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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Day #2

This is  Mr Alex Steffen.

Day 2 of the conference kicked off with a keynote speaker on city-planning and its environmental impacts with Alex Steffen's speech titled 'Everything Needs Fixing'.

He introduced several model cities and their sustainability approaches, such as Seoul and Amsterdam. He also introduced PASSIVE House, a kind of house designed to use much less energy, but delivers the same amount of comfort.

And most importantly, he was funny. Muy divertido. No aburrido. Here's a video of him on TED talks.

I signed up for Sustainability Core Sessions after that, and sat in for Cole Nakatani's session. I found his session utmost interesting, as he did not only talked about our roles and responsibility in sustainability, he used visuals. All of them were unique and were designed by himself - it was an accurate representation of what he was trying to put in words. On a personal note, I found this method extremely effective. An idea or concept might be too complex to be explained in mere language.

Let's face it. Not everyone is keen about the concept of sustainability, because sometimes it meant an extra effort to save a future which they might not even live to witness. Some people are just lazy. Some generally do not care, and brushed off the issue thinking that there are abundant amounts of people involved with this, sufficient to make a change. They do not think that they are important, and they have no knowledge of the power they have in their hands.

What they do not realize is that every person counts. The community is also not aware of the size of the threat posed against humanity - that is why I thought Nakatani's approach is fresh and interesting. He represented these threats through art, which I found, had a hint of irony and metaphorical in nature. They held a deeper meaning than what the surface offered - I could feel the amount of effort placed within each piece of work.

An illustration about 'carbon footprint'.

After lunch, we had a session with Victoria Wakefield, one of another UBC's keynote speakers who spoke upon institutional sustainability.

Victoria Wakefield and institutional sustainability.

"Sustainability is the capacity to endure, how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time."

A few admirable efforts in which UBC has to offer:
- Recycling electronic wastes (I never thought electronics could be recycled !)
- Anti-packaging programme
- Container-exchanging programme (especially efficient for students with packed schedules !)
- Loop Cafe - A cafe in the CIRS  Building where most of the food consumed here are produced directly from the UBC Farm
- UBC itself as a whole - the first fair trade-certified campus in Canada
- Soft-plastic recycling programme
- Tap water declaration
- Interactive UBC water outlets - a newly established mobile app that tells you where the nearest water outlet is available !


We had our second GAT group session later on and we made better progress this day. At least, we have decided on what to do for our final presentation. We spent the entire session writing out scripts for our sketch.

I would say that the evening is the time most people looked forward to - sports ! We were given some time to change out of our clothes into sportswear, and we got to choose to spend our evening between trekking, football, basketball, Ultimate Frisbee or just chill out with our friends under the shade.

After dinner, it was time to prepare for World's Culture Performances - we have to come out with a presentation of any form to demonstrate all the nationalities within our GAT groups. It was quite a challenge for Koerner as we have nine different nationalities. Twenty people from nine different countries of China, France, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, the United States, Egypt and Canada herself.

Sushi, Hide and Reina, from Japan, went the extra mile and prepared three months before the conference to bring us such a beautiful, amazing dance performance. Sushi took out a huge Japanese flag after the performance and invited everyone to leave their signatures on it. The flag would be sent to the victims of the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and the triple disasters to show support and encouragement from everyone around the world in this conference. His proposal almost brought tears to our eyes and it was one of the most touching presentations I've ever seen.

I spent the rest of my evening after that with some of my GAT group members in Starbucks writing our presentation script and we nearly could not find our way back to Totem Park.

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