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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

1st World Youth Sustainability Summit 2013 in Berlin

Young people from all over the world are in Berlin today to take part in the first World Youth Sustainability Summit. The conference is organized by youthinkgreen, an international organization that brings together young folks from 11 different countries, such as Egypt, Brazil, China, India or Germany. They all come from diverse cultural, religious and social backgrounds. The idea behind youthinkgreen is to train the youngsters to become climate ambassadors. They’re meant to use their knowledge to set up and support sustainability projects in the countries they come from.
Youthinkgreen @ Wolfsburg
The Berlin-based organization has some prominent supporters – German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and the president of the European Parliament, Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Over the next ten days, many of the youthinkgreen network’s members will be in Berlin to get in touch with politicians, scientists and residents of the German capital to discuss future challenges.

Youth and Sustainability in Everday Life – Challenge, Rethink and Revive Global Ways of Living

The conference will kick off later today at the Mercator Foundation in Berlin, followed by workshops, speeches and excursions until May 20th.  The participants are to visit Berlin’s rubbish collection and sanitation department BSR and  popular urban gardening site Prinzessinnengarten. At the Brandenburg Gate, youthinkgreen plans to approach residents and tourists while planting the so called “Tree Of Hope,” an idea that Global Ideas followed during the last Climate Summit in Doha, Qatar in December 2012.

The most urgent questions for youthinkgreen are: what kind of a lifestyle do you support for today, tomorrow, the future? In which aspects are politics, economy and civil society responsible for the organisation of a humane life? Doesn’t the wish for a future socially and ecologically secured belong to the catalogue of human rights?

The result of the summit will be a common position paper written by the participants on “Youth and Sustainability in Everyday Life – Challenge, Rethink and Revive Global Ways of Living.”

You can follow youthinkgreen on facebook and twitter. We’ll come back to the World Youth Sustainability Summit with some young voices from the conference, later this week. Participants will write about their experiences, feelings and the results of the conference.


May 10, 2013



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Klaus Esterluß | COP18

How to plant a tree inside a building

Authors: Kerstin Schnatz, Klaus Esterluss

They came to COP18 in Qatar to open the eyes of the negotiators, young students from different parts of the world had an idea about how to really grow roots in the heads of everyone at the climate conference. The organization YOUthinkgreen planned to plant a tree made of garbage inside the conference building. The people at the conference should use their “Tree of Hope” to pin their own demands, wishes or fears on it. But a garbage-tree was not allowed on site. So Luisa from Germany, Pavlos who lives in Doha and all the others from YOUthinkgreen had to find another way to bring their message to the conference. They invented the human tree and the tree grew strong and it’s leaves meaningfull and lush:

Green leaves, green hopes: Young participants plant the “Tree of Demands” at COP18 from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.

One of the leaves was written by Ahmed from Qatar, whose thoughts about cars are still not very common in his home country:

Ahmed from Doha on how to make Qatar a greener country from DW_Global Ideas on Vimeo.


November 30, 2012



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Global Ideas Reporter | Reporter's Log Rio+20

Minister receives green bracelet

Ahmed together with one of his fellow climate ambassadors from Youthinkgreen.

Author: Kerstin Schnatz

Ahmed’s big eyes are beaming with pride. The young Egyptian is standing on the stage of the German Pavillon in Rio de Janeiro. The 16 year old pupil has started a recycling project at Kairo’s German school which he is presenting to an international audience today at the Rio+20 conference.

“Be the change you want to see in the world“
While politicians are negotiating the final document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development just across the street, Ahmed wants to take action: „In Egypt no one separates their rubbish. Plastic, paper, food waste – everything goes into one bin.”

Triggered by the German initiative Youthinkgreen, the couragious teenager and his classmates set up a plastic recycling scheme at their school. The green initiative is supported by chancelor Angela Merkel and has reached over 200 young people in over ten countries so far. Some of them have come to the Rio+20 summit to present their local projects.

Change does not come easily
“A recycling company to pick up the plastic waste was found very easily.“ Ahmed reflects on his own initiative back home. “But after a few weeks, the garbage man told me that he would stop picking up our bin. It was flooding over with a variety of food scraps, paper and aluminium cans.” To get everyone at school to separate their rubbish correctly, a rota was set up. When asked how he made his classmates do the smelly job, Ahmed laughs: „At the beginning no one wanted to bring down the odd rubbish bin. Now you get a bag of sweets, so my friends sometimes even fight over it.”

Peter Altmaier and the Youthinkgreen crowd at the Rio+20 summit.

Handshake with a Minister
After the presentation, Ahmed even gets a chance to meet the German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier. Together with his friends from the Youthinkgreen crew, the young man has managed to sneak into Hall 4 – a restricted area and normally reserved for state and United Nations delegates only. But Ahmed keeps his cool and steps up right next to Altmaier: „We have come to bind a green bracelet to your wrist!“ Ahmed and his friends hope that through this little gesture the politician will be reminded of young people’s longing for a greener future.

Altmaier who just turned 54 two days before, laughs heartily and stresses how important it is that young people take action. The Minister takes his time, listens patiently to everything the youngsters tell him. “Please visit Egypt and help us to put up more solar panels.“ Before the journalists can push in to fire their questions at the Minister, Ahmed has grabbed the opportunity to speak up again. Altmaier says that he wishes all the best for Egypt but that he unfortunately can not be in every country at the same time but will remember this meeting. Then he turns around to talk into the television cameras.

At the Rio+20 congress, teenagers from Youthinkgreen handed over green bracelets and a position paper to politicians and scientists from around the world.


June 22, 2012



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