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Story of a girl who wants to achieve whatever she dreams of! 

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I have always been an optimistic child. An 18 years old, pursuing undergraduate and residing in Odisha since 2006. Painting, craft, singing, dancing, badminton runs in my blood and everyone knows me for my creativity. Being an academically excellent child since early, it wasn’t late when reality ended the fairytale and self-realization led me to carve out my path. I continued opting science under peer pressure, for my +2 which I still consider my biggest mistake, but I opted for the stream I like, in my graduation, defying the opinions of others, even my own family. Well! Past is a beautiful teacher.

Now, I am paving my way for the things I want from my life and myself. I am a stage lover and presenting myself makes me feel so amazing. I participated in Odisha Queen pageant in October,2019 and found solace in the social responsibility task of working for a cause. I found something through the task that channeled my benevolence. I like being recognized and have been in college level sports, completions and various other activities which have shaped my personality.

As a lover of art and nature, I search for a deeper meaning and purpose in whatever I do, and this is exactly what captivated me to the Young India Challenge.

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I am inclined towards art and activities which create positive impact and change. So, starting small, I opened my Instagram art page (@the_gargi_gallery https://www.instagram.com/p/B7WL2bfJ-pX/?igshid=1s92f149ze1r6 ) in January this year, with big dreams in my eyes and determination in my mind. I have always found peace in doing what I love, and no opportunity is better than the one which would guide me to turn it into a profession which would be impactful. Young India Challenge’s theme and agenda coincide my interests and I am looking forward to having an experience worth cherishing forever!

I have learnt “ You would never be able to escape from your heart. So, it’s better to listen what it has to say.”

#DoWhatYouLove

Author: Gargi Mandal (11th YIC Alum)

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Story of ‘The Free Sale Org’

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Growing up in an Indian middle-class family during the late 90s and early 2000s, especially when you’re the only child for a decade, and more importantly a good student, your fate is sealed – either you become a doctor or an engineer! Instead of #DoWhatYouLove it was more like #EitherLoveWhatYouHaveToDo or #DieTrying. So how was I to be spared?! I ended up clearing one of the most difficult entrance exams and now I’m a doctor. 

 

I love how they make such amazing movies in Bollywood like 3 idiots, ZNMD and YJHD and tell you these practical stuff about how it’s so important to follow your passion, be excellent in what you do, don’t settle and you’ll succeed beyond imagination. Everyone around you will absolutely enjoy watching these movies but when you try to implement these fundas in your life they’ll tell you it happens just in the movies! I did a survey in my medical school to find out the prevalence of depression, and I found that a shocking 67.3% of the medical students were depressed. 

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During my second year of medical school, I came up with the concept of The Free Sale Org – an organization that collected clothes, bedsheets and other utilities from people and put a free flea market for the poor. It served 2 purposes – the obvious being that the indigent mass got a chance to experience shopping as per their choice and the other being sustainable recycling of clothes, a dire need today. In fact last week we extended our spectrum of activity and did a cleaning activity in the neighborhood. 

 

I’ve always had varied interests. But the two things I absolutely love is traveling and writing about them. In the future, I want to amalgam that with my medical education to come up with something special, my #LoveWhatYouDo.

 

Author: Anandita Pattnaik (11th YIC Alum)

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Illiteracy is an injury to the nation’s development and  a blemish on the future of our kids

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So, just like everyone, we wanted to do something for the society and since it is said that charity begins at home, we started with our initiative Project SURAKSHA – a social initiative  by me and my friends in the city of Jaipur which started with door to door collection of old clothes during Diwali where we got around 6000-7000 clothes in just 3 weeks and turned up to be our drive to teach underprivileged kids of slums who were indulged into begging.

Teaching is a service and not a transaction. And this thing motivated us to teach them. It’s been around 1.5 years of teaching them and they have come out with flying colours who have a zeal to achieve and change their lives. While teaching them , we came face to face with the ground realities of these kids which we are generally unable to see except on media like unavailability of water, sanitation etc.

This again forced us to think more and expand our horizon  of thinking resolving their issues.

The best part which keeps our spirits and  motivation high is our hard-working team. People got attracted with our vision to make a difference in the society and supported our cause in one way or the other like providing milk – bread once in a week, providing Stationary, helping us in teaching and so on. Our initiative got into a shape in which we wanted it to be when these kids were admitted into a  school where they’ll not only learn to study but will  also learn the basis of life which they have always desired for.

