Green envoy heading to Copenhagen

by Zhang Fang
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, December 2, 2009
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Walking in a small village of Gansu Province, Xiao Xin saw many stunted and damaged crops left by severe weather condition during this year.

"It hasn't been raining for almost a year in Zhongzhuang, Jingyuan County and the crops were only half as tall as normal, while a hailstorm in July destroyed almost all the corn," she said. "And the main income of this village is from agriculture."

As a post graduate student majoring in Political Philosophy in Nankai University, Xiao Xin has been paying attention to environmental issues for more than six years, however, "it's my first time to see how people's lives can be so badly impacted by climate change. I could barely imagine that even with all the statistics that I had heard," she said. "We have to do something right now."

The 24-year-old girl witnessed the scenes while taking part in "I Do," a campaign launched by Oxfam Hong Kong, a charity seeking to alleviate poverty.

Xiao Xin in Gansu province, September 2009

Xiao Xin in Gansu province, September 2009

She is also chosen by Oxfam as its only envoy from the Chinese mainland to be attendance to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month.

In the resume that Xiao Xin sent to Oxfam HK, she said "we believe our warm heart will cool our warming globe!"

Apparently, her passion appealed to the jury of Oxfam HK. "What we really expect in an envoy is enthusiasm, persistence and the understanding to our topic 'climate change and poverty', and Xiao Xin fitted the requirements well," said Wang Binbin, media officer of Oxfam HK in China Unit.

Facing the twin pressures of completing her graduate paper and job hunting, Xiao Xin said frankly that it was still the best time for her to leave the job in hand.

"The Copenhagen summit is a huge event for me and is not to be missed. Can you image that so many NGOs will gather to raise many key issues at this essential conference?" Xiao Xin can barely hide her excitement. "And I also know my responsibilities over there."

"I will be a campaigner, a speaker and an observer during the conference. I hope to let more people especially the political leaders know how the changing weather patterns have increased poverty in China".

Xiao Xin has closely focused on environmental issues since she entered university in 2003. An eco-socialism project she did during her course opened a window and attracted her attention to this brand new area.

University is always a good start for students to turn thoughts into action. She began undertaking volunteer jobs during her second year in Nankai University and has since joined in many on and off-campus activities constantly.

"Volunteer work is like daily life for me," Xiao Xin said. "My friends are always surprised that I know about so many events and campaigns, but to people like me who are really interested in being volunteers, access to such information is easy."

In July 2008, Xiao Xin did a two-month summer internship in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta a sponsored by Greenpeace South Asia and a local Indonesia NGO Pelangi.

"It was the first time that I experienced the impact of climate change. I saw for myself how the rainforest was damaged in Indonesia and that was so different from watching such scenes on TV or reading damage statistics in the media".

"But what most impressed me was in Gansu Province, where I saw the poverty and the people who suffering from the changing weather so closely."

In May 2009, Xiao Xin heard Oxfam's about the “I Do” project when participating in a conference of the International Association of Students in Economics and Management (AIESEC) in Dalian, Liaoning Province.

"I sent my resume right away and got the result after I came back from an education project in Sichuan Province this August."

Altogether, 11 envoys selected by Oxfam HK went to Gansu in the middle of September.

Gansu is one of the most seriously drought-affected provinces in China, and climate change is making it more difficult for the people to achieve food security, Xiao Xin said.

"If you haven't seen the consequences of climate change in this country, you wouldn’t understand the topic (Climate Change and Poverty)," she added.

At the same time, Xiao Xin said that despite the heavy damage from natural disasters in this place, the people still endured with optimism and hope. "They don't give up, and then I thought about at that moment is that we have to do something right now."

According to a report released by Oxfam this July, climate change is making extreme weather events like floods more frequent and intense. It's playing havoc with traditional farming seasons, causing crops to fail and animals to die.

Oxfam HK has been helping one of four villages that Xiao Xin visited for the past three years. "I can see that their lives are much better than other three. They have a deep well in the village and cisterns for each villager, and that helps a lot." she said.

"These are some of the things I will talk about in Copenhagen." Oxfam will hold a few seminars in Copenhagen during the conference, and Xiao Xin will give a few speeches there. "I will speak on behalf of the poor people in China to the political leaders, because they must help to stop the disasters."

Now Xiao Xin is getting everything ready to her big event, "I am not saying my voice or the NGOs' work will change their minds and reach a good result, but who knows, we are going to try our best."

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