During the months of January and February 2016, more than 240 young people from 12 countries sailed to Japan, India, and Sri Lanka on board the Nippon Maru; the Ship for World Youth Leaders (SWYL) convened by the Government of Japan, aims to foster social and environmental projects and contribute to the creation of a culture of cooperation among countries.
During the program the Ship for World Youth Leadership (SWYL) Sofia Camacho participated as a representative of the Earth Charter and as a spokeswoman for the post 2015 Agenda. One of the 11 Mexican delegates, she was selected from among 1,300 candidates by the Embassy of Japan in Mexico, the Mexican Institute of Youth (IMJUVE) and the SWYL Alumni Association in Mexico. During the seminar she led, she integrated the Mexican culture and success stories of conservation in Mexico thanks to strategic alliances with Earth Charter International, Center of Information of the United Nations Mexico (CINU), the National Ministry for Knowledge and Use Biodiversity (CONABIO), Vice Mexico, as well as organizations among which are Reforestamos Mexico and the Huerto Roma Verde.
Below, please find Sofia´s first-hand account of her experience on the Ship…
Personal letter to the ocean and earth
Environmental testimony of the Ship for Worlds Youth Leaders
For over a month I gave myself to ocean life. Aboard a ship full of magical encounters and voices, I saw flying fish, dolphins, fishing birds and pirate ships. I filled my lungs with calm and felt in my stomach the sudden swing of the storm. The continuous breeze settled the question in my mind: everything depends on the ocean. After all, it occupies most of the planet and every living creature depends on water.
The Ship for World Youth Leadership (SWYL) program of the Government of Japan, is a celebration of the central role that the ocean plays in our biological, social and economic life. More than 80% of the volume of world trade -and with it, the social interaction and cultural exchange- is by sea. It makes sense that such a unique initiative in the world, comes from an island nation: a society which has intermittently opened and closed to the world, opening and closing its shores to people and products. SWYL is a program designed and executed with Japanese precision for young people from 12 countries, leaders of social and environmental movements worldwide. “The Ship” as we now call it, is a life-changing experience that the 240 participants will cherish for life.
Echoing the Earth Charter
Just a few hours after we landed in Tokyo we met Wakako Hironaka, member of the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), Director of the Environment Agency of Japan, and Earth Charter Commissioner. Our curiosity was mutual: she looked at us with eyes full of history and hope; we were fascinated about everything that her country had to offer. “Inspire them” was the message she gave us, when she learned that we would offer a seminar to present the Earth Charter as a global movement and an instrument that could guide our projects towards a more sustainable and peaceful world.
In the format of a Participant Youth Seminar, I led the presentation of the Earth Charter and its relevance in each of our countries. We echoed the training we received in our preparation process in Monterrey, Mexico; just as Amorita Westphal had invited us to feel the earth with our bare feet, we invited the 40 participants to be aware of the movement of the ocean. We shared with one another experiences of turtle conservation in Sri Lanka, whale watching in Australia, as well as building kayaks out of PET bottles in New Zealand. We realized all the forms of collaboration we have with our projects and initiatives.
The world ocean
In general, we all came home with the conviction that it is our generation that must act immediately. Personally, I understood that the conviction must be transformed into action without border constraints –just like the ocean. The environmental problems we face today require articulated actions and individuals connected in all nations. It is important that biodiversity and cultural diversity remain, and that they are recognized to provide solutions and alternatives of life for all.