It is said that education is the key to success. So, we are just providing them the key to a more beautiful world where they’ll be able to achieve their dreams. Along with that, we are trying to bring some qualitative changes in their life through yoga, painting, moral values etc. We also take them on small picnics and educational trips to zoo, biological parks etc. Besides, we’re trying to help their parents as well with documentation, getting jobs etc.

And we are still trying our best to bring changes in more and more lives helping and contributing to a greater cause of building a nation where no one is uneducated.

Author: Aayushi Gupta (11th YIC Alum)

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Are we changing OUR habits with the Changing Habitats on Earth?

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The Earth is Changing, Impacts are also Changing

Glaciers are melting, Temperature is Rising,

Devastating Floods in certain Regions that remind me of childhood Days…

These Days, Do we observe more?

Or Internet Timeline is flooded with these observations

Are we changing OUR habits with the Changing Habitats on Earth?

Hello, I am Gaurab Saha, an Electrical Engineering Graduate from Assam Engineering College is about to think. I belong to a small village town, Mankachar on the banks of Brahmaputra where the corrosion is normal from some years although the inhabitants know the rise in water level is an alarm to flood in Assam. The Dams overflows recently with rising water levels in Brahmaputra and devastated the Economy and Agriculture along banks which when turned into normal facts in recent days.

It rains but with uncertainty around it. The weather changes any time and the weird patterns of temperature rising and rainy days change the time for the seasonal-plant’s growth and flowers blooming. These changes are affecting the economy and also create decline in other sectors and create an imbalance within the change in Earth and population.

Although there are many problems around along with the Climate Change that starts a change in my reactions and acts for the Earth. I started research and joined some of the awareness campaigns against Climate Change during the College days. After leaving job for the degrading dust filters and changing weather, I started to think about the actions against Climate change. Currently, I am a freelance writer, amateur painter and passionate entrepreneur and following the passion to #DoWhatIYouLove. Besides being raising awareness campaign I joined some networks for Climate Change Action and now being a part of Young India Challenge looking forward for more opportunities ahead to be the Change.

Author: Gaurab Saha (11th YIC Alum)

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I focused on my imperfections, shaped them in a more imperfect way

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Living in the society as a female is a proud thing with empty number of problems in disguise. Adding to this, a differently abled girl unfortunately has to face many sympathetic tortures. I am born differently abled, which never bothered me. When I look upon my right leg and right fingers, I don’t find it nasty, I find it beautiful. The sympathy that the society showers is the toxic thing I have ever experienced. Any sports you’ll  think you are able to do will be discouraged for sure. Doctors said I  won’t walk properly, but I did. I walk like a human with all its imperfections. My parents always supported me in taking part in elocution competitions and music, thus I went to that field, even then somewhere in my heart I knew I wanted to be a sportsperson. When I was exactly in 4th standard, one day my science teacher conducted a Q&A session in the class and I wanted to answer one particular  question so desperately, I lifted up my hands up in air.

The teacher shouted at me put your filthy and broken hands down. That’s the moment I started to go in depression, I cried, I showered my anger on my parents. Then this emotions grew up with me and I felt I am a useless mass of blood and flesh for this mother Earth. That time I was exactly broken and a sudden introspection came into my mind which is the only reason today I am writing this. I was taken to Sabari mala, (a religious place in Kerala, We have to walk a lot and climb mountains for reaching there) at the age of 2 and from my 4th age I climbed this place all alone holding my father’s hand and successfully went to this place 7 times in total. My depression was a candle light and my memories were like a wind which saved the candle from melting. I focused on my imperfections, shaped them in a more imperfect way.

They discouraged me in sports, I played badminton, they told I will not be able to put the Thala (which is put using the right hand and fingers in Carnatic music) I showed them that through my Carnatic debut concert, then for adding and shutting their mouth I showed them I can also play a violin. I usually gave them silent answers. When they told sports is not my cup of tea, I won a prize for badminton in the state competition of a particular association. I valued me as a useful individual after working in the disaster management team of Amrita for flood affected victims and to be always there for contacting the people for rescue.

Today I love myself so I do love this world, I do what I love, I write poems, do studies on ancient Indian myths and on Shaivism. I think I don’t need to inspire people. I strongly believe that every story has its own moral hidden in it, and so every depression has its own reason to cease. I enjoy solitude, I respect my intuitions and memories and I take care of my emotions, that’s all I did. I think that’s a great achievement. Expect life as it is, if we want it according to our wish then it’s only a film. Life is way more beautiful and melancholic, fun and grave, a combination of Odd and Even. Wear a smile in your face and confidence in your eyes!

