Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan marked a special occasion in the lives of nine young Canadian students when he presented certificates prizes to them at the Conference on Canadian Stewardship in Vancouver on September 13. The students represented their schools, which are top winners in a national project called the Canadian Youth Eco-Parliament. The program encourages students to take steps to reduce their schools’ eco-footprint.
The students were special guests at the conference, mingling with corporate CEOs and national environmental leaders who were there to talk about corporate environmental stewardship. In addition to Mayor Sullivan, BC Environment Minister Barry Penner delivered the keynote speech.
The Canadian Youth Eco-Parliament challenges students at the secondary school level to be more environmentally savvy by measuring the ecological footprint of their school and developing and implementing projects designed to reduce that footprint.
Across Canada during the past school year, students in sustainable development, environment and recycling clubs as well as science, biology and geography classes at 63 schools have accomplished feats ranging from convincing a municipal council to start a community-wide paper recycling program to implementing in-school water conservation to setting a school waste diversion target of 70 per cent.
“Through the Canadian Youth Eco-Parliament, thousands of young people are gaining first hand knowledge of the impact their everyday lives have on the environment — everything from letting the water run when they brush their teeth to the clothes they buy. It’s an eye-opener for them. But more importantly, they are learning that their individual efforts multiplied by hundreds of students across the country can help reverse negative trends,” said Damian Bassett, president and CEO of CSR: Corporations Sharing Responsibility, a major program sponsor.
The Canadian Youth Eco-Parliament is in its second year. It is part of a global educational program conceived and sponsored by PRO Europe, an umbrella organization of the various national compliance schemes in and adjacent to Europe that are responsible for the recovery and recycling of household packaging waste. Every two years, PRO Europe holds a European eco-parliament bringing together more than 100 young people between the ages of 14 and 17 from 14 countries to present the findings of their school eco-system projects to distinguished European political and civic leaders. Last year as part of the program, eight young Canadians attended the European Youth Eco-Parliament in Paris, France.
Bassett added that CSR thought it was important to keep the program going in the years between the European Eco-Parliament. With additional sponsorship funding from Encorp Pacific in British Columbia, the Recycling Council of Alberta, Green Manitoba, SARCAN in Saskatchewan and Stewardship Ontario, it promoted the program to schools across the country and received more than 60 entries. CSR invited student representatives from the top seven schools to the stewardship conference to receive their awards.
“We are huge supporters of the Canadian Youth Eco-Parliament program,” said Neil Hastie, president of Encorp Pacific(Canada), a not-for-profit stewardship organization which develops and manages a system to recover and recycle non-alcohol beverage containers in British Columbia. Hastie was also the host of the stewardship conference in Vancouver.
“We think it is doing great things by giving youngsters a fun and rewarding opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment — changes that they can see immediately. And we are particularly proud that a BC school, Ashcroft Secondary School, has won top honors two years running,” Hastie added.
See pages 36-37 for details about the winning schools.
Barb McConnell is Communications Director for CSR: Corporations Sharing Responsibility in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Barb at firstname.lastname@example.org