YRE Winner Joshua Richardson attends UNESCO forum in Portugal

Rotorua student, Joshua Richardson says he felt “excited and proud” to be selected to represent New Zealand at a recent UNESCO forum.

Held in Portugal from 15-19 March, the forum brought together 43 young people from 24 countries all over the world.  Joshua (18), the sole representative from Oceania, worked with other young environmentalists over four days where they honed their environmental journalism skills and were trained to be Environmental Youth Ambassadors in their respective countries.

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) leadership capacity building course / Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Mission was organised in cooperation between UNESCO and Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).  The aim of the course is to empower participants to be inspired by ESD related issues and to be engaged in raising awareness among people to take action towards building more sustainable, just, and resilient communities.

One of the most enjoyable memories for Joshua was meeting other likeminded people from many different cultures.  “Everyone was so friendly and we were able to learn and share experiences from our own countries”.

Attending the forum has increased Joshua’s passion for protecting New Zealand’s environment.  “I want to get more involved in educating others on environmental issues.  I feel that this experience has given me more power to make environmental change and I am keen to work with others to bring about that change”

Joshua, a former John Paul College student has grown up on a dairy farm south of Rotorua and believes his rural upbringing contributed to his strong interest in the environment.  “I believe that protecting our waterways is the most pressing environmental issue.  We need to look at the water quality of our streams, the drinkability of our water and the role that all of us play, including big corporations”

In 2016 Joshua along with two other John Paul College students won the New Zealand YRE competition for their short film about the restoration and protection of the Utuhina Stream, which runs near the college.  Joshua also has an interest in film making and he has combined both passions to work on a number of environmental journalism projects.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB) run the YRE Programme in New Zealand.  YRE is an environmental journalism programme for schools aimed at students 11-18 years.  KNZB nominated Joshua for the fully funded UNESCO scholarship to attend the forum.  KNZB Education Manager, Christine White is pleased that scholarship opportunities are being offered within the YRE network and was thrilled when Joshua was selected.  “Joshua will make a fantastic YRE New Zealand Ambassador and after receiving the training he is already exploring ideas on how he can mobilise others to take action towards greater environmental awareness and change”.

Joshua has plans to start an environmental group at The University of Waikato where he currently studies Geography and Earth Science.  “I would also like to do some work with secondary students, starting with my old school, John Paul College”

For more information about the Young Reporters for the Environment Programme contact education@knzb.org.nz