Let's make a difference

Let's make a difference Featured Image

First of all, I am just so grateful to have been selected as one of the 57 delegates to attend the annual Sir Peter Blake Youth EnviroLeaders' Forum and I can’t thank enough the people who made this experience possible for me; the Sir Peter Blake Trust, sponsors, speakers, delegates etc. Attending the Forum has definitely changed my life completely in many ways, shapes and forms and I will never forget my experience. I got to:

· Meet like-minded people from New Zealand and the Pacific who have a passion for the environment. My family just got 80 more whanau!
· Broaden my knowledge and perspective on pest eradication, ocean health and biodiversity
· Enhance my leadership skills which I can then take back to my school and community and implement them
· Have fun!

After attending the Forum, there was two key ideas that stood out to me the most. First of all the fact that we as consumers are supporting farmers nationwide who are polluting our soil, rivers and oceans. Not many individuals realise that EVERY single time we purchase inorganic products, we are supporting farmers to pollute our country (by buying their products). This can be anything, whether lettuce, meat or milk, it doesn’t matter. The harmful chemicals used kill the natural nutrients in the soil when applied in high concentration frequently due to monoculture and not crop rotations, not allowing the soil enough time to recover. As a flow on effect, this then leaches into our waterways and flows into our precious ocean, decreasing water quality overall. So from now on, each time you go to buy a product that is inorganic, just take a moment to remember that YOU are helping farmers to decrease soil and water quality in New Zealand. Remind your friends, siblings, parents, remind everyone. Do you want the future generations to blame you? No! So let’s make a difference while we can. Most people say that organic products are ‘too expensive’ to buy, however this is due to the certification costs that organic farmers face, meaning they have to increase their product price as the cost of production is high because of this. I personally think that the Government should subsidise these certification costs as it would make a healthier country for both the people and the land if inorganic and organic product prices were the same, giving consumers a healthy choice. Bhutan is currently leading the way with being the first organic country and I think New Zealand should follow suit. The water and soil quality of New Zealand will keep decreasing unless we go organic. The more intensive farming that goes on, the more ruined the soil and water quality, and the harder it will be to turn it back to how it should be. We want to be able to swim in our rivers right? Don’t you think it would feel much better to support a farmer producing products in a sustainable way that looks after our natural environment? It is up to us as young EnviroLeaders to make a change, make a difference so that the future generations can enjoy the same beautiful Aotearoa as we are.

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Secondly, the Forum made me realise that leadership is not always about being the leader of a group of people, sometimes it is about letting others have a chance to lead as well. I now know that this is a significantly important aspect of leadership qualities because everyone has their own unique ideas or way of leading. If we are all the same type of leader, we start to think the same which has negative effects on innovation and abstract thinking. So it is very important to have a diverse range of leaders who have different perspectives in order to create ‘bullet-proof’ solutions to environmental problems New Zealand is facing at the moment and in the long term.

Lastly, I can’t thank the Sir Peter Blake Trust enough for the amazing opportunity and experience that left me inspired to follow in the footsteps of Sir Peter Blake’s legacy, so once again, thank you soooooo much Hannah, Jacob, Shelley and Emma for everything you did to change my life.