Empowering youth at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

Mrs Dawn Ige, First Lady of the State of Hawaiʻi, discusses the Hawaiʻi Youth Challenge 2020 – a ‘Design Thinking’ activity to engage youth at the IUCN Congress. 


Mrs Dawn Ige, First Lady of the State of Hawaiʻi Photo: Dave Au Eyelens In Focus Photography

“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” — Robert Kennedy

It is undeniable that the youth of today will be tasked with solving the world’s pressing issues – including climate change, food security and species extinction. If we expect our children to tackle these global threats we need to provide them with the necessary tools to support them in their efforts.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawaiʻi will be the first of its kind to actively engage younger generations. The IUCN Congress National Host Committee K-12 Working Group has developed meaningful opportunities for youth to participate in the Congress. This 16-member working group is made up of community members dedicated to empowering youth and includes organisations like Kupu, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Harold K Castle Foundation.

The Congress’ inaugural Students’ Day, Tuesday 6 September, will feature the Hawaiʻi Youth Challenge 2020 – an interactive, interschool, Design Thinking activity where students will design environmentally conscious systems for Hawaiʻi schools and communities. The K-12 Working Group is encouraging all Hawaiʻi middle schools and high schools to attend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from international conservation professionals and leaders about the challenges facing Hawaiʻi and the world.

We have enlisted the help of Ian Kitajima, senior executive of Oceanit and expert in Design Thinking, to facilitate the Hawaiʻi Youth Challenge 2020. Students will learn how to use the Design Thinking process – a human-centered problem-solving method – as a tool to address conservation issues and develop solutions to work towards a more sustainable future.

During the Hawaiʻi Youth Challenge 2020, students will attend a series of discussions and presentations at the IUCN Congress Thematic Pavilions. The pavilions will create an engaging space where students and international experts from the conservation community can collaborate and learn from each other.

As an educator, I hope that by participating in this international experience, Hawaiʻi students, together with their teachers, will be inspired to become agents of change in their local communities to help preserve the beauty of our environment for generations to come.

– Mrs Dawn Ige, First Lady of the State of Hawaiʻi

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