To promote biodiversity protection and sustainable palm oil consumption in China, RSPO and WildBound are working together to launch a youth-oriented initiative called the ‘Changemakers for Nature’. As China prepares to host the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in 2021, this is a pivotal moment for the country to demonstrate leadership and action on the importance of biodiversity protection globally. 

WildBound, a Beijing-based sustainability and education venture, will implement the programme along with other partners from schools, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and sustainably-minded businesses. Through an online curriculum and community activities, the programme aims to provide youth with the knowledge and tools to address the intrinsic value of biodiversity protection globally, within their communities. 

“Young people in China are positioned to become the changemakers for sustainable consumption and biodiversity protection. By engaging youth with practical tools, expert networks, and experiential learning, they can start to create an impact within their communities,” said Songqiao Yao, founder of WildBound. 

“We are excited to collaborate with RSPO and other stakeholders on the ‘Changemakers for Nature’ programme. Having worked with young people through WildBound’s previous projects on climate change and sustainability, our team is confident that young people in China will become leaders for a sustainable future, and we want to amplify their impact,” Songqiao added.

According to a study done by Alibaba, youth and middle-aged people between the ages of 15 and 54 make up 60% of the Chinese population with the younger generation, 18 to 35 years-old, contributing the most significant portion to consumption in China. The Emarketer, based on its studies, stated that there are an estimated 819.9 million users of social media in China, including the popular WeChat, Weibo and TikTok platforms. Considering this, China’s youth, through the active utilisation of China’s social media platforms, holds potential for promoting behaviour and mindset change across society for more sustainable development, as changemakers and future leaders of the world.  

Indeed, biodiversity loss and climate change are considered to be the biggest challenges faced by humankind. New reports released by the United Nations show science-based data in regards to the degradation of ecosystems, particularly forests, and the loss of biodiversity, which could potentially be irreversible. 

According to an analysis of the major primary sectors, agriculture is responsible for 60% of the world’s deforestation and 70% of the loss of terrestrial biodiversity. Tropical forests, mainly in South and Central America and Southeast Asia, have been under threat, largely due to increasing cattle ranching and agricultural expansion, including palm oil, which is why sustainable cultivation is crucial now more than ever.

We know full well that palm oil production is affecting at least 193 threatened species globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. In the last few decades, the increased demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre, and fuel has changed and degraded ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable previous decade. This demonstrates the unquestionable link between forests and biodiversity to food production.

With ongoing efforts to raise awareness and catalyse action amongst policy-makers and the agri-business sector for transitioning to sustainable businesses, reducing deforestation and prioritising ecological protection, it is often difficult to get top-down policies and enact sufficient awareness to a greater audience of consumers and across society. Therefore, there is a need to drive impact not only in business and government, but also across society to promote the intrinsic value of biodiversity protection and sustainable palm oil production.

WildBound has already started working with a few schools, where thousands of students are excited about the upcoming ‘Changemakers for Nature’ project, and various events, such as fundraisers for the Amazon rainforests, simulations on palm oil production’s impact on tropical rainforests, and other initiatives on biodiversity production.

The ‘Changemaker for Nature’ will officially launch on 19 August at the 2020 China Sustainable Palm Oil Forum/The Fourth RSPO China Forum in Suzhou. For more information on the programme and to register, please visit the website.

1 FAO, 2019, Valuing Forest Ecosystem Service

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