Written by Ariel Tsai
On November 21, 2020, a group of high school and college students from all over the world took part in the second of our three Youth Future Global Dialogues, the thematic virtual series in collaboration with the UN75 initiative which aims to inspire youth to co-create the future. The three panelists, all prominent figures in the NGO world working in their own ways toward a sustainable future, were asked about their work and how youth can both make their voices heard and contribute to a brighter future. Participants then broke out into groups to discuss their own takes on the discussed theme of “Action Today for Future Generations.”
The panel consisted of d’Arcy Lunn, founder of global citizen educational NGO Teaspoon of Change; Helen Ni, founder of Green Light-Year, an environmental NGO; and Dr. Han Huang, Executive Vice President and former Chief Executive Officer of Tzu Chi USA. The dialogue was moderated by Roger Chou, a Tzu Chi volunteer from California.
d’Arcy’s NGO work is focused primarily on making the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals personal and emphasizing the importance of small actions being taken by individuals to work towards a greater collective goal. Similarly, Helen’s work is centered around making climate change a personal issue and bridging the knowledge gap between government environmental policies and the daily lives of ordinary people. Dr. Huang’s work, as part of Tzu Chi is, simply put, compassion in action: seeking to engage with others to better understand them and alleviate their suffering.
Something that was repeatedly stressed throughout the discussion was the fact that actions taken on a local and personal level can have an impact on a global scale. This is the thought process behind all three of these panelists’ work, but it is explained most succinctly by Teaspoons of Change’s basic concept: small actions multiplied by a lot of people equals big change. Our actions, both positive and negative, really do matter. d’Arcy explained that all of us have to think about the balance between “help” and “harm” in our lives; since every little thing we do has an impact, we should try to make as many good choices as possible.
This particular discussion was focused around what kind of actions can be taken as we work towards a brighter future. The next Youth Future Global Dialogue, taking place on Saturday, December 19, will be about how people around the world can cooperate in a digital context to build the future we want to see. After all three dialogues, participant responses and ideas will be compiled and then submitted to the UN. Youth ages 15-24, regardless of nationality, are encouraged to join and make their voices heard this December.