School kids from Pangandaran, Indonesia, have urged global tourism leaders to take climate change seriously. The 451 participants of the Mangrove Ambassadors Program voiced out through a selection of 24 “Letters to Leaders” how climate change is affecting their daily lives at one of the most popular tourism destinations in Indonesia. The Ambassadors Program is part of a joint project by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, supported by the government of Germany, to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
School children are the main protagonists of the Mangrove Ambassadors Program, one of the central elements of the project “Sustainable Tourism through Energy Efficiency with Adaptation and Mitigation Measures in Pangandaran” (STREAM). Their handwritten letters explaining how they are impacted by climate change were delivered by the Indonesian Vice Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sapta Nirwandar, to UNWTO during the presentation of the STREAM project at ITB Berlin. The initiative aims to stress the importance of engaging local communities in the implementation of any sustainable tourism project.
“We hope that our global leaders can do something against climate change,” said Tiara Citra Dewi, a 14-year-old student, in her letter.
“Our children are asking us to take strong action against climate change. We thank UNWTO for listening to the voices of the next generation of Indonesia, and we look forward to continue this collaboration and engage in new initiatives,” said Sapta Nirwandar.
UNWTO underscored the grassroots approach of the project. “STREAM is a practical example of how the tourism sector can engage local communities to be part of a sustainable solution in adapting to climate change”, said UNWTO Executive Director for Competitiveness, External Relations and Partnerships, Márcio Favilla during the event.
The Mangrove Ambassadors Program involves school children in planting and monitoring mangroves as an innovative way to promote a local and long-term sustainable solution to climate change adaptation. Through the program, Indonesia’s future generations become not only an active part of the fight against climate change in their communities but also the voice of this movement among the older generations.
Other initiatives of the STREAM project include seminars and workshops to increase the knowledge of local tourism stakeholders on climate change response, capacity building on energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and energy management systems for hoteliers, as well the rehabilitation of mangroves and coral reefs by locals and tourists as a means to naturally capture and store carbon emissions.
The STREAM project, with an investment of US$ 1.7 million, aims to significantly increase the climate change resilience of Pangandaran and the competiveness of its tourism sector, thereby serving as a model to be adopted and replicated in other destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.