From 13th-24th July, I and Ben Walta from CERES Global led the Environment and Sustainability in China Study Tour to Shanghai and Beijing. This study tour was the first in an ongoing collaborative venture between the La Trobe University Department of Politics and Philosophy, CERES Global, and La Trobe Asia. Funding for this project was provided through DFAT’s New Colombo Plan.
Motivation for putting this tour together came from the recognition that China is facing some monumental environmental problems. These environmental threats are now impacting at a time when significant social and economic forces are reshaping Chinese society. Indeed the governance of China is one of the greatest social engineering projects ever undertaken. Less well known in Australia is that China, because of the size of its environmental challenges, is a world leader in addressing environmental degradation through innovative political, economic and technological strategies.
With that in mind we structured the tour to help our tour participants learn more about these innovations from host organisations in the private, NGO and academic sectors, working in the environment and sustainability sphere at international, domestic and local levels.
Enjoy my photo montage from the trip, celebrating the achievements of our group in Shanghai and Beijing…
Thank you to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Colombo Plan for the grant funding which made this venture possible. Their objective of raising the Asia-literacy of Australian students is a goal that thoroughly resonates with us here at LTU.
An enormous thank you goes to Ben Walta, Josephine Newman and CERES Global for your huge role is making this tour happen. CERES Global is a gem of a social enterprise and I am delighted that we are collaborating on this and other projects.
Thanks to Nick Bisley and Diana Heatherich from La Trobe Asia for your support, not only in organising this event but also for publishing the program within and outside the LTU community.
Thanks to Kim Siemensma and Wendy Martinec from La Trobe Abroad, and Mady Kelsall from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce admin for your hard work in navigating us through the bureaucratic jungle to get this tour up and running.
Thank you to our host organisations in China for welcoming us and sharing in your work in the environment and sustainability space:
- Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE).
- Sprout Lifestyle, Shanghai.
- Green Initiatives, Shanghai, and its director Nitin Dani.
- Hangzhou Permaculture Educational and Research Center.
- Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, Beijing.
- Beijing Food Sovereignty Alliance and GMO research Chen I-Wan.
Special thanks to our Chinese language experts Angela Fennell and Jing Ma. You were outstanding in your role as interpreters, intermediaries and ad-hoc organisers.
Thank you to the elder statesmen of our group, Ed Walta and Allan Newman, for your great conversation, sagely wisdom and subtle leadership. You both were much-loved members of the tour party.
Thank you to our external tour participants Virginia Mosk, Alex Hurcombe and Jess Bollenhagen, for your wonderful work as the social glue of our group. The extraordinary cohesion of our tour party would not have been possible without you.
Finally, my heartfelt appreciation goes out to the students: Adrian Calderaro, Maxine Catchlove, Micaela Cosgrove, Tia Davison, Lily Falconer, Mirella Fernandez, Miranda Hornung, Paul Niklaus, Rebekah O’Keefe and Tom Ung. Each and every one of you was a wonderful travel companion, thoughtful intellectual sparring partner, and caring cultivator of our group dynamic. You are stars and I look forward to collaborating with you into the future on environment and sustainability-related projects.
There was much love, good will, intelligence, courage and resilience in this group. Thank you, personally, to everyone mentioned above for making this one of the most moving and special professional experiences that I have been involved in.