Written by Marian for ISAK Insider (Thailand / Class of 2023).
$100,000 prize in the Global High School category for East Asia and the Pacific
We are thrilled to announce that a group of UWC ISAK Japan students won the 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize! They were competing in the Global High School category for East Asia and the Pacific. Their proposal was to make UWC ISAK Japan’s campus more sustainable through the use of more renewable energy, solar panels and obtaining wood chip fuel from lumberyards.
Trip to the United Arab Emirates
Students Mymy (Thailand / Class of 2022) and Yui (Japan / Class of 2022) received the award in the United Arab Emirates with Ms. Flo. They spent a week in Dubai where they attended Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, participated in workshops, and, of course, visited the ongoing Dubai 2020 Expo.
Meeting international leaders
“Empowering” is how Mymy describes her experience in Dubai. She said the most memorable part was the winner’s workshop. They exchanged ideas about each other’s projects. “[It] made me realize that regardless of where you are in the world, you can take action,” she said.
Diversity for sustainability
The projects presented were very different from each other. Some focused on sustainable innovations whilst others focused on a sustainable lifestyle and mindset. Each project was given both negative and positive feedback by the participants. All had unique outlooks on achieving sustainability, said Mymy.
She described the winner’s workshop as “eye-opening.” Many different approaches to achieving sustainability were presented.“We all shared the same dream: a dream for a better future, and sharing that was a very empowering feeling,” she said.
The next steps
Now in receipt of the prize money, the UWC ISAK Japan Sustainability Initiative club members plan to install energy and water-saving equipment. These include solar panels, a biomass boiler and rainwater tanks. The club also strives to change the school’s mindset about sustainability and make sustainable living essential to life at UWC ISAK Japan. “It is our duty as an informed citizen to make sustainability our lifestyle,” Mymy stressed.
The award gives a boost to those who have pushed for increasing sustainability at the school. It also will hold the school accountable for implementing the changes. The award citation said: “The project will benefit both the local and international community of youth changemakers for the next ten years and impact 520 students
directly within the school in the first five years.”
It added the changes will strengthen environmental suppliers in the Nagano area and, as a model project, could have an effect nationwide elsewhere in Japan.
How to get involved
“Their environmental measures maximize the strength of the local area by using wood chips from lumber yards and cooperating with local non-profit organizations for energy supply, and sustainable food production,” the award citation said. Currently, the Sustainable School Initiative club is looking to recruit new members.
The idea of achieving sustainability could be intimidating to some. However, Mymy would like to assure everyone that “sustainability is simple” and that it could be achieved by anyone. Any action, small or big, will still count towards a sustainable future for everyone.
Stay tuned for more articles about this incredible Sustainable Initiative led by environmental activists on our Leaders Beacon blog.