UN-Habitat and partner host ‘Dear Students’ event in MilanMilan 21 May 2015—UN-Habitat and the International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization (IESCO), met with students, teacher, NGOs and local municipal leaders from around Milan and participated in a panel discussion on the importance of ecological and environmental safety and awareness.

The event, dubbed ‘Dear Students’ was held in the Civil Society Pavilion at the 2015 World EXPO currently taking place in Milan, Italy. Mr. Jin Guanchun speaking on behalf of IESCO, informed the gathering that IESCO was formed to inform and tackle issues on ecological safety, not just for China, but for the world at large.

He stressed that the pollution of water resources, desertification, species extinction, land subsidence in cities, extreme weathers, large floods, serious mudslides, serious droughts, epidemic diseases and food safety triggered by climate change and unsustainable economic activities poses grave threats to human survival and economic development thus exacerbating poverty, which in turn breeds conflicts.

Youth activism as an effective response to ecological challenges

He further informed that IESCO had formed strategic partnerships with the United Nations and in particular with UN-Habitat to ensure that ecological safety was an issues that was advanced to youth in the urban setting where much of the mitigation is needed. Speaking on behalf of UN-Habitat, Mr Paul Wambua reminded the gathering that a number of environmental risks and hazards disproportionately affect young people, who have to live for an extended period with the deteriorating environment bequeathed to them by earlier generations.

He asked the youth to engage in new forms of action and activism that will generate effective responses to these ecological challenges. “It is through you, the youth that the world could learn and appreciate a new way of doing things and leaving in a more environmentally and sustainable world” he emphasized.

Mr Wambua then went on to introduce the recently launched biennial Youth Innovation Awards Program, which are a joint effort between UN-Habitat and IESCO. The awards aim to promote sustainable cities by recognizing, honouring and promoting young generation of leaders who are in a unique position to leverage the power of invention to establish businesses which would contribute to solving social and environmental problems.

The projects selected will be culturally sensitive and innovative in design and implementation to ensure that they continue to promote positive local cultural practices.