A once in a lifetime opportunity was presented to three Samoan early career environmentalists last month to take part in Environmental Heroes Leadership Programme sponsored by the Conservation International Hong Kong.
Hemara Niualuga, an information science student from the National University of Samoa, Jamal Tamasese from Samoa Voyaging Society and Danita Strickland an early career scientist with Conservation International took part in the two week programme in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. The three were part of a carefully selected group of 13 from international aspiring environment heroes.
The programme’s objective wasto prepare the most passionate and promising youth leaders to become “change agents,” who can effectively influence the public to change their behaviour and take real actions in support of biodiversity conservation also known as “nature conservation”.
The programme was led by Jude Wu, Country Director for Conservation International Hong Kong (CIHK) who provided in-depth training for the 13 Heroes over an intensive 11-day boot-camp that included workshops, field trips, expert lectures, and a capstone project where the Heroes apply the lessons learned to design environmental initiatives/campaigns.
The participation of the Samoan group provided opportunity for diverse perspectives. Upon completion, the Heroes stay connected as an online peer community to collaborate and report back on their progress to test and implement initiatives that increase awareness and actions to support global biodiversity conservation.
“The dialogue and passion these youths engaged in during this programme provides great hope for the future,” said Danita Strickland.
“They are genuinely concerned for the well-being of all and are eager to not move beyond dialogue and take action, however small their actions may be they want to actively contribute to addressing environmental woes.”
The programme takes a holistic view of the many types of general public support needed for biodiversity conservation, including both (1) increasing public awareness, concern, love for and interactions with nature, as well as (2) influencing individuals to take actions to reduce their negative impacts on biodiversity.
“I would like to acknowledge CI Hong Kong for their support in enabling us to be part of this programme, we found it extremely invaluable and will no doubt reflect what we learnt in our work,” Strickland said.
Conservation International in Samoa continues to make these opportunities available for aspiring and established environmentalists of Samoa.