Louisa Mewenda, 23 years old, from Kenya. Sirasa Kantaratanakul from Thailand, age 35. Joseph Gasser from Lungern, Switzerland, 21 years. As much as these three young adults differ from their cultural background, they are united by their interest in sustainability, environmental protection and technological progress. Along with 33 other talents from 20 different countries they take therefore part in the Youth Encounter for Sustainability (YES) course 2015 in Switzerland. The two-week course started last Sunday in Interlaken. The second half follows in Zurich.
Ludwig Ellenberg is one of the organizers of the Swiss course. It’s the 16th appearance at a YES course for the geography professor from Berlin. "The different disciplines and countries of origin of all participants make extremely exciting debates possible," he says. The workshops led by him deal with issues of land use in Switzerland and the consensual coexistence of tourism and agriculture. The hands-on experiences in Interlaken give an inspiring example, Sirasa from Thailand confirms: "For me, as an environmental scientist, it is essential to know good examples how people decide together on environmental issues."
YES courses go beyond the approach of purely building knowledge. They are interactive and aim to bring together participants from different cultural backgrounds. Through exchange and mutual inspiration, participants will be able to implement concrete solutions in their environment following the course.
The fast growing global network encourages a lively exchange about the individual courses out and promotes sustainable development worldwide. The YES alumni community now consists of more 1,500 people from over 100 countries. Many of the alumni are now in senior positions at private companies as in governmental institutions and NGOs. A large percentage has achieved success with their own sustainable business ideas.
The YES course in Switzerland is made possible by the support of committed partner. In addition to the ETH spin-off Actis, the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, the Mercator Foundation and Zurich tourism are heavily involved in the implementation and support of the YES course.