Youth volunteers are picking up plastic litters in waterways.
In 1999, the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF) and associated agencies jointly launched the “Mother River Protection Operation.” Since then, this environmental protection initiative has attracted almost 700 million young participants nationwide, covered 347,000 hectares of land and won prizes including the UNEP Champions of the Earth Award.
In order to motivate more young Chinese to participate in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, the ACYF initiated the “Beautiful China: Youth Action” in 2019, with Mother River Protection Operation, 3R1C Campaign (Haze Reduction, Emissions Reduction, Plastic Reduction and Energy Conservation), Waste Classification as its priority areas. Backed by local governments, social enterprises and grassroots organizations, youngsters have engaged in a range of projects to protect the environment and help tackle climate change.
Youth volunteers are testing and cleaning the river.
2.Fields of solution:
Education and propaganda; Youth; Sustainable cities and communities
In 2020, almost 31 million young people participated in events as part of the “Beautiful China: Youth Action,” with 850,000 youngsters joining the “Mother River Protection Operation.” The “3R1C Campaign” consists of dozens of projects and mobilized 28 million young people, with related articles receiving almost 4 billion views online. To list a few, over 1.6 million students from 1,017 university nationwide joined the “Clear Plate” action to fight food waste, attracting more than 1.1 billion views online; 42,962 young volunteers from 29 provinces removed 155 tons of waste from 780 waterways in a series of riverbank clean-up events. Over 2 million youngsters joined a campaign to educate citizens on “Waste Classification”.
In 2020, a range of social projects were carried out as part of the “Mother River Protection Operation.” Over 3.8 million dollars was crowdfunded from businesses and individuals, 236 youth forest projects were created, and 2,400 hectares of land was reforested. In the “3R1C Campaign”, the ACYF worked with industries and enterprises closely related to the lives of young people – such as bike-sharing and food delivery – to launch campaigns against pollution, waste and littering. Meanwhile, as part of the “Waste Classification” drive, 12,000 educational events were held in schools and communities by young volunteers. Pilot projects on reducing waste and boosting recycling were also designed and implemented.
Chinese Youth are conducting Trees Planting Project.
5.Experiences and Stories
There are two biggest problems inherent to youth-led environmental protection projects in China—namely lack of influence and lack of continuity. To solve the former problem, a national plan of action and star projects were made under the “Beautiful China: Youth Action”. In doing so, ACYF was able to unite the power of youth, enhance the cohesiveness of local projects, and expand the brand influences. To solve the latter problem, ACYF turned to social crowdfunding to raise money for project operation, organized various appealing activities such as SDG campaigns and practical activities to ensure the endogenous power of the youth, and paid special attention to encourage Chinese youngsters to contribute to the global climate actions and 2030 Agenda realization to nurture their sense of mission. So far, the “Beautiful China: Youth Action” initiative has already become a well-known project with millions of Chinese youths actively participating in—we are glad to see this exciting achievement, and we look forward to sharing this experience to other countries.