Creating a Greener Future through Global Citizenship Education
Founded in 1946, the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) has met annually in February since the 1995 United Nations World Summit for Social Development to discuss the next set of actions that must be taken in order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IVECA is proud to have been a part of this year’s 61st session of the CSocD following this year’s theme- to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On February 10th, IVECA hosted a webinar event following the theme of “Global Citizenship to Rebuild Sustainable Cities with Eco-Friendly Recycling Energy Systems.” The event aimed to promote the virtual connection between universities in different countries and facilitate their research and collaboration towards clean energy recycling systems worldwide, with the help of governments and private sectors working together with NGOs.
The webinar was held with a highly esteemed panel of expert speakers. His Excellency Choonghee Hanh, former deputy permanent representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, kicked off the webinar by elucidating the overarching goal of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), Quality Education. The Ambassador shared the importance of cultivating global citizenship in education (SDG 4.7) as it affects our individual relationships with others, our communities and the planet.
Ms. Lily Gray, Senior Liaison Officer at the UNESCO New York Office, further emphasized the Ambassador’s point, introducing the Greening Education Partnership, a program that aims to improve student’s climate change education through four action areas: greening school, greening learning, greening capacity and greening communities. Additionally from the UN, Mr. Omar Hernández, Public Information Officer and Program Manager of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative discussed UN programs to build sustainable cities, SDG 11. Through its global network, UNAI connects young leaders with policy makers and provides a platform and guidance in order to empower university students to create solutions to critical challenges such as climate change.
With the challenge of creating a greener world in mind, Dr. Scott Carlin and Dr. Mariel Friberg both touched on improving waste management. Providing multistakeholder partnership strategies, Dr. Carlin, Associate Professor of Geography at Long Island Post University, emphasized the significance of shifting to a circular economy that focuses on reducing waste, improving our health and natural environment, rebuilding ecosystems and creating new jobs. Dr. Friberg, Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, supported Dr. Carlin, sharing the impact of plastic waste on the environment and climate change and how the transport of microplastic particles impacts our quality of health. Along with the stakeholders’ collaboration, she addressed the need for technologies to monitor and mitigate toxic emissions.
The panel was then asked to share technological solutions available and actual cases of building sustainable cities. Mr. Jungseok Lee, director at EcoFlame, an eco-friendly technology company, discussed how various wastes and plastics have been handled: recycled, reused as pyrolysis oil (oil extracted from waste plastics) and incinerated. Pointing out that pyrolysis oil refining and waste incineration processes still generate toxic pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHS) emissions, he introduced an eco-friendly combustion system that can efficiently reduce air pollution while increasing economic savings. Mr. Donghwan Kim, President at DHE Corporation USA, shared that his engineering company is focused on city planning, renewable energy, and wastewater treatments. As an expert on eco-friendly sustainable city design and planning, Mr. Kim commented on the great need of implementing a combustion device that can minimize the GHS emission and stressed the importance of providing financial resources and training young people.
Suggesting to provide an educational platform for students to take the lead in making an environmental impact, IVECA’s Founder and President Dr. Eunhee Jung spoke on the shared mission to connect university students, NGOs, scientists and companies to encourage change and improvement in partnership. She drew global similarities between the struggles we all face and stressed the benefits of sharing locally specific conditions to generate effective solutions. The panelists heartily agreed that sharing love and compassion for one another, and the planet, is key to inspiring young global citizens on their path towards creating a brighter future.
In conclusion, the virtual event provided experts with an opportunity to exchange knowledge, ideas and existing technology about creating sustainable and livable urban environments. The discussions highlighted the importance of holistic approaches that integrate various aspects of urban planning such as energy efficiency, waste management, and green spaces. Moving forward, it is essential to continue the dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders in the private, public and non-governmental, non-profit sectors, but mainly between educational institutions across the globe to expedite and facilitate research and to implement innovative and effective solutions for building greener cities that benefit both the environment and communities.
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