On Thursday 8th April the Lord Mayor of Canterbury welcomed to the Tower House scholarship winner, Julian Osorio Sandoval from Colombia, and his main sponsor, Concorde International School of English. Julian was one of more than 450 participants who took part in the Climate Change Project organised by the British Council in Colombia in conjunction with RCN television, the Colombian and Dutch Red Cross, WWF Colombia and ‘Fundacion Natura’. Through this initiative young people were invited to reflect on the implications and consequences of climate change by sending audios, photographs or videos to help raise awareness on this environmental problem. Julian’s video entitled ‘We are one’ shows how we all contribute to climate change even if we are not aware of it. It also conveys the idea of how fragile the environment is and the need to start caring about it. The video can be found at YouTube.
Concorde International School of English in Canterbury was chosen as one of the main sponsors in the UK to make it possible for Julian to live and study in the UK and learn about the environmental problems faced by the Kent coastal area. During the meeting at the Tower House, the Lord Mayor, together with council officers Matthew McLellan and Ted Edwards, discussed with Julian the main issues related to climate change in the local area such as rising sea levels and “coastal squeeze” (coastal margins being squeezed between the fixed landward boundary and the rising sea level). The use of tropical wood from Latin America to build coastal defenses was of particular interest. Ted Edwards explained the need to use this kind of wood due to its unique durability and emphasised the fact that the wood comes from certified sustainable sources. Ted Edwards also explained how importing this wood provides local people in Latin America with a source of income and how this, in turn, protects the forest from non-managed use.
The meeting also focused on Fairtrade and Matthew McLellan explained its implications for communities in third world countries. The fact that Kent has been declared a Fairtrade district was also of particular interest and the support from the Lord Mayor and local businesses and volunteers was acknowledged. Other topics mentioned were the impact of climate change on wildlife, young people’s involvement in environmental challenges and cooperation with international organisations. Kent pioneers a number of environmental projects and the strategies being used locally may well help to combat environmental problems faced by other countries in Latin America and the rest of the world.