Author: Vidya Lakshmi Iyer (11th YIC Alum)

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Sustainability Warriors come to Odisha for the 11th Young India Challenge

One of the biggest platforms in India for youth action for sustainability, Young India Challenge (YIC) was organized in the capital of Odisha on 22-23 February. The Winning team will get Rs. 1 Lakh seed funding for implementing sustainable living solutions.

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YIC is a platform created by Human Circle to find solutions to India’s biggest challenges like climate change, responsible consumption and Production and young peoples’ mental health. Human Circle started as a community of people driving #DoWhatYouLove movement and now the community is working with youth that stands for sustainability. Like the recent edition, this year the core theme of the event #DoWhatYouLove was combined with ‘Sustainable Living’ as a part of the larger ‘Youth for Sustainability’ initiative driven by some like-minded organizations.

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Wioleta Burdzy Seth, co-founder of Human Circle and co-creator of Young India Challenge said, “This is the 7th year and 11th edition of Young India Challenge. The event is organized by a group of volunteers called the “Happiness Team”. Today we have invited 120 young people from 42 different cities across India, to find solutions to UN sustainable development goals challenges like responsible consumption & production and climate action”. She added. “Every year thousands of people apply for YIC, because they are inspired to find solutions for India’s and world’s complex challenges.”

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Punyasloka Panda, lead volunteer coordinator, Youth for Sustainability (YfS) clubs said, “I came back to Bhubaneswar from New Delhi leaving my well-paid job to start YfS clubs. My city has seen the effects of climate crisis first hand. Over the years, we have witnessed several cyclones hitting Odisha, we are aware of the problem, and now we need to find solutions together. Up till now, 550 people have been reached out to through events and workshop, 50 youth have joined YfS clubs as active volunteers. Activities of the clubs range from auditing restaurants and canteens for sustainable sourcing, for example:  not using single use plastic, using sustainable palm oil etc., cleaning drives in stadiums, beaches, college campuses; using art, culture and technology, to create awareness about climate crisis.”

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Kamal Seth, India Representative of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) stated “According to a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) study, every second product we buy on a day to day basis has an ingredient of palm which has often been connected with deforestation related issues. Having said that according to a report by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the best alternate to palm is sustainable palm. In India, we have started educating and training, oil palm farmers for sustainable agricultural practices, and getting a premium from the market for their certified crop.”

 

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Organisations like Human Circle, RSPO, The Climate Reality Project, UN Live, Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) and many others have come together to create a new initiative called ‘Youth for Sustainability’ (YfS). As a part of the initiative, six YfS clubs across have been launched across Odisha with plans to expand to other cities soon.

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For more information, write to info@humancircle.in or visit www.youngindiachallenge.com

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Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it

This year’s wedding season has been action-packed with many people opting for Sustainable Practices in their wedding ceremonies. One such ceremony was of our very own Young India Challenge Alumna Swati Khurana. Being a teacher and a Teach For India fellow herself, Swati attended the 8th Young India Challenge at IIT Delhi in 2017. Since then it’s been no looking back for her when it comes to spreading the message of Sustainable Development and Sustainable Living.

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Swati and her team at the 8th Young India Challenge in 2017

Swati embarked on a new journey in her life as she got married in October this year and her wedding was a perfect example of being the trailblazer and leading the charge of sustainable practices. The Mehendi Ceremony was organised in a way that it also educated the guests on how they can adopt practices that do not harm mother earth.

 

They started off with something as simple as going with paperless invitations and sending out E-Invitations to all the guests. The next step was to use biodegradable cutlery for food, steel glasses for serving water and non-plastic chairs for seating.

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At these ceremonies, we usually see that a lot of food goes to waste. But for her Mehendi ceremony, she chose to have a limited menu and all the leftover food was packed and distributed to avoid any food wastage. 

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Swati (center) with her students who prepared posters to spread awareness of climate change, food wastage etc.

All the decorations were re-usable and guests were gifted with planters. Some of her students also prepared posters to spread awareness among the guests about issues like climate change, food wastage etc.

 

Swati said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

She believes in taking small steps to spread a message of sustainability by actions and to show empathy towards mother Earth. 

Apply now for the 11th Young India Challenge, Bhubaneswar, Odisha

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Announcement: Application for the 11th Young India Challenge is Now Open!

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Do you want to follow your passion and make a career around it? Applications are now open for the 11th Young India Challenge (YIC) at Bhubaneswar (Odisha), on 22-23 February 2020.

YIC is created and organised by Human Circle – a social enterprise dedicated to inspire, enable and connect young people to follow their passion and to contribute towards sustainable development goals.

