Visit to Mai Po with WWF-Hong Kong

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17 February 2015 / WWF-Hong Kong kindly invited us to visit Mai Po Ramsar site and observe their popular 4-hour Secondary school Mangrove Ecology programme.

We joined around 30 Upper Secondary students from Tai Po on a guided tour covering habitats including reed beds, gei wais (traditional shrimp ponds), mangroves and mud flats that make up Hong Kong’s 1,500 hectare Wetland of International Importance. Winter (January – April) is the best time to visit when the site becomes a haven for migratory birds including the Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) (IUCN Red List- Endangered).

The visit is part of our new initiative as the newest Hong Kong members of WLI, to build capacity and knowledge for best practice in wetland education at our site in Tai Tam, and support development of other programmes around Hong Kong.

Big thank you to Cecily Yip, Education Manager for WWF-HK for her time and we look forward to future projects!

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Green Politics talk- Victoria Shanghai Academy

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16 February 2015 / We were invited to Victoria Shanghai Academy to give an interactive talk on “Green Politics- Do you have the will to power?” for around 100 Grade 6 students.

This talk was developed by our Education Associate Director Dr Vickie Yau for UNESCO Hong Kong Association’s Fostering Global Citizenship Youth Programme 2014-15.

Thanks to VSA teachers Matthew Wong and Andrew Webb for organising our visit.

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HKU ELSS 2014/15 inauguration

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12 February 2015 / Congratulations to the new cabinet of the 2014/15 Environmental Life Science Society of the University of Hong Kong (ELSS)!

ELSS are a society of first year students majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity at HKU with the mission to promote the study of environmental life science and to raise students’ concern on ecological and environmental issues.

Back in 2013 we met representatives of ELSS 2013/14 through the consultation to draft Hong Kong’s first Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP), and were able to support them to organise a hands on (ie wet, messy, but fun) intertidal ecology workshop at Tai Tam for Secondary students.

Prof. Yvonne Sadovy of HKU’s School of Biological Sciences gave one of the speeches at the event. She noted that Hong Kong is an urban society and joins more than 50% of the world’s population which now lives in cities, but that there is often a disconnect between urban city dwellers and nature.

According to a recent survey, half of Hong Kong children had never walked barefoot on grass, and that in her field courses to Starfish Bay students regularly showed up wearing high-heeled shoes. And yet students still choose to study biological sciences…

She asked us to think about the balance between development and biodiversity conservation, because isn’t that ultimately a question of quality of life?

Prof. Sadovy said there were three ways of changing: you have to know, you have to care, and then to change your behaviour. Her three wishes for the ELSS Embracers were: 1) talk to schools and show your passion; 2) reach out to the university first year students; and 3) be demanding consumers‎ and make good choices for sustainability, write letters to push for a difference as this works- just look at the ivory campaign on Facebook.

We were also struck by the speech by Roy Cheung, ELSS Chairman 2013/14 who unfortunately couldn’t attend on the day. He said to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are” and that knowledge is power and then we should act on it- don’t just leave comments on Facebook!

Thanks Embracers for the fantastic event (and thoughtful gift!) and we look forward to working together to “speak up for nature”!

Highly recommend their Inauguration Video.

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JCEIA Annual Conference 2015

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24 January 2015 / We attended the annual conference organised by Joint College Environmental Innovation Alliance (JCEIA) about municipal solid waste.

JCEIA are a group of students and graduates of environmental related subjects who believe they can and should do something to make the world better, and they regularly act on this- from organising conferences for information and ideas exchange, to innovative street action such as their Bag Back campaign reducing use of plastic shopping bags, one shopper at a time!

The waste conference was a fantastic event with a full house and fascinating presentations from Government, NGOs and corporates. See programme here. Did you know that in Hong Kong:

-we recycle 50% of our MSW, which is comparable to Berlin? (unfortunately the rest is landfilled, unlike Berlin where it is converted into energy)
-we are among only two airports worldwide that uses seawater for flushing?
-we throw away 1.36kg of MSW per person per day, 40% of which is food waste? And that the Government has pledged a $1bn recycling fund to promote innovation in this sector.

All showing us that Hong Kong is doing surprisingly well, but we can do better and there is huge potential for innovation and growth in this sector. Environmental graduates take note!

**JCEIA were clear that this was to be a waste-free event and to their credit all but a few of the 400-plus participants brought their own mug!

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TTT @ Utahloy International School Model United Nations

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(16-18 January 2014) This was the first MUN held at Utahloy International School in Zengcheng, Guangzhou. We were invited as the keynote speaker and moderator to speak on global issues related to plastic waste and resources.

Over 80 secondary school students in southern China attended the 3-day conference.

Feedback from the organizing teacher, Mr. Ladd said, “Your workshop was excellent and you brought a very high level of expertise and knowledge to our conference. Just as important, you know how to interact with the students and engage them.”