As the saying goes, “A single spark can start a prairie fire”. A revolution often begins with a single initiative. In the field of Environmental Human Rights, this challenge may be a daunting one. But with young and enthusiastic minds applying themselves, the future of the planet could be better assured.

ASEF eNewsletter speaks to two participants from the Asia-Europe Training Course on “Environmental Human Rights: A Present and Future Challenge for Youth Work”. They are Natalie Sajda, a youth worker from the Center for International Youth Exchange (Sweden) and Ratchada Arpornsilp, a Regional Humanitarian Program Officer with Oxfam GB (Thailand). They share their thoughts here:

What is the most important lesson you have learned about Environmental Human Rights during the training course in Korea? And how did you benefit from taking part in this programme?

Natalie SajdaNatalie Sajda
Center for International Youth Exchange

“I’ve learned that environmental human rights is a borderless issue, which continues to escalate in both Asia and Europe. Through listening to other participants, we were able to put pieces together. The overall picture of the status of Environmental Human Rights in both regions became clearer. A mutual understanding of the threats to this issue, helped us to move closer to cooperate towards solutions. 

I’ve surely gained a lot of new insights and perspectives of the issues discussed, as well as on other development topics. I am very grateful for the intercultural environment that we had, which was definitely one of the strengths throughout the course; to learn, be inspired, understand and also bring back knowledge to the local milieu where we are engaged. I also appreciated the different backgrounds of my fellow participants, which is an indication of the interdisciplinary approach of the training course towards environmental human rights issues.”


 Ratchada Arpornsilp
Oxfam GB

”During this Environmental Human Rights Training in Korea, I learned that conflicts among different human rights are actually flawed, though such cases often exist.  It doesn’t mean that we have to give up our right to development or culture in order to enjoy the right to a good environment.  Rights are transformative but fundamental, individualistic as well as collective.  Each right has limitations and can be contradictory. To achieve its enjoyment is about compromising, personal and social learning and development.

The essential elements for realising environmental human rights are about raising awareness, developing conscious individuals, and having practical behavioural change in lifestyles.  These are not all. But these are the parts in which youth work can contribute to support, sustain and promote environmental human rights. By internalizing and cultivating this through both formal and non-formal education activities among young people, we can achieve the desired change.

Dealing with global challenges such as environmental problems in this century requires cooperation at the global/international level.  Therefore, sharing of knowledge and learning between Asia and Europe is very important. During the programme, I was very much inspired by various initiatives of my co-participants, whether small or big.  I can feel these will somewhat make a constructive difference to the world.  I received lots of positive energy from these passionate individuals so that I came back more inspired for the work I am committed to.”