The APAY 2nd Regional Conference on Climate Change was held on October 16-20, 2017 at Daegu, Korea. Sixteen youth leaders and Change Agents from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Taiwan participated in the program jointly hosted by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, Global Alternative Tourism Network, and YMCA of Daegu.
The main objective of the conference is to highlight the importance of youth’s indicative involvement in addressing climate change and to be more climate sensitive. It also aspires youth to take part in climate solution through the presentation and implementation of their action plans.
Cherry Camille C. Depano and Wai Lwin Lwin Aung, Change Agents from the Philippines and Myanmar respectively, led the opening worship. In the opening program, Nam Boo Won, General Secretary of the APAY, welcomed and congratulated the participants for completing the E-learning course. Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) Coordinator, Beng Seng Chan, inspired the participants by encouraging them to be the next mentors of the E-learning. He pointed out that the action plan was the expression and concrete evidence of the understanding of the subject matter.
In the session, Beng Seng talked about the Paris Agreement. It is a voluntary agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep the global temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees. Rev. Dr. Chang Yoon-Jae, professor of Systematic Theology at Ewha Womans University, gave a biblical reflection entitled “Climate Change and God of the Rainbow”. Dr. Kim Yang Hee talked about Gender and Climate Change. She accentuated that women are vulnerable because of climate change but they also play a significant role in forging a sustainable solution. Dr. Park Sukhyun spoke about food and water security. She concluded that innovation is important yet it needs to be well designed under a precautionary principle.
Also, Duncan Chowdhury explained the seventeen (17) Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) but focused on Goal 13- Climate Action and how it relates to tourism. He mentioned the 5 P’s- People (supporting the local entrepreneur), Planet (climate protection), Prosperity (benefit from the local), Peace, and Partnership- which are necessary for sustainable and responsible tourism. Patcharin Aviphan, director of Sao Hin YMCA Chiangmai, Thailand introduced the concept of water footprint to the participants. She explained how scarce water resource is and gave ways on how people, on a personal level, through lifestyle and conscious choices could conserve water.
All inputs, lectures, and information given served as an inspiration and an eye opener to be more conscious, sensitive and aware as a young person. Aside from the lecture, there was also a community exposure where participants visited the Espace Park, a community park, which was developed by Daegu YMCA. The different plants, flowers, and orphanage for the wild animals were introduced. But the highlight was the showcase of the Art Bike. It was made even more exciting when they were allowed to experience it. Similarly, the four-river project was introduced and it sparked an interesting, fruitful and meaningful discussion about the creation and effects of the damn in the ecosystem. As a result, they had a deeper appreciation on the importance of taking care of the rivers and the importance of considering the long-term effects of decisions.
The Regional Conference on Climate Change is a five-day capacity building program for YMCA youth leaders and change agents to be more climate aware and sensitive. On a personal note, I can say that attending such conference made me a better person. I became more passionate and fired up to implement my action plan in my local YMCA, and I am more challenged to take the lead.
In the end, a statement which is hope to serve as a manifestation of the desire to make climate action a key agenda in the APAY was created by the participants to take home and serve as a challenge for their respective YMCAs.