UNESCO Office, Jakarta and UN CC:Learn are organizing the “Youth Leadership Camp for Climate Change 2017” in collaboration with The Climate Reality Project Indonesia and with the support from Youth for Climate Change Indonesia. There are three locations for the camp, including a field trip to UNESCO’s site in each location: Cipanas, West Java, with a visit to Cibodas Biosphere Reserve, 4-6 February 2017; Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra, with a visit to Gunung Leuser National Park, 18-20 February 2017; and Bandar Lampung, Lampung, with a visit to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, 24-26 February 2017.
Ahsania Almas Rusyda Aghnetta, a 17-year-old participant of the Youth Leadership Camp for Climate Change, wrote about her experience in applying for and attending the camp in Cibodas.
Last January I read a broadcast message about a Youth Leadership Camp for Climate Change (YLCCC) and was really excited since I have been thinking about how to spend my youth for positive activities. I would love to do something valuable yet really cool for many people or for the environment
To apply for YLCCC participants should be between 17 to 25 years old, and I just turned 17 four days earlier. There is finally an opportunity to do something good.
Another requirement for YLCCC application is to gather five people to form a group. It was really tough, to be honest. Because first of all, there were only a few students in my class who had turned seventeen before the application deadline. Also many of them did not find this activity interesting.
I tried to convince my friends by explaining that the camp is free of charge, and if accepted we will definitely meet a lot of people, and acquire a whole load of new knowledge. Plus, we only have to send in our CVs, to write motivation letters, and to fill out an application form. Luckily, there was a good friend of mine who had turned seventeen and was interested in applying.
I managed to gather three more people that I knew from a previous leadership event. Our struggle to apply, however, did not end there. Apparently this event attracted 805 candidates. There would be a rigorous selection. I knew I did my best in writing the motivation letter, but I am just a high schooler who still had to learn many things; hence, I should not expect too much.
The announcement took some time since the YLCCC committee had to review tons of documents to select 50 participants of high quality for 10 groups.
I had to say the process made me a little anxious. Even though I did not expect much, I still looked forward to the announcement. I checked my phone, perhaps a milion times after sending in the application.
Finally on Thursday, February 2nd, the committee announced its decision. I was so disappointed as my group was not on the list of acceptance. I guess I saw that coming, so I calmly informed my friends that we were not selected for the camp in Cibodas.
Imagine how shocked I was the next morning when the organizing committee notified me that our group is going. It was a close call! H-1, and i had to inform the group members who live in various locations.
What happened was, some of the groups selected, that came from all over Indonesia, had to cancel due to short preparation time and our group was lucky to be given the opportunity to fill in. We managed to complete the final requirements and joined the camp in Cibodas.
All participants assembled at Bogor Agricultural University campus to be transported to the Cibodas Biosphere Site on Saturday, February 4th. On the bus the organizers gave us instructions regarding camp activities. They also distributed one tumbler to each one of us for personal use.
Our first task was to separate each group’s wastes into two trash bags. One for dry wastes and the other for organic wastes. I could hear some of the participants complaining, but it actually was a good start for changing our habits. I did not mind doing it since my school already has this practice and I am used to it.
During the journey to the camp site we had to come up with a group name and a shout-out. My group was JoPeLing, that stands for Jomblo Peduli Lingkungan, Indonesian words for “environment caring singles” as all of us do not have steady dates yet.
Our camp site, Wisata Agro Inkarla, is located near the gate of Cibodas Biospehere Reserve. As soon as we arrived, one of the instructors, Ms. Lia Zakkiyah, welcomed us. She is really a pretty and cool lady. Lia instructed us how to check-in and to proceed to the first session. I already felt like joining a perfect event created for me.
Participants, in a number of groups, received keys for their accommodations in apartements and villas. Inkarla is a fancy, nice and comfortable place.
Many things happened on the first day. We had a pre-test to measure our knowledge before the training. Afterwards, there was a lot of information to learn. First, Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, explained about UNESCO, its programs for Biosphere Reserves and the World Heritage Convention. We also absorbed the details about Cibodas Biosphere Reserve from Mr. Ade Bagja Hidayat as well as Man and the Biospehere Programme from Prof. Purwanto, the Executive Director of Indonesian MAB Programme National Committee, LIPI.
Ms. Amanda Katili Niode, the manager of The Climate Reality Project Indonesia presented the basics of climate change, its impacts and solutions. In this session I managed to get a lot of information about the earth’s current state and answers to the previous pre-test questions, which I found difficult to answer. I am happy that we can be part of climate change solutions.
Through Ms. Murni Titi Resdiana, the Assistant to President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change we learned about carbon footprint, what it is, and how to calculate ours. Quite surprising, because just by eating meats we can produce a high carbon footprint. We then had a group discussion to count our daily carbon footprints. It was like admitting my sins to the earth. I felt guilty, and promised myself to change some of my habits tight away.
I must admit that at first I did not understand much about the subjects on the first day. Participants had different levels of knowledge. I had many things to learn before reaching the same level as theirs. Although my group is the only one with high schoolers in it, we experienced a great event and gained a lot of new climate change information from the camp.
In the evening, after our dinner break, we learned about how to communicate climate change issues and how to speed up our suistainable behaviors from Ms.Lia Zakkiyah, Deputy Assistant to the President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change. We were trained how to organize campaigns and to perform effective communications to change people’s behaviors. It was a rare thing to learn, which added to the great points of this event.
In one session, participants had to write down the kind of future they imagine in 2030 in terms of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. We thought hard based on our knowledge and interests and somehow became futurists.
At the end of the day every group wrote a report about how the day went, what things we learned, and how we felt about it. The organizers checked our trash bags, which made us anxious as it seemed like a competition between groups. The best was one that separated their wastes accurately, with the least amount of wastes produced.
The next day we learned about ccommunicating our campaigns through short movies from Mr. Ray Nayoan, a film director at Pelabuhan Mimpi. He taught us how to make a short movie, from developing stoies to using cameras and other technical stuff. I actually have a big interest in making movies as I wish to be a movie director someday. So, I was in charge of writing a script and directing the group’s movie project. We decided on #BringYourOwnTrashBag for a theme and had so much fun making a short movie at Cibodas Biosphere Reserve.
After the massive knowledge received about the Cibodas Biosphere Reserve, all kind of plants that are in there, and the movie shots, we finished day two with an evening of vegetarian barbeque. It was really a relaxing and pleasant gathering after a long day of activities. Participants had a good time getting to know each other better. As for a high schooler like me, I had an excellent chance to meet great college students and asked them about a lot things in terms of university life and organizing activities that benefit the general public.
At the last day of camp we worked to finish our movie project and planned for post-camp activities. YLCCC was not only a three-day climate change training as we are also required to do some actions afterwards.
During the last session, participants had to do a post-test with similar questions as the pre-test. I comfortably answered all of the post-test questions. It was proof that we learned many things during YLCCC.
It is exciting for all that there will be one person from this camp selected to attend a Tribal Climate Camp in Seattle, USA. Our post-camp activities will be one of the criterias for the selection.
In my opinion, YLCCC is really a great event. It was a chance for us to experience, to learn, and to perform climate solutions.
I personaly would like to thank YLCCC organizers for giving me and all of the participants such an awesome opportunity. I do hope that there will be many more events like this in the future, not just for youth but for anyone who is willing to act for change.
Text: Ahsania Almas Rusyda Aghnetta. Images: YLCCC