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Passion for Sustainable Development Prevails over Pandemic

By Mira Chan, Grade 10
Passion for Sustainable Development Prevails over Pandemic

Canadian International School of Hong Kong Global Goals Student Council (Photo credit: CDNIS)

Despite over two years of school closures, interruptions, and social restrictions due to COVID-19, the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) Global Goals Council (GGC Council) stayed committed to providing free, unique, interactive opportunities to empower youth engagement in the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals). Originally planned as a full-day and interactive face-to-face event, the Council responded to continued government-imposed group gathering restrictions and diverted to a highly pragmatic and immersive virtual experience. Over 250 participants representing more than 50 schools, universities, and NGOs from nine different countries, gathered together to share their passion for social and environmental activism and explore the potential of “Partnerships for Sustainable Change.”

The Summit brought together multiple high-level local and international speakers, including an executive at the World Economic Forum, individuals on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, sustainable industry veterans, etc. To kick off the Summit, the Council featured a captivating and evocative keynote from the Green Queen herself, Sonalie Figueiras, that set the scene for the event. Her call to action was passionate and thought-provoking, leading to a meaningful Q&A session with the audience. Melati Wijsen, a 20-year-old changemaker who is no stranger to world stages, inspired us all to take action at last year’s Summit, and returned this year with Gab Mejia and Ziyaan Virji. They shared her new initiative that embodies the power of partnerships, Youthtopia. Melati shared that “it was so empowering and very exciting to be part of an event like this.”

To provide a deep dive into local issues in the Hong Kong community, we had Jeffery Andrews (Christian Action), Marine Thomas (The Nature Conservancy), Edmond Leung (Feeding HK), and David Begbie (Crossroads) engaged in an NGO panel discussion to examine the nature and impact of community partnerships through the lens of four of Hong Kong's leading NGOs. We learned about the importance of finding and following your passion, the importance of community investment, relationship building, corporate partnership, and the power of youth volunteers. We also learned that partnerships have enormous potential to help us achieve our sustainable development goals, but also come with associated risks; as one speaker advised us to “be intentional in your partnership aims and motivation.”

Mira, Article Author and Global Goals Council Member (Photo source: CDNIS)

As this is an event planned by youth, for youth, my personal highlight of the event was the youth panel discussions based around the Ps of sustainable development: Peace, Planet, People, and Prosperity. It provided a unique opportunity for the participants to interact with inspiring and outstanding individuals of their age. They shared the realities of kickstarting their own initiatives and gave concrete advice for anyone who wished to do the same.

The event culminated in a chance to collaborate across schools, NGOs, and communities through ideating and pitching a solution to a problem. This session was led by Danny Harrington and his team at the ITS Education Asia Foundation. Participants demonstrated important cooperation skills through pitching a solution to a real-world problem by focusing on different targets under SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals. The session ended with a pitching competition among the participants. Congratulations to students Skye, Cobie, Chantal, and Patrina, mentored by GGC Council founding member Bella Li. They will be awarded an invaluable Youth Changemaker Incubator mentorship program valued at $7,000 HKD!

The GGC Council faced many unforeseen challenges when putting together this large-scale event in this current virtual climate. The frequent and abrupt changes in government restrictions impacted our ability to collaborate as a team and run the event we envisioned. This was an invaluable learning experience for me and the rest of the team. The innumerable hours of planning and preparation paid off when our 250 registrants signed up and were ready to learn and engage with each other on “Partnerships for Sustainable Change.”

Please follow us on our social media to stay up to date with the GGC Council’s initiatives, and feel free to get in touch if you wish to collaborate. We hope to see you at next year’s event, where we plan to host the event face-to-face!


Mira is a grade 10 student at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong and a CDNIS Global Goals Council Member.

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