Myanmar, 7 July 2020 – On the World Refugee Day, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), in partnership with Karenni Community College (KnCC) at a refugee camp in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, Level Up Academy (LUA), and Seh Teh Learning Center (STLC) in Kayah State, Myanmar, organized a virtual cross-border youth exchange forum to broaden and share ideas about environmental issues among 71 youths (35M, 36F) across the Thai-Myanmar border.
The opening ceremony began with a minute of silence to commemorate the World Refugee Day, the video of the chief of UN giving a message on World Refugee Day 2020, and a short film “From Battlefields to Refuge: Introducing Salween Peace Park”, the winner of Equator Prize 2020, which is about a landscape conservation initiative of Karen indigenous people.
In this forum, guest speakers from Wildlife Conservation Services- (WCS) – Myanmar, and Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) – Myanmar shared knowledge and insights about biodiversity, ecosystem services, challenges and linkages of socio-environmental system, and nature-based solutions to make a better future amid a new normal situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there were some technical problems during the forum, all participants were very active in group discussions to find ways they could take care of the environment at individual, family, and school levels.
Apart from the youth exchange forum, JRS also organized an online forum for 40 teachers (23M, 17F) from Karenni Community College (KnCC), Level Up Academy (LUA), and Seh Teh Learning Center (STLC).
From the two cross-border forums, youths and their teachers have developed the following action plans to save the environment in sustainable ways.
- Planting trees (at the individual and school level) – each school will make a policy that students must plant a tree before they graduate.
- Raising awareness of environmental protection in their communities as a project that youths are required to do.
- Integrating environmental awareness-raising, conservation, and ecosystem in the school curriculum.
JRS also cooperated with the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) – Myanmar to support guiding the schools throughout the development of the local curriculum on environmental education and conservation.