YRE/UNESCO 2018 Lisboa ESD Mission

Hey there, it’s Connie!

I am so excited to share that as a YRE Alumni, I was invited to a 3-Day workshop in Lisboa, Portugal organized by UNESCO, FEE, ABAE & YRE; where I completed my training in ESD Leadership! This event took place from March 15-19. The last time I was in Portugal was in Cascais, 2014 from my last YRE Litter Less Mission. You can check out my sustainable journey and experience here: 

This past mission changed my life and encouraged me to continue to advocate sustainability. It inspired me to reflect on my own actions and relationship with the environment, because the 18 year old me had no clue what she was going to do with the world.

Fastforward to four years later…

In January I submitted my photography and environmental projects that I created during my school studies that deal with Food Waste and Climate Change. Reuniting me with YRE and Environmental Defence, once again!

With this opportunity, I was able witness 42 other representatives from around the world come together to share their innovative ideas and voice their opinions on sustainability. Meeting youths from Slovakia, Scotland, Israel, Latvia, Bermuda, Ghana, Canada, Singapore, Portugal, Romania, Greece, France, Mongolia, Turkey, Macedonia, Malta, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, Sweden, Slovenia, China, and USA. There was so much diversity from this bunch; bonding through our passions, dedication and group field work, we inspired each other to do our best.

I am so honoured to be welcomed to an open environment to have this important conversation on sustainability. Not only was it so great to meet up with old friends from my last mission in Cascais. But I also left with unforgettable memories and new friendships as well! 

Check out the work we did, the memories we made and friendships we created within this 3 part photo blog!

Day 0-1: Arrivals, Reunions and Introductions

D A Y  0 0 

It begins with my journey from Canada, to a layover in London and finally Lisboa, Portugal! I arrived around 4:50 PM and got to meet familiar and new faces at the airport. We got picked up by Pedro from ABAE and headed to INATEL, the hotel at Costa de Caparica, our home for the next three days! The forecast throughout was quite odd, it rained on and off with sunshine in between. But 16°C was technically summer compared to the weather I left in Canada. I went to the airport with a winter jacket, so this was a definitely blessing. 

As participants began to arrive from around the world, we had dinner and a surprise in store for us. Thank you Joana and her Tuna from her school! It was very entertaining and lovely to hear this wonderful traditional Portuguese music, once again.

Before the workshop, all participants attended a ZOOM Conference call. We got to introduce each other, expressed our past experience with YRE and Journalism. Now it was time to meet each other in person, how exciting! The night ended with a fun ice-breaker, music and foods we brought from around the world. Yum! Canada shared a lot of Maple Syrup, Coffee Crisp and Maltesers. 

D A Y   0 1

Our workshop began with introduction presentations by organizers from, ABAE (Jose Archer), FEE (Daniel Schaffer), UNESCO (Julie Saito). The wonderful facilitators Mona, Christopher, Pedro, Emmanuael and Daniel; spoke about their experience and personal story with ESD. 

Presentations was followed by a nice group gathering outside in the sun. We all brought a personal item that represents our sustainable journey and shared our story in the circle. By the end of the workshop we would trade our item with someone else!

After lunch, we gather in our groups for the first time as our first task is to reflect and find a common narrative within sustainability that links all of our items we brought. Matej; small figurine of a pitcher, Maddalen; a filtered water bottle, KyAsia; bottle caps washed onto the beaches of Bermuda, Marion; wine corks, Begum; screw caps, and I brought stickers of ugly fruits & vegetables. We found that waste links Group 7 together. 

Pedro Marcellino came by our table to help guide us in the right direction. Matej brought a pitcher that represented his grandmother’s tradition of carrying water within a jug. This action made us compare the past with the present behaviours. When it came to foods, they didn’t judge a plant by it’s appearance. Instead our ancestors used what was available to them because of how it tastes. Where as today the food industry is based on beauty standard ideals and cosmetics, creating tonnes of food waste. Marion’s wine corks represented how wine is a high export in France. It tied into how our ancestors didn’t use pesticides in their products. Where as industrial production uses pesticides to create faster production, thus producing more waste and pollution. We find plastic pollution in our waters, KyAsia and Begum’s screw caps and bottle caps are a common item that end up on our beaches and oceans. 

Where the hardwork happens

Our first tasks as Group 7, the Dream Team!

Writing notes, before presenting

Group 7 discussing our narrative with Pedro Marcellino

Matej holds our drawing narrative, where it all comes full circle

Discussing our items within our groups, and how it relates to the bigger system

Group 4, Martins presenting

Group 6, Vinh sharing

17 Sustainable Development Goals

A blast from the first YRE Mission back in Cascais, Portugal.

We concluded that every action that we make creates waste in some kind of form, with the main influence of materialism and capitalism. Maddalen’s water bottle with a filter, ties into the actions that we should be taking. A step in how we can start reducing our pollution. This goes into full circle, back to Matej’s grandmother and how the pitcher represents an original idea of a water filter system. We were able to question the system by asking, “How is it that in our reality we have created so much waste, but our ancestors was able to create less without any knowledge about sustainability? “ 

We continue the day with presentations. Learning about the 17 SDG’s, leadership, interview strategies, empathy and role-played scenarios to overcome certain obstacles. 

Day 01 ends off with a dinner at Club Capitula Restaurant over looking over the docks.  We celebrated Anastasia birthday, had delicious food & drinks and of course a dance party!

