Lesson Learned

Yang Liu, Project Director, Green Student Organizations Society of the Sichuan University at Chengdu.

Funded in part by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Green Student Organizations Society (GreenSOS) strives to provide resources, small grants, and training courses to environmentally focused college-student organizations in western China. The organization focuses on promoting environmental awareness and conservation messages in hopes of inspiring environmental responsibility in the future.

What is the most important lesson you have learned?

Environmentally responsible consumption projects initiated in urban cities can be just as influential as natural resource and habitat conservation projects implemented indirectly in rural habitats.

Describe how you learned this and whether / how you have adapted your approach or specific project elements as a result.

The GreenSOS Monthly Forum project was originally planned to encourage college students to take action in environmental issues. Students would work with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), communities, and local governments to acquire ideas and suggestions from civil society in the design of environmentally responsible consumption projects.

These projects have great impacts on biodiversity and habitat conservation within the Mountains of Southwest China Hotspot and surrounding areas. It became evident, however, that working directly in the biodiversity hotspot and rural areas to implement environmental conservation projects was difficult for many urban students.

The strategy of the Monthly Forum was then quickly changed to organize college students who were becoming more interested in designating their conservation action fields to closer communities within the urban and local areas.

Although the urban life is far from the natural habitat of most protected species, the essential problems of biodiversity reduction and deforestation literally root from the unsustainable lifestyles in the over-developed areas. The varied product demands of urban communities and towns have caused the raw materials from nature to be transported into cities to satisfy consumers.

Through many training lessons offered by the Monthly Forum, college students have gradually realized this close relationship between responsible consumption and nature preservation. As a result they have started taking action, first by changing their own irresponsible consumption.

They are determined to persuade the general public to become more aware of and support sustainable lifestyles and practices.

With this strategy in mind, the Monthly Forum gave small grants to college students in order to practice small but practical environmentally responsible consumption projects in the city communities to protect faraway forests, natural habitats, and wild lives.

- December 2006