Putting theoretical discourse into real action, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Green School in Sibang Kaja, Bali, on Aug. 28, to learn about and witness firsthand sustainable education from a group of future leaders.
Accompanied by several significant figures in the political movement for climate change, including Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morten Hoglund; Ambassador of Norway to Indonesia Stig Traavik; founder of the Green School Bali, John A. Hardy; and head of school John Stewart.
Ban and the delegation were warmly welcomed by 412 students of Green School, from pre-kindergarten to high-school level.
Equally excited to salute the secretary general on stage was Green School’s own deputy secretary general of the campus’ Model United Nations Club, Clover Horan.
The 10th grader leads the Green School’s own version of the UN, which aims to expand students’ knowledge on international issues and policy making.
Together with Ban, the delegation took the stage to give their remarks on the importance of young leaders to create a more sustainable future ahead.
In his opening speech, the UN secretary general shared his amazement over Green School’s commitment in molding the younger generation into future green leader of the world.
“This is the most unique and impressive school I have ever visited. Thank you very much for your strong commitment and vision to [making] this world green,” Ban said.
Recognizing the alarming threat climate change poses on the development and betterment of the world’s poorest communities, Ban noted that around today’s world leaders have had “though choices to make,” especially in the months leading up to the Sept. 1-4 Climate Summit and its post-2015 Development Agenda.
He encouraged his young audience to take an active part in the world’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change by developing into global citizens.
“Tomorrow you are going to be [our] leaders. And today, we need to be together working very hard to make the world of tomorrow much better for all its people,” Ban appealed to the crowd of enthusiastic students.
He especially congratulated “Bye Bye Plastic Bag,” an initiative led by Green School students Isabel and Melati Wijsen, which aims to collect one million signatures to ban the use of plastic bags in Bali. Ban said he hopes children all over the world could have the drive and passion to start a similar campaign.
During his visit, the secretary general also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Green School Bali, the National Redd+ Agency and the United Nations Office for Redd+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNorcid).
The joint endeavor, called “Green Schools for Sustainable Development,” details a collaborative framework between the three parties involved for the implementation of sustainable development in Indonesia’s schools and other educational institutions.
The MOU will serve as a guide for facilitation and development of green schools across Indonesia.
The three signatories are committed to recruiting one million Green Youth Ambassadors in schools across the archipelago by 2017.
“The Green School is an outstanding proof of concept. The next step is to achieve proof of scale. Supporting [the development] of green schools and strengthening environmentally sensitive educational curricula are two of the ten imperative actions of the National Redd+ Agency in 2014,” said Heru Prasetyo, head of the Indonesian National Redd+ Agency (BP Redd+).
The international delegation’s visit continued with a tour around Green School, showcasing several of the institution’s efforts to promote sustainable living and green education.
The event came to an end with the secretary general and his wife releasing two Bali starlings, which were bred by the Begawan Foundation — located within the school’s premises — to limit the risk of the species’s extinction.
As the magnificent white birds soared into the blue Bali sky, so did the hopes of those in attendance that day, for a greener and better future.
UN Secretary General Ban was in Bali on Aug. 28-29 for the Alliance of Civilizations’ Sixth Global Forum, which this year carried the theme of “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values.”