Day 2: Field Work, Parque das Nações + The Oceanário

D A Y  0 2 

My day begins early for field-work, as our bus to Lisboa leaves at 8:30 AM. Group 6 goes to Colégio Valsassina: Eco-School. My group visits Parque das Nações, investigating wise-waste and energy urban management. We then meet around noon to visit the Oceanarium together!

O C E A N A R I U M !

Group 6 and 7 are then picked up, and head to Oceanário de Lisboa. The largest indoor aquarium in Europe!

Julie Saito, walking past the marvellous water fountain

Group 7 and our awesome facilitator Mona Zoghbi!

Begum and KyAsia smiling, taking selfies

KyAsia and I having fun

Portugal, most famous for their mosaic cobblestones has marine creatures and animals at the Ocenarium

We begin the tour in Philippine waters, at the Indian Ocean.

KyAsia teleported back to warm waters!

Even though it was raining all day, we still managed to find a sunny beach

Group 6 + 7 listening to all the wonderful information given by our tour guide

We got back from our field work at around 1:40 PM. After lunch all of the groups went to the presentation room to start working on our reports. But first, we have inspirational talks within journalistic aspects from Pedro Marecellino, how we can humanize our video narrative and choose an angle that will resonate with the audience. Christopher Slaney talks about how we can create a catchy article title.

It was so inspiring to see everyone work hard and collaborate. We put all our research together and split the work between writing, photo and video. Marion, KyAsia and Maddalen write the article. While Matej, Begum and I focus on video and photography. Although it is a long day of work, our group is still laughing and smiling throughout the experience which is very important!

What we found challenging with our topic was that there was already video reportage done by previous YRE on the technical aspect of this urban waste management and it’s facilities. So we took another approach by focusing on the results of this efficient waste management system. Matej created an awesome script/storyline. We draw a storyboard, record a voice over with the main message “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” This direction involves an ambitious approach of animating with Adobe After Effects within a couple of hours, but our group prevails and succeeds!

The night ends off with the screening of TV documentary “The Kamaishi Miracle”, featuring the turmoil left behind from the devastating tsunami in Japan, 2011. 

Groups finished their reports, which are uploaded to YRE Exposure and prepare for the press conference the next day.

Day 3: Press Conference + YRE Family Dinner

You can check out all of the groups articles and video stories we covered here!

Group 7 reports here: article and video

D A Y 0 3

After breakfast, everyone heads to the presentation room for Press Conference! 

I also wanted to thank Kristina Madsen for being patient with our video, and uploading it the morning of presentations. :D

Each group presents a brief overview of their field work they were assigned. Showing a powerpoint, photo story or video. There was also time for questions from both facilitators and participants. 

The press conference welcomed an open discussion to everyone! What I found interesting within our critiques was using systems thinking and being critical about our narratives that we told. Everyone learned from each other, supported each other and inspired each other! 

With an eventful Press Conference, we gather again to discuss how we plan to continue our involvement as YRE Alumni. We also discussed the possibility of organizing the next UNESCO mission within four topics: Food, Animals, Marine & Coast, and ESD Journalism. I chose Food because I am personally invested and interested in Food Waste as an environmental and global issue. In the Food group we broke down the main issues that come from food which is Food Waste and World Hunger. Wanting to investigate within local groceries, farming industries, and food banks.

We reflect on how we can take action individually and how to help each other in our Sustainable Goals/Projects through networking. 

Right now a there is a YRE Group on ‘SLACK’ workspace, formed by Vinh Le. All YRE Alumni are welcomed to join this network, to communicate, share ideas and collaborate globally. The invitation link can be found through YRE Facebook Groups. 

We receive our certificate in completing or ESD Leadership Training and take a nice YRE Family Portrait!

T H E  G O O D B Y E

After the Press Conference, we head to Lisboa for some short sightseeing. We were split into 3 groups and were given a map of Lisboa. The activity had us visit certain historical landmarks around the city. I was sorted into Group C! 

So many sardines!

Inside the Silver Bracelet Factory, I loved the artwork here

After three hours we regrouped at Praça do Comércio. Ending the night off with dinner at Fábrica Braço de Prata (Silver Bracelet Factory). It was a private goodbye party just for us! We saw a variety of art collections, listened to Fado, ate delicious foods and danced the night away! Some tears were involved by the end of the night. 

I’d like to credit Kai Yoh, KyAsia Scott-Fishenden, Kristin Rodrigo, Begum Ucar, Kristina Madsen and ABAE for the extra photos I couldn’t capture. Thank you for capturing this amazing experience!

B O N U S : An Extra Day in Lisboa

A couple of us stayed an extra day in Lisbon before heading back home, this was our fun day! We met up with Pedro and explored the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology). We ate pastel de nata from Pastéis de Belém and Manteigaria. Ending off the night with a delicious dinner, Fado music playing and of course the view of Lisboa during twilight.

And so another YRE mission ends… 

This was an incredible opportunity that felt like a dream. I am so glad I was given this chance to voice my opinion and share my sustainable story with 42 other representatives. I’ve learned so much from these 3 days and it’s definitely reignited a passion I have for the environment. I’ll continue to lead and critically question my actions, while considering all 17 SDG’s. 

Thank you again to the facilitators, YRE Directors; Gosia Luszczek, coordinators; Margarida Gomes and Kristina Madsen. To all the participants and everyone who made this event happen; I know I’ll see you again. Thank you UNESCOFEEABAE & YRE!

Until next time.. Once YRE, Forever YRE

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