The Green Long March is China’s largest movement of student-led environmental action. Launched by Future Generations China and Beijing Forestry University in 2007, the Green Long March (GLM) is a youth network that aims to build a more sustainable future for China. To date, Green Long March volunteers across China have taken on critical regional issues such as water quality, green agricultural practices and plastic “white” pollution.
Future Generations is a graduate school and worldwide alliance of organisations dedicated to applied community development. Established in 1992, Future Generations strengthens within communities the capacity to shape their own futures. Communities learn to maximise locally available skills and resources and to develop solutions that ﬁt local cultures, economies, and ecologies. In partnership with governments, Future Generations builds on proven local successes and community leadership to support regional and national-level impact. Areas of focus include maternal and child healthcare, nature conservation, peace building, income generation, and governance. Future Generations works in Afghanistan, China, Peru and India.
Future Generations has a twenty-year history of success in China. Projects initially focused on community-based conservation and development in Tibet and grew to incorporate environmental awareness across China through the Green Long March. Future Generations China is registered in Hong Kong with permission to operate in mainland China. The organisation is led by 15-year Hong Kong resident, Frances Fremont-Smith who resides in Beijing, with professional support from long term Hong Kong resident Caroline Hsiao Van. The president of Future Generations, Daniel Taylor has been invited to give talks at the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, Future Generations China, in partnership with Beijing Forestry University and with the cooperation of local universities, created the Green Long March (GLM). The GLM is China’s largest youth-led conservation awareness movement. Over the past two years, the Green Long March (GLM) has become a platform for student environmental groups from 50 Chinese universities to have a voice, be heard, and affect change at the community level. In 2008, approximately 5,000 student volunteers participated in Green Long March programs.
Working in partnership with government, universities, communities, media, students and corporations, the GLM is an enduring vehicle for environmental change in China. Along routes that pass through every province of China, student volunteers conduct environmental campaigns and learn from grassroots conservation successes. The innovative approach of the GLM to environmental education has earned it recognition as the “Green Legacy” of the Beijing Olympics by the Olympic Review, the official publication of the International Organising Committee.
Since 2007, the GLM has achieved the following:
- Organised a nationwide university network, which has expanded from 2,000 students in 2007 to 5,000 students in 2008 participating in GLM programs.
- Gained Support from the Chinese government and key environmental leaders through approval by the Communist Youth League, the State Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
- Executed nationwide special events including Earth Day, World Environment Day and events in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games.
- Raised environmental awareness across China by inspiring broad youth participation and by close collaboration with regional, national and international media.
- Led community-based environmental action by providing environmental education training to youth leaders and by conducting case studies of best practices in sustainability. Starting in 2009, the GLM Green Seed Award will provide youth with small grants to support community-based green initiatives.
- In 2009, the Green Long March will feature educational campaigns that promote creative energy solutions in homes, schools, businesses across China. Best practices in sustainability will be recorded in case studies and disseminated at national training conferences. Additionally, “Green Seed” small grants will be awarded to outstanding youth-led community projects that take action on energy issues and climate change.
In 2008, Green Long March activities began on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. In Hong Kong, students from Lingnan University, an official Green Long March affiliated partner, organised on-campus events to raise awareness about product lifecycles and environmental degradation. The success of this event was expanded with coverage from many local media outlets including the South China Morning Post. In 2009, students from Lingnan University and Hong Kong University hope to join an extended leg of the Green Long March bringing Hong Kong and mainland students together to campaign for further environmental awareness in Hong Kong, mainland China and worldwide.
The Future Generations office has been a training ground for many up-and-coming Hong Kong youth. Staff members from Hong Kong have used their experiences and knowledge gained working with the Green Long March to support their pursuit of graduate studies and further environmental activities. Additionally, the Green Long March receives generous support from many Hong Kong-based organisations and individuals, including Goldman Sachs, Swire Properties, Adrian H.C. Fu, ZeShan Foundation and Li & Fung. It is only with the backing of such dedicated groups that the Green Long March exists in its current form, engages so many of dedicated youth, and is able to bridge the multiple cultural realities that make China diverse, forging them into a unified environmental force.
Green Long March, Sichuan Earthquake Recovery
Future Generations China and Beijing Forestry University are committed to supporting youth development, environmental education, and sustainable rebuilding for earthquake-affected communities in Sichuan province.
Since the devastating earthquake of May 12, 2008 in Sichuan, a group of 30 local Green Long March student volunteers from the Chengdu-based environmental network GreenSOS have been working with earthquake-affected rural communities. Immediately following the earthquake, GLM volunteers from GreenSOS and Beijing Forestry University taught environmental education classes in tent schools and temporary youth centers and gathered crucial data for NGO initiatives through an asset survey and community meetings. Volunteers also participated in key rebuilding projects, including the construction of two community “EcoSan” ecological toilets in Mianzhu County.
In the fall of 2008, GLM volunteers gathered substantial donations of books, school supplies and winter clothing from local businesses and aid organisations. Donated items included 1,000 sets of thermal underwear for primary school students in the town of Qingxi. Student teams also launched a “Green Bookshelves” pilot program, which brought over 23,000 donated books on environmental topics to schools and community centers in remote villages. In the future, volunteers hope to create an integrated “Green Bookshelves” education program that teaches rural children about climate change and provides crucial child-centered learning resources.
In order to build public awareness around the long-term issues faced by earthquake-affected communities, Green Long March student volunteers have been documenting the earthquake recovery process with video podcasts. Podcast topics include: green rebuilding, community plans for the future, winter weather conditions and the elderly, and events such as the first local wedding following the earthquake. On December 21, 2008, GLM student teams presented project results and short films on their work. The event was reported on Sichuan TV 4.
The GLM Sichuan Project is currently supporting approximately 3,000 villagers and has already impacted an estimated 1 million people. With Bayer’s support, in 2009 the GLM will continue its environmental education program, with a focus on pilot economic recovery projects to help create sustainable livelihoods in the counties of Mianzhu and Qingchuan. Since September 2008, GLM volunteers have helped to support a revival of Penghua Village embroidery products by coordinating their bulk purchase and sale by the China Green Consumer Association.