Click here to apply for YIC 2020 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. 

Steve Jobs (Co-founder, Apple Inc) once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Young India Challenge (YIC) is a two-day invite only national level event for 300+ participants from 50+ cities across India, selected from approximately 3000 applications. To help participants solve the challenge we invite 40+ Mentors and Speakers

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Day 1 of YIC has lots of inspiring speaker sessions. There is a workshop to hack your brain to turn your passion into a career. On Day 2, the delegates are given the challenge and they work in a team of ten people to solve the challenge. These are real global and national challenges related to 2 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and Goal 13: Climate Action. The event finishes with an award function and certificate distribution.

Previous Partners/Mentors/Speakers from:KPMG, GE, Boston Consulting Group, NDTV, Startup Weekend Powered by Google, Hindustan Unilever, The Global Shapers Community (born out of the World Economic Forum), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-India), The Climate Reality Project India (Founded by Ex US Vice President Al Gore), Center for Responsible Business, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Techstars, LoveDoctor, SHEROES, Ashoka Youth Venture, Global Action on Poverty, AIESEC, Talerang, BitGiving, Cornitos, SaveLife Foundation, Sarvam Foundation, CoWorkIn, I Impact India, DU Beat, SRCC, IIT Delhi and many more.

Young India Challenge (Bhubaneswar) – 22nd and 23rd February 2020

Click here to apply for YIC 2020 in Bhubaneswar

Watch Videos of Previous YICs in Delhi and Mumbai

Limited spots available!

Prize for the winning teams: winning teams will be awarded with a seed funding of INR 1,00,000 each to execute the solutions for the challenge, along with a 6-month mentorship program.

  • A certificate of excellence will be provided to you as a delegate for Young India Challenge 2020, recognising you amongst the top youth across many cities and universities in India.The #DoWhatYouLove movement has spread across the country and we are looking to organise an amazing conference & a ‘YIC Awards Function’ to make it even bigger.

You could help your friends by letting them know about this opportunity!

Any student, recent graduate, young professional or entrepreneur from any city can apply. YIC is a Human Circle creation for young people to explore and follow their passion with amazing students, entrepreneurs, social change makers, artists, authors and business people. This is the best place to be if you want to create a life by your choice and not what the world tells you.

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Check out the agenda, speakers, partners and all that happened during the first 10 YICs here www.youngindiachallenge.com

  • Check out the videos of what happened at Young India Challenge at IIT Delhi, SRCC here
  • Check out all the YIC updates here

Are you ready to experience two of the most exciting days of your life?! 🙂

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Indian Youth Voice for Sustainability at the Young India Challenge Reunion: “We want a future full of hope not dismay”

23rd November, New Delhi: Fifty young people from across the country from the Young India Challenge community  gathered in New Delhi for a bi-annual reunion to create an action roadmap to tackle the climate emergency. The event was co-organised by RSPO, My Mark My City Initiative, AIESEC and Youth for Earth and after a month long intense discussions and productive critical arguments, youth from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds joined hands to co-create their commitment towards a shared responsibility for deforestation and exploitation free products in India and for making sustainable palm oil the norm.

This gathering was a follow up to the ‘10th Young India Challenge’ organized by Human Circle on 12-13 Oct 2019 at IIT Delhi and a ‘Climate Action Roundtable’ organized for the My Mark My City Initiative by the Museum for United Nations -UN Live’ in association with Human Circle in Mumbai. The event saw the participation of  500 selected youth, mentors, speakers and partners from more than 75 cities. The theme of the event was ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus for the delegates was to find practical solutions for the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12 ans 13, namely, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.

The Indian Youth Delegation stated

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“We represent millions of young people in India. We are now a 1.3 billion people country. More than 50% of our population is below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years. For some this represents a demographic dividend and for others our overpopulation is putting immense pressure on the natural resources like air and water and worsening the climate crisis. We think this is a wake up call for all Indians and that it is time that we consider our ecological footprint not just in India but in other countries as well, which supply essential commodities to us like palm oil, pulp & paper, timber, soy, rubber and many others. We are aware that India is in a way IMPORTING DEFORESTATION through these products. For example, India is the largest consumer of palm oil, 50% of all the products we buy contain palm oil.

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We grew up in an era of extreme change. We have seen our homes once a place of warmth to be surrounded with smog, our air that gives us breath to be coloured in grey haze, our coastline where we have our livelihoods to be receding. In the Himalayan region, we see glaciers melting, temperatures rising above the imaginable and cyclones in Odisha destroying everything in its way. 15 states across India faced devastating floods in 2019.  We have no doubt that we are in the midst of a climate emergency. According to Greta Thunberg, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about your fairy tales of money and eternal economic growth.” Every drought and every flood is now more severe and more devastating. There is a need to ACT NOW!

