am very thankful for the support expended by neighbours, gardeners and landscape designers, who helped turn a long-time dream into reality. Lacking the know-how of leading a group of diverse views and ages, the workshop helped clarify the process of bringing people together, and identifying who is truly committed and involved. I look forward to learning more on how to sustain this project over the longer term.”

Nor Lastrina Hamid of 350 Singapore interviewing Former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed

Nor Lastrina Hamid of 350 Singapore interviewing Former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed

One of the major highlights of the Singapore Power Shift was a surprise visit, on 13th July, by Former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who is a respected climate change campaigner and also sits on 350.org’s International Advisory Board. The inspirational figure shared on how he got started as an environmental activist, and suggested on the need to be a committed activist or a decision maker to help create more impactful changes in this world.

“President Nasheed’s commitment to decreasing carbon emissions on Earth has shown me the reality of how far one needs to go, to make a difference. It has inspired me to not be afraid to beyond the norm when fighting for a cause,” said Janvi Kalra, a summer volunteer at 350 Singapore who has only been in the country for a year, and was roped in to emcee the workshop just one week before the workshop.

Singapore Power Shift was made possible with support from the Global Power Shift team and Young NTUC

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