The event saw 40 students, aged between 16 and 18, from 10 countries and territories around the world gather to take part in the programme, which aims to give young people a better understanding of environmental issues and the importance of conservation through an eight-day trip to Yingjing County in Sichuan Province, China.
The group began their educational experience with a visit to the Hong Kong Geopark, an environmental project administered by the Hong Kong SAR Government, before departing for Sichuan where they will spend time learning how conservation efforts are bringing tangible and sustainable social benefits at different levels. All the students selected to take part in Green Explorer have demonstrated a keen interest or involvement in environmental activities.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar said: “It’s heart-warming to see how passionate and articulate these students are with regards to environmental issues. The Cathay Pacific Green Explorer programme will certainly give them a wider perspective on how they can be more responsible towards the environment and help spread the message about the importance of conservation when they get back home.”
The Cathay Pacific Green Explorer 2011 programme was launched in May 2011 as part of Cathay Pacific’s ongoing commitment to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. A total of 16 students were selected from Hong Kong with the remaining 24 students coming from Australia, Canada, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Taiwan, US and Vietnam. The programme Patron is Mr Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for the Environment in the Hong Kong SAR Government.
Highlights of the eight-day programme include a visit to a giant panda breeding facility to understand more about conservation efforts, classroom sessions on forest carbon, a field visit to rare and ancient forests near Yunfeng Temple, and interactions with local communities to learn about their livelihood projects. Students will also hike at Daxiangliang National Reserve and learn how to monitor wildlife and identify fauna and flora in the Niba Mountain area.
Karis Cheung, one of the Hong Kong participants in Green Explorer, said: “I am extremely grateful and excited to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Sichuan and experience the local culture and environmental conservation work there.” Fellow participant Denise Chan added: “I’m looking forward to meeting new people from all over the world and learning more about where they’re from and their cultures.”