INTERREGIONAL THEMATIC YOUTH STUDY CAMP ON GLOBAL STRATEGIES FOR ENVIRONMENT SUSTAINABILITY
In August 2011 UPA organized an interregional thematic youth study camp in Bukomero, Uganda. The study camp was concerned with the question of how to develop a sustainable environment and was attended by volunteers from Uganda as well as international volunteers.
The participating volunteers addressed this question and concluded that environment sustainability can be sustained when people stop their misuse of the environment, e.g. cutting trees, polluting the atmosphere, dumping plastics, polyphony and things that do not decompose, misuse of land by farmers, water bodies, forests etc. It was concluded that a sustainable environment can be achieved by the planting of trees, avoiding pollution, avoiding the use of materials that can not decompose, improving methods of farming, and reducing the use of toxic gases.
Other arguments that were raised were that achieving a sustainable environment/development is not just the job of Government and United Nations. Sustainable societies need responsive citizens, people who rise to the challenge, who take action of their free will, and work towards a better and brighter future for everyone around them. Further more, it also needs Non-Governmental Organisations and a strong civil society who organizes and empowers people to do that. It needs people-centred approaches.
A balanced and sustainable environment can be achieved when keeping in mind the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
The volunteers concluded that, for the above to be functional, “we are going to need to get as many people as possible involved in a coordinated way and with a collaborative spirit. We are going to need a lot of volunteers. Because a sustainable environment is everyone’s responsibility.”
Apart from discussing the question of how to develop a sustainable environment, the volunteers also discussed questions of international volunteering in general. Volunteering, they argued, “is the process of working without being paid for what you do.” It is “the giving of time and energy through a third party, which can bring measurable benefits to the volunteer, individual beneficiaries, groups and organizations, communities, environment and society at large. It is a choice undertaken of one’s own free will, and is not motivated primarily for financial gain or for a wage or salary.”
The added value of international volunteering is cultural exchange, the making friends, sharing best practices, it is a learning process, building confidence and gaining experience and the development of skills. International volunteering promotes intercultural learning/exchange. It contributes to community development in both Developed and Developing countries.