JICA Young Leadership Development Programme 2008

14-31 Jan 2008

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Young Leadership Development Programme. 

Date: 14th January – 31st January 2008

Place: Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan

Water Watch Penang member, Dr. Hong Chern Wern, was selected for this very competitive programme. As a young leader committed to environmental conservation, particularly water conservation, Hong has helped WWP tremendously over the years in terms of educating school children, generate public awareness, manning WWP booth during exhibitions, and other tasks involving WWP. He was suitably rewarded when WWP President Prof Chan Ngai Weng selected him as WWP represantative to this programme. However, the selection was not easy as Hong had to write an essay and fill in a lengthy form detailing his vision, commitment and actions in environmental conservation, as well as how he will apply the knowledge he had learn in Japan when he comes back to Malaysia.

Report on the trip:

The program of this 17 days trip to Nishinomiya was plan and conducted by the Learning and Ecological Foundation for Children (LEAF). The programmes of this trip are about Town Planning through Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Lectures were conducted on topics related relevant legal framework policies and measures, and different parties’ roles in areas of environmental education and ESD in Japan. In addition to that, lectures were conducted about policy making through community participation in the areas of “environmental education”, “capacity building of the next generation” and “environmental-friendly industries”. Field trips were carried out to several places such as environmental education related facilities for the community and children as well. Visits were also carried out to several local industries and environmental protection area. Trips to natural conservation area such as sea areas, mountains, river sides and cultural spots as part of the programme. These areas are conserved with the participation of the local community.

Throughout the duration of the programme, I have learnt a lot of techniques and methods in creating action plan in developing environmental education for the community. Involvement of the community itself in developing environmental education is not an easy task to achieve as constant awareness raising campaign are needed to educate everyone in all aspects of life. Community participation as well as partnership with certain industries such as recycling company, garbage collection company are formed to ensure efficient solid waste management. Education for sustainable development is also initiated in several elementary schools in Nishinomiya as part of the education system. Young school children are taught on how to take care and appreciate the environment at very young age. Earth Watching has also been set up by LEAF for the school children as part of the ESD programme. The community of Nishinomiya has also set-up several NPOs solely for nature conservation purposes such as the beaches, forests, and rivers. LEAF itself is a NPO in Nishinomiya and since as every other NPO, funding is one of the main obstacles in continuing their daily environmental activities. To address to this problem, LEAF gathered funds through its setting private business.

Some techniques and methods in environmental conservation can be applied in the activities of WWP such as incorporating river and water education into the curriculum of the school education system. Through the networking with several NPOs namely LEAF and some international organization such as the United Nations University and The Environmental Ministry of Japan made during the duration of the trip; future partnership could be form with WWP in organizing any water saving and conservation related campaign. If possible in the future, private business could be carried out by WWP to provide itself some independent funding.

Last but not least my advice to future potential candidates from WWP who’s going to attend similar training and development programmes by JICA in Japan, have an open mindset and a positive learning attitude and you will enjoy the learning process. You’re going to experience a whole new culture and mindset especially in environmental conservation among the Japanese community. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to WWP and its President, Prof. Dr. Chan Ngai Weng for providing me this golden opportunity  and memorable trip to Japan.

Report by Dr. Hong Chern Wern