The shift towards sustainable palm oil is a win-win situation for all. We believe that, not just us the youth, but all of us here today want to live in a future that is recognisable to us, one with abundant clean air to breathe, thriving forests and wildlife. There is no reason to accept anything less. This is the time for you, people of great power and influence within your circles lead this change. And we, the youth of India will be right behind you

Stop asking us to solve all your problems that you created. Solve them now. A better future is possible, and we will not settle for anything less.

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The Indian Youth Delegation will continue their work on #YouthForSustainability in their respective countries.

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“Time To Act Is Now”: Asian Youth Urge Big Businesses To Make Palm Oil Production Sustainable

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Fifty young people from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand gathered in Bangkok for the inaugural Asian Youth for Sustainable Palm Oil Summit co-organised by RSPO, PM Haze, and GIZ Thailand. After nine hours of intense discussions and productive critical arguments, youth from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds joined hands to co-create commitment towards shared responsibility to make ‘sustainable palm oil’ the norm.

The youth delegation hosted their summit prior to the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil conference to highlight the urgency for big businesses to act now. The Asian Youth Delegation stated, “We represent 4 billion people in the region. We grew up in an era of extreme change. We have seen our homes once a place of warmth to be on fire now, our air that gives us breath to be coloured in grey haze and smog, our coastline where we have our livelihoods to be receding. And elsewhere in the world, we see glaciers melting, temperatures rising above the imaginable and typhoons destroying everything in its way. There is a need to act, now.”

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The statement by the Youth Delegation went on to question the effectiveness of our current approaches. “Lifestyle changes can make a difference. But is it really enough? The key to achieving a sustainable future lies in economic transformation. And this economic transformation cannot happen without integrity. We ask of you the businesses, to commit and deliver your environmental promises and to be transparent with your progress. Because it is vital for businesses to change first so that the rest of us can join in the wave of change. This long-term investment will encourage brand loyalty and economic benefit. It will unite consumers and businesses towards a common goal for a sustainable future. There is no time to be ready, we just have to commit and grind through the challenges together,” the statement read.

The Asian youth delegation emphasised that accountability and innovation are key, and as the next generation they will be committing to sustainability themselves but also hold organisations and businesses accountable.

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With our numbers and the economics we represent, which constitute more than 50% of the global GDP, we believe that youth today have great power to offer. Our common values, ideas, and energy will be our drive. To support you, the youth of Asia promises you here today that:

– We will integrate sustainability in and beyond our daily lives.
– We will keep ourselves informed of current affairs and effective solutions.
– We will work collaboratively through public platforms, therefore amplifying our impacts.
– We pledge to keep ourselves, businesses, governments, and NGOs accountable across countries for sustainable production and consumption of palm oil,” the statement read.

The delegation went on to state, “The youth have committed to this. And you have no choice but to work together. The shift towards sustainable palm oil is a win-win situation for all. We believe that not just us the youth, but all of us here today want to live in a future that is recognisable to us, one with abundant clean air to breathe, thriving forests and wildlife. There is no reason to accept anything less. This is the time for you, people of great power and influence within your circles lead this change. And we, the youth, the 4 billion in South Asia and Southeast Asia will be right behind you. A better future is possible.”

“The effort by the youths to engage in critical discussions of sustainable palm oil sector is commendable. Engaging with youths has always been part of our advocacy strategy, as we believe that we can grow an effective grassroots movement to increase adoption of sustainable palm oil to prevent transboundary haze in the region.” Benjamin Tay, Executive Director, People’s Movement to Stop Haze

“The action from Asian Youth is so inspiring! They have done a great job to support sustainable consumption. Consumer awareness on sustainable palm oil in Thailand is still low. We, GIZ as a cooperation development agency, commit  here that we together with Thai youth will leverage this awareness.” Kanokwan Saswattecha, Project Manager of Sustainable and Climate-friendly Palm Oil in Thailand, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

“There is a big opportunity for businesses to meet the sustainability expectations of the youth and build trust and brand loyalty through sustainable palm oil sourcing policies and actions. We encourage all the RSPO members to respond to this call. Together we can inspire a generation of people with hope and optimism and co-create a more inclusive world for all. THERE IS NO PLANET B.” Kamal Prakash Seth, Country Head, RSPO India

The Asian Youth Delegation will continue their work on #YouthForSustainability in their respective countries.